|“Alien Pig Farm” #1|
How would you like to have your name associated with blood-sucking fiends? What about creepy aliens or vicious monsters? This is the situation comic creator Steve Niles often has to face…and he loves it!
Niles has a vampire movie currently in production (“30 Days of Night”), several other horror films in pre-production, and a number of comics that bear his name arriving in shops over the next few months. Of particular note is “Alien Pig Farm 3000,” available in stores this Wednesday. The book – written by Todd Farmer with art by Don Marquez – is published by Image Comics and is coming to fans via RAW Studios, of which Niles is a member along with actor Thomas Jane (“Stander,” “The Punisher”) and artist Tim Bradstreet (“The Punisher”).
The studio has their niche established – horror and science fiction – and has several promising books on the horizon. Just look at the aforementioned “Alien Pig Farm 3000”: its story is about a race of pig-eating, flesh-gnarling aliens attacking Kentucky – that alone should make anyone with the slightest interest in sci-fi want to pick up an issue. In addition, the studio has recently announced that their “Bad Planet” miniseries (written by Niles and Jane) will be back in stores on a regular basis soon.
As they have so much going on, CBR News felt it was time to catch up with the minds of RAW Studios. Over the next few days, we will be posting interviews with Niles, Jane, and the team behind “Alien Pig Farm 3000.” Niles, however, drew the short straw and gets to be the first of the group in the hot-seat. Still, it’s better than facing flesh-eating aliens…we hope!
First off, it appears you’ve got a lot of cooks in the kitchen on “Alien Pig Farm 3000” – you, Thomas Jane and Todd Farmer are all credited on the story. What’s your specific role on this project?
I would say bottom feeder! [laughs] This is sort of what we always intended Raw Studios to be. When we met with Todd, he had a seed of an idea. He came to us with a pitch, and then I started scripting it at one point. And then Todd, who had only written screenplays before, was kind of scared of writing comics – scared like a little girl [chuckles] – so I sort of helped him out. After he got the hang of it, he jumped on the script and we all passed around story ideas.
Tom’s role is…he was probably the one holding guns to famous artists heads to get covers out of them. I still can’t believe who he’s managed to get. We’ve got Mark Schultz and William Stout doing covers, following Tom getting Dave Stevens, Mike Kaluta and Bernie Wrightson for “Bad Planet.” Really, I’d have to say this crowd you see on the credits is more of a film-like approach to comics. We’re just trying to make decent comics and it’s not about me being the writer or whatever, but in this case it’s Todd Farmer’s story and Tom and I have helped pound it into the shape.
To use a film analogy, it sounds like the two of you serve as producers on the comic, while Todd plays the role of director.
It has been reported that it was your idea to bring in artist Don Marquez. What drew you to his work and how did you guys get introduced?
I know Don Marquez from buying his artwork off of eBay starting about six years ago. I own a Frankenstein and a Fly painting and got them back when you could still get them affordably – I lost two Marquez eBay auctions alone recently! I am so mad! [laughs] What are you going to do? At any rate, Don is now the third artist that I met on eBay. I also met Eric Powell on eBay – back when we were both selling any art we had because no one would hire us – and Butch Adams, who did “Very Big Monster Show.”
When Tom, Todd and I started talking about “Alien Pig Farm,” we realized it had a nice comedic edge to it, but with a great science fiction tradition, so we all immediately thought if we could find someone who had a Frank Frazetta-style mixed with a “Lil’ Abner” type of thing, that would be our guy and suddenly Marquez’s name popped into my head.
While “30 Days of Night” is currently being filmed, you have several other films in various stages of development and pre-production that we were curious about. What can you tell us about the current status of “The Lurkers?”
I’ve got the screenplay finished and it very much was what the comic was, then Tom and I sat back and went, “You know what? I’ve got some new ideas.” I’m right now in the process of writing a whole new draft because I think I found how to make the story work better in a movie. “The Lurkers” became kind of problematic. What worked in the comic didn’t translate as easily to film as I originally anticipated.
So, what’s changed?
I’m changing nuances of the story. It’s absolutely the same story. There’s an ending I left off the comic intentionally – there’s a double ending I didn’t use that will end up in the movie. It’s still the same characters and settings, but there were some needed changes. In a comic book, you can have a group of ghouls just walk up, someone turns around and that’s the reveal. You do that in a movie, and suddenly everyone’s asking, “Who are all these skinny pale guys?” [laughs] So I had to come up with a couple of ways to clearly illustrate who these guys are without having a character ask, “Who are these guys?”
|“Alien Pig Farm” #2|
Yeah, that’s kind of the “Star Trek” response.
It’s funny you mention that. I was watching one of the “Star Trek: The Next Generation” movies last night, and all through it, all Piccard had to do is raise an eyebrow and one of the characters would ask “What’s wrong?” [laughs] This happened like four or five times! Whenever something new was revealed, it would happen that way. God forbid Captain Piccard twitches because everyone will want to know what’s up!
And how about the status of another project – “In The Blood?”
That’s hit some snags. It’s tied up in some crap right now. I want to finish the series, the whole thing is ready to go, but we’re just working out some things right now. Hopefully we’ll get that one back out there and completed real soon.
When you consider pursuing a property for Raw Studios, how do you and Tom determine whether it should be a film or comic, or are you always considering both?
|“Alien Pig Farm” #1, pages 4 and 14|
Sometimes, it’s just really obvious. Take “Bad Planet,” for instance. When we were developing that, we realized that if we went out to pitch it as a movie, we knew we’d be out there trying to sell a strange pitch and it would be hard to sell a studio on a $200 million budget, so a comic book was necessary. Same thing with “Alien Pig Farm.” I suppose everything could wind up on screen, but for me, the fun of it is to take it through the comic book stage and see how it works out.
For one, when you’re writing a movie pitch, you start to hold yourself back. “Maybe we shouldn’t have 10,000 aliens invade. That would be too costly.” With comics, the attitude becomes, “Screw it! It’s the artist’s problem! Let’s have 20,000 aliens!” [laughs] There have been a couple of projects we’re working on where we know it’s a movie first and don’t think it would work as well as a comic. It comes down to a gut feeling and we’re by no means masters of this.
We’re still feeling around trying to figure out what RAW is and what we want from it. Right now, it is basically what Tom and I agree on. We became partners because we had so much in common, and so far that process has been really easy. I don’t think either one of us has come to the other with an idea and the other has responded with, “Are you fucking crazy?”
Well, maybe Tom’s come to me with a couple! [laughs]
Sounds like we need to call Tom next!
Check back in tomorrow as we get further into "Alien Pig Farm 3000" by talking Tom Jane and then Todd Farmer & Don Marquez with loads more preview art.
Jonah Weiland contributed to this story.
Now discuss this story in CBR’s Image Comics forum.
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