When the new “Battlestar Galactica” series debuted on the SciFi channel, it caught a number of people by surprise. The series starring Edward James Olmos was a huge success, quickly becoming the highest rated show on the SciFi channel and DVD sales have been through the roof. The show has garnered great critical acclaim for its writing and performances, but the show would be no where without the original, classic series to inspire it.
In September of 1978, the original series, which we’ll be calling “Classic Battlestar Galactica,” debuted on ABC Television. Created by TV legend Glen A. Larson, the series starred Lorne Greene as Commander Adama and ran only for a total of 36 episodes, but lived on over the years in syndication. Not only was the series a hit with fans, more importantly it spawned fandom that’s lasted almost 30 years now. Obviously, without this original series the new SciFi series would not exist.
With interest in both series running high, Dynamite Entertainment stepped in and announced that comic series based on both the new and classic series were planned. The writing chores on the new series are being handled by writer Greg Pak, whom CBR News recently spoke with. Today, Dynamite Entertainment announced that the previously “Classic Battlestar Galactica” series would be handled by writer Rick Remender, who’s recently been wowing readers with books “Fear Agent,” “Strange Girl” and “Sea of Red.” CBR News spoke with Remender about his plans for the series and what the original series meant to him when he grew up.
All right, so you’ll be writing the tales of “Classic Battlestar Galactica.” We’re talking old school sci-fi now! Like most everyone our age, you were a fan of the series when it originally ran on ABC. Talk about watching the show as a kid, what it meant to you at the time and what the show means to you today? Basically, what’s your relationship been with “Classic Battlestar Galactica?”
Ha! Well I don’t know about old school, I’d say the original is more like middle school.
Fair enough. We’re willing to concede that.
Yeah, I was a fan of the show to be sure. I think as a kid in the mid seventies all you could think about was “Star Wars,” so when “Battlestar Galactica” showed up it was on. Though the series is very different from “Star Wars” in many aspects, it’s hard to argue that it’s at least mildly derivative. However, as a kid I recall recognizing that the designs of the ships, though similar, were in a lot of ways cooler. The mechanical designs for “Battlestar Galactica” tend to fall somewhere between “Star Wars” and “Star Trek,” or they did in the late seventies when the show was on the air. “Battlestar Galactica’s” machinery is a bit sleeker than the original “Star Wars” and a bit more industrial than the original “Star Trek” — a perfect medium.
As for what it meant to me — I recall feeling for the plight of the characters a bit more than I did for Captain Kirk or Luke Skywalker. Only in that it’s more desperate and the stakes higher. The convoy in “Battlestar Galactica” is all that’s left of humanity and if they make a wrong turn– bye-bye human race. That connects on a few levels and it’s the core to the drama of the series.
While it’s been a long time since I’ve seen the show, there are certain episodes that remain ingrained in my memory. One episode in particular has never left my psyche, an episode that found a number of ships in the convoy on fire and it was bad. For some reason I’ve never been able to shake that memory. What about you? Any particular episodes that stuck with you?
Well, the bug people from the pilot who captured humans and put them in a hive to be used as food left some very powerful visuals on my six year old psyche. There was an elevator that was rigged to randomly select guests of a casino and bring them down to hive town. I think it was the idea of an elevator that took you to your doom. Scared my punk ass but good. Funny thing how your mind changes things when you’re a child.
I recently watched that episode for the first time in twenty-seven years and it was… dated. The monsters were designed well, but they didn’t move very realistically and the outfits were pretty clearly costumes. In my mind it had become something very different.
Allright, let’s move on from memory lane and move into the present by talking about the comic you’re writing. How’d you end up as the writer of “Classic Battlestar Galactica” for Dynamite?
Last year, when promoting “Fear Agent,” we got to know the guys over there. They thought I had the right kind of chops for this brand of Sci-Fi and asked me to write a pitch up, they and Universal approved it and off we went.
Sounds simple enough. So, let’s talk about the book itself. I understand your first story arc will last four issues. What kind of plans do you have story wise for the book? Which characters do you plan on working into the story?
I’ll be using all of the original cast. The first story arc focuses on Starbuck and Boomer in a survival situation. The two are stranded on one of the twelve original colonies soon after it’s been over run by Cylons in the great betrayal that costs humanity its solar system in the beginning of the series. I’m doing what I can to develop these two and their bond a bit while placing them in an extremely unfriendly environment with Galactica herself at stake.
I have big plans for Baltar the Betrayer, Colonel Tigh, Commander Adama and Apollo as well in future arcs. There are so many interesting characters on the stage this stuff will write itself. I’d like to get into the Cylons a bit more as well and look closer at their culture and motivations.
What makes “Classic Battlestar Galactica” such a compelling draw for you? And why do you think the show has had such long-lasting appeal?
It all comes back to the high concept. That these refugee humans will one day find Earth and populate it, if they can survive a civilization of robots bent on annihilating them. It has all the attractive elements of the original “Terminator” and “Matrix” films. I plan on tossing in a dose of the alienation and grit of HBO’s “Deadwood” and the high adventure of the old EC Sci-Fi comics in an attempt to try and draw out a few things I get from the series on a gut level. I like the idea of keeping the major motivations of the characters as basic as survival.
Finally, in terms of presentation, will the characters your writing be the same ones from the TV series? Will they look like the characters we saw on television, or have the actor’s faces not been licensed as well?
We’re working on artistic direction now, but you’ll be recognizing some familiar faces when we’re all done.
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