Jerwa Backtracks Battlestar in "Season Zero"

With "Battlestar Galactica" moving into a fourth year on SciFi, a spin-off movie in the works, and Dynamite Entertainment's ongoing comics series and spin-off mini-series a success, there is a clear hunger for material from Galactica fans. Writer Brandon Jerwa, author of the "Battlestar Galactica: Zarek" mini-series, looks for new ground to tread by going backward.

"'Season Zero' is exactly what it sounds like – a prequel to the Sci-Fi Channel series." Jerwa told CBR News. "Our time frame is roughly two years before the beginning of the TV show; we start with Bill Adama's first day as commander of the ship and move forward from there. If the book runs as long as I'd like it to, we'll end up pretty close to the beginning of the show."

"We're guaranteed six issues right now," added Jerwa, "but I have a plan all the way through issue #12 and some thoughts on a story that would run us through a second year. In terms of the 'story room' we have available, I think twenty-four (hell, why not twenty-five?!) issues is the absolute maximum."

Jerwa finds himself continuing to write in the "Battlestar Galactica" universe very much by his own design. "I pitched ['Season Zero'], title and all, to my editor at the tail-end of a 'Highlander' phone meeting. The 'Zarek' book had wrapped but I was feeling like I had a lot more to say in the universe, so I just sort of threw it out there. It was this completely off-hand thing…and we were literally moving ahead with it seventy-two hours later."

Jerwa is using the opportunity of telling a prequel story to handle the development of already well-known characters in a unique way. "It's been an interesting balancing act in the writing," said Jerwa. "So many of the characters have grown and adapted over the course of three seasons! I've been trying to make sure we see what they were while offering up the occasional glimpse into what they will be. We'll be delving into some hefty character stuff for a few of the principal characters, for sure. There's an overall story here, but the spotlight moves around a bit as we go along."

Another challenge in writing not just a prequel, but in licensed material is making sure all the pieces fit with what has gone before, in this case the television series and other comics, including Jerwa's own 'Zarek' mini-series. Said Jerwa, "All of those things are in continuity with one another, so there's a definite synergy. That's one of things I really love about being part of the ['Battlestar Galactica'] comics – all of the writers are working hard to paint this giant picture that serves to accent the even bigger picture of the TV show."

Jerwa continued, "Seriously, I promise you, two years from now when a ton of 'Battlestar Galactica' books are in the hands of the readers, it's going to a full day's worth of tightly connected reading. There's some great stuff coming up! A lot of the writers pass scripts to each other (myself included) and we've even gone so far as to include little references from other writers' books where it's appropriate and non-intrusive. It's like having this big, creative toy box and we're all having a blast digging out stuff to play with.

"Ultimately, 'Season Zero' will serve as a sort of direct bridge from the comic world to the TV show. No pressure, right?"

Being based on a popular and still running TV series, many fans come to the books looking to expand on the television experience and have certain expectations. Jerwa tries to meet those expectations by careful consideration of what works in the source material. "I do try to match the show's pacing and general direction as much as I can," said Jerwa. "Having read a few of the TV scripts, I'll even ape the recurring direction techniques from time to time! With something like this, it's a little harder to speak with your own voice, because you need to be speaking with the voice of the source material first and foremost."

Devoted "Battlestar Galactica" fans, however, are not the first audience with which Jerwa must first pass muster. "[Executive Producer] Ron Moore's office reads everything before and after and we get notes," Jerwa explained, "but they really let us 'do our thing' in terms of telling these stories. They will steer us on the right path if they feel something isn't in line with their vision or if it contradicts something they have planned, but it's a really constructive licensing relationship. I'm lucky enough to be hitting somewhere close to the mark most of the time, but even when I've received a larger set of notes, it's all presented in a really thoughtful way and, once I've made the changes, I see how right on the money they were."

Jerwa added, "In terms of the notes I get, I was pleased to see that 'Season Zero' #3 came back with absolutely no changes or notes! Maybe I'm doing this right."

While the series hasn't formally made its bow yet, it was previewed for the recent Free Comic Book Day, giving Jerwa a peek at what fans might think of the series. "There weren't a ton of formal reviews out there," said Jerwa, "so I've sort of had to gauge public opinion. Luckily, I've received quite a bit of positive feedback so far and if anyone's hated it, they haven't mentioned it!

"I did a signing on Free Comic Book Day and there was one guy who was so excited for the book, he went to another part of the store and read it before he had me sign it. None of the other books not even the great 'Lone Ranger' story on the book's flip side; he just had to have 'Season Zero'. He loved it, so I guess that's lucky for me. He could have had a gun for all I know."

Jerwa's desire to work in the "Battlestar" universe continues beyond his plans for "Season Zero." "There is a 'Battlestar Pegasus' script that has been in development hell for about nine months now," Jerwa said. "I'm assuming the forthcoming TV movie that will debut before Season Four is holding it up, as that movie will deal with the Pegasus and set the stage for some events in Season Four."

Jerwa continued, "Dynamite is certainly aware that I want to continue working in the 'Battlestar Galactica' world, so we'll see what happens. Right now, my primary concern is making sure that 'Season Zero' is being well-received by the fans, because the sales of the book will dictate its shelf life."

First and foremost, though, Jerwa remains a "Battlestar Galactica" fan. "I try to remain absolutely spoiler-free whenever possible! It's hard to resist temptation when it comes to your favorite TV show, but it's like waiting for that first kiss…totally worth the wait.

"As for the finale, I loved it. I know it certainly blew people's minds and a lot of fans didn't know how to react, but I loved the set-up for Season Four and thought it was a real one-two punch to keep everybody reeling until then. Hopefully, 'Season Zero' will fill the empty hole in everyone's lives while the show is prepping for 2008!"

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