Believe it, people are super stoked about “The X-Files” these days. With the recent announcement that creator Chris Carter will return to the fan-favorite television series for a six-episode season at FOX along with original stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, “X-Files” fever has been renewed like never before.
However, before word of the new TV show even started making the rounds, Joe Harris launched “The X-Files: Season 10” at IDW Publishing, an in-continuity series that directly continued where the show left off. As that volume comes to a close July 1 with issue #25, another — appropriate titled “The X-Files: Season 11” with art by Matthew Dow Smith — is ready to take its place this August.
All that enthusiasm doesn’t translate into good things for the characters as “Season 10” comes to a close — especially for Agent Mulder. The government has labeled him a Julian Assange- or Edward Snowden-level secret thief. On the run to clear his name, the now-former FBI agent has to keep everything covert, including his continuing relationship with Agent Scully who is doing her best to assist without getting caught.
CBR News spoke with Harris about his working relationship with Carter, Mulder’s fugitive status and what the resurrected television series means for the story they’re telling in the comics.
CBR News: Did Fox’s announcement of the TV revival change any of your plans for “X-Files: Season 11?”
Joe Harris: Honestly, no. I’ve had a plan heading into the ‘finale’ of the “Season 10” series that bears fruit over the long haul in Season 11. Once I know what the TV series is going to tackle, we’re going to try and bring things into some semblance of conformity. But these two developments — that of the Season 11 series and the new six-episode announcement from FOX — happened along parallel, but separate tracks.
Back when “Season 10” was first announced, you mentioned that Chris Carter was reading outlines and scripts and giving notes. How has that relationship evolved, and is he still doing that even with the new show in the works?
Well, Chris is obviously busy at the moment, but I did just speak to him the other night and we went over some of his plans for the coming television episodes so that I might keep some of this stuff in mind for the future of the comics.
With the new series announced, have you noticed more people talking about or looking into the comics?
I definitely hear the enthusiasm at the conventions, and thrown my way on social media. The fans were always enthusiastic. I heard lots of joyous squeals when the comics were announced, then launched, but you’d be right to assume it’s gotten even more SQUEE! inducing with word of the new episodes impacting.
You’re incorporating some real life elements in this series by way of a secret stealer in the vein of Snowden or Assange. Is it important for you to use those kinds of true elements in a story like this?
Oh, absolutely. To my mind, for as much as I enjoy revisiting and referencing elements of the past, “The X-Files” has to be refreshed to accommodate the true-to-date aspects of society, government and life that take paranoia and secrets to another level. Honestly, the ’90s feel quaint when you consider a world with our surveillance state, remote control warfare and uncapped money flowing into government, elections, think tanks, and on and on.
“The X-Files” aired during what I think you rightly called a now-quaint seeming time. Were there specific areas where you saw the story needing to “grow up,” so to speak, to fit in with a more modern landscape?
Given what we see each and every day, with big money wielding huge influence over the courts, elections, trade policy and just how, when and for how much money America goes to war, I think the idea that there’s a cabal within our government that steers things is quaint and toothless by today’s standards. The real influence is money, unrestrained cash filling candidate coffers and super PACs. Corporations and industry are on top of every aspect of our government. Lobbyists get their say first, second and third. We’re in a post-Citizens United world. It’s about money now, and that money has never flowed more freely and with less control.
Mulder’s back is against the wall as this series picks up. He’s on the run, trying to keep himself alive. What can you tell us about his motivations while he’s out there on his own?
Well, Mulder’s been framed and he’s going to be hunted because of what he knows, what he’s believed to have trafficked in and what, most importantly, he’ll come into possession of while out on the road. Mulder is our “Citizen Four” due to events and decisions that will become clear as “The X-Files: Season 10” reaches its double-sized climax finale in issue #25 later this June.
As for his motivations, he’s trying to clear his own name and protect Agent Scully who’ll find herself still working at the FBI, a subject of investigation due to her obvious connections to the fugitive Mulder, as well as sought by forces outside the government and justice system who want what Mulder knows, has and will come into discovery of.
As for just who’s really hunting, and helping, Mulder… that’s going to be revealed in time.
As you mentioned, Mulder’s on the run and Scully is being investigated by the FBI as the new series starts. How is she able to help him out?
Per the fallout of the imminent “X-Files: Season 10” #25, Scully is going to find herself stuck in a bit of a pickle. She’ll know things that might clear Mulder of suspicion and any charges he faces, but she daren’t tell anyone about them. She’s not sure who she can trust, nor who among her usual cast of friends and allies have been compromised too. Still, she’s going to work to find Mulder and bring him home.
Does having Mulder be fully on the run and, at least in the beginning, on his own allow you to explore some new and different aspects of his character?
Somewhat, I suppose. We do see Mulder “operating” with new people (along with some old friends too, so don’t worry there), and the qualities and traits and aspects of his character are given different foils and friends to bounce off of. There’s a rawness to his being out there, and vulnerable, in the ways we’re playing that harken back a bit to the show’s origins, where he was really throwing himself into these dangerous, batshit situations in his dogged pursuit of the truth he was after.
Also, he’s a charming and handsome guy. And I really have to resist making him “too attractive” to the ladies sometimes, lest my twitter feed reach out and strangle me.
You mentioned existing X-Files characters appearing. Can you say anything more about them?
Oh, definitely. Issue #2 is going to bring back a fan-favorite, horribly horrifying family that I get asked about all the time. And we’ve got some other tricks up our sleeves.
You started working with Matthew Dow Smith halfway through the previous volume. How has it been collaborating with him into this new season?
I’ve been so fortunate to work with amazing artists from the beginning from Michael Walsh, to Menton3, Colin Lorimer, Tom Mandrake and so many others. But Matt has really signed on and made this book his. We have a great shorthand now and I love how the books flow, cinematically, shot by shot as I script them and he so wonderfully brings them to life.
I also have to add, [colorist] Jordie Bellaire has been a rock on this title. She’s been with us from the beginning and contributes so, so much to both the details on the things you’d expect, and in less-expected but totally appreciated ways, adding to the narrative and shifting settings and time of day to best suit the story. I love working with Matt. I presume he enjoys working with me. But we all love working with Jordie!
How has your working relationship with Matt evolved over that time?
I tend to write really, really detailed scripts. I treat them like shot lists as much as foundations for dialogue. I feel like I’m directing the movie, on paper, when I script comics, and that’s definitely how “The X-Files” comics get written. Over time, I’ve really learned to trust Matt. I’ve tried to leave him some room where I think he’ll fill in it, and I’ve piled on the details, photo reference and other stuff where I think he’ll appreciate having it.
Since we started working together, Matt’s also married a huge “X-Files” fan, so I think the pressure to stick the landing is hitting him from multiple angles now!
“The X-Files: Season 11” #1 will make readers believe this August from IDW Publishing.
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