On TV, comedian Paul Scheer has gone head-to-head with a serial killer dolphin on Adult Swim’s “NTSF:SD:SUV,” traversed the perils of fantasy football on FX’s “The League” and wielded the awesome power of a t-shirt cannon on MTV’s “Human Giant.” Now, the comedian-actor applies his unique skill set — and sense of humor — to comic book with the launch of a new miniseries from BOOM! Studioss.
In February, Scheer and his writing partner Nick Giovannetti, along with artist Manuel Bracchi, unleash “Aliens Vs. Parker,” a four-issue miniseries following a group of slacker gamers who work for a space delivery company called Space-Ex. The crew is forced to put their beloved video games on hold when they deliver a classified package to a mysterious planet. Scheer and Giovannetti spoke with CBR News about turning their comedic ode to all things sci-fi into a comic book.
CBR News: What can you tell us about your new miniseries, “Aliens Vs. Parker?” Who is Parker, and why will he — presumably — be a battling alien?
Nick Giovannetti: Parker is a smart, funny guy that hasn’t quite gotten his life together yet. He is in a dead-end job and doesn’t particularly like where he’s at in life, but is too comfortable and scared to do anything about it. He has to fight the aliens after he and his friends crash land on a mysterious planet.
Paul Scheer: Yeah!
It sounds like the premise allows for a lot of humor. Will this be a straight-up parody, like “NTSF: SD:SUV::?”
Scheer: It’s less of a parody and more of an homage in the vein of “Shaun of the Dead.” I love the idea of real people that are grounded in our world being put in the insane fantastical situations that you see in films and TV. I’d love to do a ‘day in the life’ comic in the Marvel World of just regular people living in New York City when that huge battle during the end of “The Avengers” happens. There is so much to mine there.
What are some of your sci-fi influences and some of the touchstones for this story? Sounds like the employees of Space-Ex would trade jobs with the “Alien” space truckers in a heartbeat…
Giovannetti: Ha! Well I think most of the crew of the Space-Ex ship has more in common with the space jockey of “Prometheus.” I’m pretty sure they’ve fapped their DNA on several different planets. As for influences, it’s a broad spectrum. There are little references and homages to tons of different sci-fi books, movies and video games. “Ender’s Game,” “Gears of War,” “Sunshine,” “Star Trek” and obviously “Aliens” are some of the bigger ones.
Scheer: Also the landmark sci-fi film “Super Mario Brothers” with John Legiuzamo and Bob Hoskins. Much respect to the masters.Â
How long have you been working on this story and what inspired it?
Giovannetti: Off and on for a while now. We have pretty busy schedules, so we’ve been working on it whenever we have downtime.
Scheer: We live cross-country from each other, so it’s tough. I think we were inspired to write this because these are the types of movies we grew up on. Big sci-fi comedies, like “Ghostbusters.”
Giovannetti:Â Paul and I love sci-fi and wanted to play around in that world. This is our love letter to “Aliens,” much like “Shaun of the Dead” is for the Romero zombies movies.
Was it always the plan for this story to be a comic book? And how did “Aliens Vs. Parker” land at BOOM! Studios?
Scheer: The idea of writing a movie is so daunting because even if it’s written and has the best script ever, you are reliant on only a handful of stars that can actually get a film green-lit. The big reaction to our script was always, that’s too expensive you can’t do that. So we figured, let’s write the story we want, the way we want, and let everything else figure itself out; and comics is essentially the only medium where you can do that.Â
Giovannetti: As we kept working on it, Paul came up with the idea of doing it as a comic. We both love comics, so it seemed like a really fun way to approach this story. It’s been a dream come true, and BOOM! has been incredible in helping make that dream a reality.
Your characters are really into a fictional video game called “Warfighter.” Are you both big gamers?
Giovannetti: Paul and I both play video games. I’m the bigger gamer of the two. I was obsessed with “Rainbow Six: Vegas” a few years ago — I spent months playing it online. To this day, it’s still my favorite FPS.Â “Warfighter” is kind of our take on a future version of an R6, “Call of Duty” type game.
Scheer: My desire to play games and actually having to time to do it definitely isn’t equal. Since my Xbox is in the living room, my wife has a pretty stern rule about not playing when she’s home. Come to think of it, I should have the same rule with any of the “Real Housewives” shows. But my favorite games right now are “Call of Duty,” “Assassin’s Creed” and I just got into the new Batman games, which I love.Â
What do you like about working in comics that you can’t do in television?
