Politics Not Weird Enough? Saucer State Pits the President vs. Aliens

From 2012 to 2013, Paul Cornell and Ryan Kelly's Saucer Country ran for 14 issues under DC Comics' Vertigo imprint, gaining notice among fans for an acclaimed mix of political intrigue and science fiction that starred Arcadia Alvarado -- the governor of New Mexico, a presidential candidate and an alleged victim of an alien abduction. When it ended, there was clearly more story to tell, and Cornell made his intentions to continue the series clear -- which paid off last year at Comic-Con International in San Diego, with the announcement of Saucer State at IDW Publishing.

Though the publisher is new, the creative team remains the same, with Cornell and Kelly both back for the six-issue Saucer State and a subsequent six-issue miniseries that is set to act as a conclusion. Of course, the political situation in the United States is a little bit different now than it was back in 2012 -- different from it was at last year's Comic-Con, frankly -- but it's something Cornell said he and Kelly saw coming, making this current series as relevant as ever.

In Saucer State -- which Cornell calls more a "whole new movie" than a jumping-on point of the original series -- Arcadia Alvarado is now the President of the United States, and she's looking to use the lofty powers of that position to figure out the truth of her abduction. That may not get to be a priority, as she's got "the biggest event in world history" to deal with right in issue #2.

In advance of Saucer State #1 going on sale this week, CBR spoke with Cornell about the timeliness of the series, the latest round of "UFO myth and political intrigue" and the evolution of his collaboration with Kelly. Additionally, CBR has an early look at the Jeffrey Veregge variant cover and solicitation text for Saucer State #4, in advance of IDW's full August 2017 solicitations debuting online tomorrow.

Saucer State #1 cover by Ryan Kelly.

CBR: Paul, when Saucer State was first announced last July at Comic-Con, the American political situation was pretty wild, but, well, no one quite expected the current reality. There are a lot of jokes out there about how shows like Veep or House of Cards can't compete with the actual news -- as the writer of this comic, do you feel anything like that?

Paul Cornell: Saucer State is pretty much about the current state of US politics, which I'm pleased to say we kind of anticipated, in that the threads about psy ops influencing American elections began in the previous volume. Not only are we a picture of the brightest timeline (or are we?), but the title is about the global tensions that led to where we are now. Plus 'aliens'!

Is there something therapeutic in this environment about crafting a story with a president character who is a, let's say, more positive figure?

Oh yeah. Whenever I have Arcadia act professionally and like a President, or have those around her work with proper politics, I feel like they're all jumping high over what's become a pretty low bar.

Being the president is a big job -- we've all seen the before and after pictures of presidents at the start and end of their terms, showing how much they've aged in those years. How does the office change Arcadia Alvarado?

Well, she's only just started, we begin well within the 100 days. And at the end of #1, she's confronted with... well, it's huge, the defining moment of her Presidency, and we'll see just how well she deals.

Saucer State #2 cover by Ryan Kelly.

Based on solicitations, it looks like the scale picks up in a big way with #2 -- the text reads "the biggest event in world history," so that sounds pretty huge. Do you see this as something of a tonal/genre shift for the series, too?

Not really. Saucer State is specifically about this big spoilery event and our characters dealing with it, and at the same time finding answers to all the questions about UFO mythology that propelled the first series, while the first series was about getting Arcadia elected. So it's a whole new story for new readers to treat as their own. (It's hardly even a 'jumping on point', it's a whole new movie, and you don't need to know a thing.)

But all the characters are there, all those voices and relationships, and we're still doing what only we do, really, UFO myth and political intrigue. This series comprises two six-issue miniseries, which will complete and conclude the whole story. We're dealing with: Serpo; Orthon; the Silver Space Lady; the fairies and their produce; who exactly sent the Pioneer 10 Couple after Kidd; and very much the Russians.

It's never a guarantee to have both the writer and artist available to return to a series after years apart -- what's it been like collaborating on this again with Ryan? Was it pretty much picking up where you left off?

Ryan has actually got better in the meantime. I didn't think that was possible, considering how good his acting, character moments and sense of atmosphere worked in the first series, but with this he's blowing my socks off every time. Literally, I have to check my emails barefoot now. We're all just kind of staring at him with our jaws lolling.

Saucer State #4 variant cover by Jeffrey Veregge.

Saucer State #4 (of 6)

  • Cover A: Ryan Kelly
  • Cover B: Jeffrey Veregge
  • Paul Cornell (w) • Ryan Kelly (a & c)
  • How do you use cake to summon something in the desert? Should you? Space Warfare Task Group reports back, and now Arcadia might have a gun in time. There's a grave for someone who's meant to be heading back to Earth. No more damned data. The Russians say something terrible. And Fausto plays the trumpet. It's the White House vs. ufology vs. incoming actual real damn aliens. With a flying bedstead.
  • FC • 32 pages • $3.99
    • Picks up where Saucer Country left off!
    • One of the very few mainstream comics to be nominated for SF’s prestigious Hugo Award!
    • Tackles real world US politics from the point of view of a female President!

    Saucer State #1 is on sale this Wednesday. Issue #2 is scheduled for release on June 28.

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