Looking To The Past: Remender Talks "Tales of the Fear Agent"

By now, you're all probably quite familiar with Heath Huston, Alien Exterminator, since his stories began to be told in the pages of "Fear Agent," which debuted last November from Image Comics. The series has been a hit for Image, having gained considerable interest from fans for it's sci-fi/action oriented storyline and dynamic art, even selling out every issue along the way. But creators Rick Remender and Tony Moore aren't content to just tell Heath's current tales - there are still plenty of stories to tell from his past.

Beginning with "Fear Agent" #5, the title will feature back-up stories featuring a variety of creators telling stories of Heath's past under the heading "Tales of the Fear Agent." When Remender and Moore launched the title, they received a bundle of inquiries from creators who were interested in being a part of the title. Figuring they'd be better off not turning down these talented individuals, the duo dreamed up "Tales of the Fear Agent" to allow those creators to play in their sand box and help expand upon Heath's back story. They invited another twenty or so of their favorite pros to participate and suddenly the crew had eight shorts completed with another eight on the way. "The stories are all basically tales of what Heath has been up to during his years floating around in space as an exterminator. Next year we will be collecting the shorts in a trade paperback," Remender told CBR News earlier this week.

"The stories all run eight pages. The people involved so far are a mixed bag of big names and under recognized geniuses," continued Remender. "In some cases they are coming to us, in others we are asking them and all in all the results are mind blowing awesomeness."

Thus far, the list of creators who've signed on for "Tales of the Fear Agent" is a long one.

  • Hilary Barta
  • Paul Renaud
  • Steve Niles
  • EJ Su
  • Jeff Parker
  • Shane White
  • Michael Cho
  • Justin Grey
  • Kieron Dwyer
  • Steve Mannion
  • Eric Powell
  • Francesco Francavilla
  • Micah Farritor
  • Jason Latour
  • B. Clay Moore
  • Mike Manley
  • Mark Rickettes
  • Rick Spears
  • Rich Woodall and Matt Talbot
  • Ivan Brandon
  • K.R. Whalen
  • Dan Panosian
  • and many others…

"Tales of the Fear Agent" was something the "Fear Agent" team was interested in doing from day one, but the idea really began to gel once the series launched and creators started to show some interest. "We liked the idea of having some back-ups done to help keep the book on track and they do help in that regard," said Remender. "However, once we saw all these amazing artists and writers take a stab at Heath, it was clear just how much fun this was going to be. The enthusiasm that people have for this book and this character is incredibly flattering and it really comes through in the work."

Each "Tales of the Fear Agent" story takes place in the ten years between the time Heath left Earth and issue #1 of the series. "The stories all take place during his years as an alcoholic exterminator roaming around the universe doing whatever odd jobs popped up," explained Remender. "I'm working closely with the writers to make sure what they are doing works with my plan for the book. So far all the shorts only help build the character, which is exactly what I'd hoped for."

For those of you thinking "Tales of the Fear Agent" means less room for the main story, well, not exactly. Issue #5, the first issue featuring a "Tales" back up, will run a seven page back up story with the main story running the usual 22 pages, meaning readers will get 29 full pages of story. In some cases, where the main story provides a nice breaking point, the team will shorten the story by three or four pages to fit in the "Tales" back ups.

Back up stories of this sort aren't unusual when you look back say 30 or 40 years in comics history, but today they're a rather rare site. Remender said the team is hoping to recapture some of that good fun that existed in the back up stories from comics past. "In today's market of eight issue storylines, it's important for us all to be able to tell a good story in a much smaller format. The EC guys did it, and yeah all the mainstream super hero and horror guys in the '60s and '70s could do it as well. It's a lot tougher than decompression, to boil your idea down and get in a meaningful yarn in eight pages takes technique and skill. Fortunately the guys we've got lined up have all of the above."

Look for the first "Tales of the Fear Agent" to debut in "Fear Agent #5 in June, 2006.

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