Scheer: Having an unlimited budget! Â I come from a basic cable background. Between FX, Adult Swim and MTV, you get amazing creative freedom, but you have to temper that with a very limited budget which stretches your creativity. Working with BOOM! you get the best of both worlds. If we want 100 marines and a giant spaceship, no one bats an eye. It really allows you to go big with every idea. Even writing the limited edition “NTSF:SD:SUV::” book for Comic-Con this year, I was able to do everything I’ve ever wanted to do with those characters and it was awesome. Basically, it’s like being James Cameron or Michael Bay every day.Â
Giovannetti: Which is where Paul and I differ, because I’ve been living my life like I’m Michael Bay for the last 15 years.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in adapting your humor into comic books, especially compared to television and improv?
Giovannetti: It’s much harder to be funny in comics. You just don’t have a lot of room to play with. I think we’re getting better and better at it as we go.
Scheer: Yeah, it’s tricky trying to get jokes to play exactly as we imagine itÂ because so much about comedy writing in TV and film is timing and the way an actor delivers those lines. You have your hands tied in those departments when you are writing a comic. This is all new to me, and my respect for my favorite comic book writers has grown exponentially through this process.Â
How’s your collaboration with your artist Manuel Bracchi working out?
Giovannetti: It’s great! Manuel is super talented and it feels like Christmas every time we get a new page. I think people are going to really dig his work on this book. We are so lucky to have him.
Scheer: I’d go as far as to say he’s my favorite Manuel.Â
What comic books are you currently reading?
Giovannetti: I tend to follow writers rather than specific books. So usually Bendis, Johns, Waid, Millar and Morrison. I love, love, love anything by Ed Brubaker. I know Paul does too.
Scheer: I’m a big Brubaker fan, too. Lately I’ve been reading Matt Fraction’s “Hawkeye,” which is great, and Mark Waid’s “Daredevil.” I loved the new Batman “Court of Owls ” story, and that got me into “American Vampire.” Also, I’m so bummed Gail Simone was booted off “Batgirl.” She’s the best.
Paul, you were involved in a minor controversy at this year’s Comic-Con after Bill Willingham claimed he was pushed by your bodyguard. It was a misunderstanding that resolved itself — and you don’t have to talk about the incident if you don’t want to — but since you can speak to both sides, the comics-side of things — as a fan, and now writer — and the television side of things, what are your thoughts on non-comics media’s place in the convention?
Scheer: Â Oh man, the Willingham thing was absolutely crazy because I’m such a huge fan. I love “Fables.”Â When I saw him angrily tweet at me, I was so confused. I don’t have a bodyguard and every year I walk the floor by myself. For me, it’s the best part of the convention. So I was certain he had me confused for some D-bag actor. But it turned out he was right; he was pushed by a security guard that was ‘protecting me.’ Â See here’s what happened: I was supposed to do an interview on G4’s “Attack of the Show,” which is on the convention floor. However, the green room for the show is across the hall. Convention security is hired to essentially barricade actors as they walk across the floor to the interview, and since the show is live, everything is planned down to the second, so they can’t have anyone stopping during the walk.
I didn’t even see it happening. I essentially just jogged across the floor with Rob Corddry, and I guess while that was happening the overzealous security guards decided to act like dicks and push people out of the way. Which is the worst and so embarrassing — it’s not like we were going be mobbed like Nathan Fillion is. Anyway, Ed Brubaker, who I’m friends with, was a great peacemaker and let Bill know that I’m not a diva with a bodyguard and that I’m a good guy. We settled it up and Bill even invited me to a Fables party later that weekend. I was relieved to be taken off Willingham’s sh*t list.
As far as TV and the place it has in conventions, I think it does have a place when it’s properly programmed. I hate seeing panels for TV shows and movies that just don’t belong but some studio tries to use the convention to capture the “fanboy” crowd. I also hate seeing stuff like Hallmark having a booth on the convention floor. That doesn’t belong there. Ultimately, we are all there because we are fans of cool stuff: if it’s comics, art, toys, film or TV, we all share a similar sensibility. So, for me, it’s one stop shopping. I think that while comics might be pushed to the side, it also brings more people to these events. It’s a double-edged sword. You might lose the intimacy, but you get to meet more people. Also, I feel like the San Diego Con is just its own unique convention.Â Nothing compares. It’s the summer blockbuster of the convention world, so it’s bound to piss people off. My real complaint is not being able to get into the panels. I’d love more live feeds so I can at least see half the stuff I want. I don’t need be in the same room — I just want to see it. Â Â
Paul Scheer and Nick Giovannetti’s “Aliens VS Parker” debuts 2013 from BOOM! Studios.