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Exploring The X-Files and Rockstars: A NYCC Interview With Joe Harris

Written by Tim Midura on Friday, October 14 2016 and posted in Features

Exploring The X-Files and Rockstars: A NYCC Interview With Joe Harris

On detectives, urban legends, and a whole lot of rock and roll.

Source: NYCC

Joe Harris is an American comic book writer and screenwriter. His film credits include Darkness Falls and The Tripper. His current comics work includes The X-Files at IDW and Snowfall and the upcoming Rockstars at Image. 


Tim: How has the X-Files relaunch been so far?

Joe: It's been really gratifying. I mean, we've had great fans since the beginning and they've been really kind and generous and supportive. I think it's easy to be cynical when you're talking about a licensed property. It's easy to think, oh, they're not going to get it right. But we've had a pretty hardcore group that have stuck with us since 2013. In launching the new book, I was a little concerned how it was going to work after we had done Season 10 and 11 for so long, and if this relaunch was going to be as much fun for me, for the creative team, and for them. So far it's been a continuation of the same. We do mostly whatever we want to do. They let me know if they don't like it but, for the most part, they tell me they dig it.

Tim: How's not being restricted to the season format affected the book?

Joe: To be honest with you, it hasn't. We're still following the same idea. We're alternating "mytharc" stories with "monster of the month" stories -- my term for "monster of the week." If anything, we've got to be a little wary that the show may yet come back and that will dictate some of the things we do in the future. But, honestly, it's been really a continuation in that no one really bothers me about what it is I want to do. My editor Denton [Tipton, IDW editor] is great. IDW is wonderful. FOX is supportive and Chris Carter is always very generous with his support as well. Matt and Jordie, my regular collaborators, have really stuck the landing here too so it's been rewarding all around.

Tim: So the comics were canon before the show came back. What's the status of that now?

Joe: What? I don't? I'm sorry—is this a bad connection? <laughs> I don't really know, honestly. I don't have a good prepared answer for that, other than, obviously, I can't tell you with a straight face that our Season 10 and 11 comics are canon. I think they hold up as really good X-Files stories, if an alternate universe version of them. It's always a challenge when you're working with established properties like this anyway. I can't kill Fox Mulder and, not that I have a burning desire to, but there are always restrictions when you're working on someone else's properties anyway. If I was writing X-Men or Batman, they'd be similar. Honestly, I don't encounter that many problems. Usually the tenets we try to follow are for the good of the fiction anyway, like trying to make sure that paradigm of "Mulder the believer" and "Scully the skeptic," are adhered to, or subverted artfully if it's flipped. Just keeping an eye on things that are essentially X-Files. It's one of the biggest hurdles I have to jump and it's one that I accept willingly.

Tim: I feel like the subverting of their stereotypes kind of changed later in the seasons anyway.

Joe: Yeah, yeah, but you acknowledge that. We bring a working understanding of the paradigm.

Tim: What draws you to Scully and Mulder as characters?

Joe: They keep hiring me! No. I was a fan of the X-Files back at the beginning. New network. New programming. It was stuff that you weren't seeing on tv and I was just the right age that it really hit me. They're dynamite characters, very rich, very connected to their own personal mythologies, as well overarching conspiracy mythologies. They're both integrally meshed in. They're played by two dynamite actors that have wonderful chemistry as actors and characters together. I remain humbled and proud of any tiny significance that I contribute to this franchise. It's an honor and a thrill.

Tim: So the third X-Files holiday special comes out in December. Is Mulder going to be visited by the three ghosts?

Joe: He is. It's going to be a little bit skewed. I don't want to give too much away. But all I can say is keep an eye out for Jacob Morley.

Tim: What's your favorite conspiracy theory?

Joe: My favorite conspiracy theory? Let me think about that for a second. I don't know if it's my favorite or not, and I think it's not a true one, but I will argue vehemently with someone who wants to tell me that Yoko Ono broke up The Beatles. Because that's not true and that's not fair.

Tim: That can lead into some Rockstars questions. It comes out in December?

Joe: Yeah, here's a quick recap. It's a supernatural rock and roll thriller. The short pitch I tell people is it's Almost Famous meets Supernatural. It explores urban legends and mysteries woven into rock and roll's fabric, throughout the decades and the genres. It's firmly got one foot in the '70s. It follows two young rock and roll investigators as they try to get to the bottom of these cases.

Tim: So it's kinda got some similarities to The X-Files, as it's got urban legends and solving mysteries.

Joe: Certainly. It's got characters that can't believe what they're getting into and suddenly they're over their heads dealing with some incredible, fantastic stuff. It's definitely of a bunch of different genres and sub-genres I like, to be honest. Thrillers, horror, adventure -- they work their way in there and mix with my understanding of rock and roll history, which is something I adore.

Tim: What kind of urban legends are you going to touch on?

Joe: Well the examples we give in the book, the famous ones we mention are things like Paul Is Dead, the famous Paul McCartney death in The Beatles. Which may or may not have foisted in the '60s. Things like does Dark Side of the Moon sync up to the opening to The Wizard of Oz, but this is just background. The first arc of the book is called Nativity In Blacklight. It follows our heroes, a young guy named Jackie Mayer, who has this strange, almost magical, ability to see the connective tissue between a lot of these apocryphal rock and roll stories. He discovers that there's something else going on, there's a supernatural undercurrent that connects everything. And the first arc of Rockstars is really about this huge '70s band called Blue Rider. They fit right in with Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. And it focuses on a string of groupie murders that happened in the '70s, that no one ever solved, our main character Jackie recognizes a pattern, as it begins again in present day Los Angeles, so that's how we get into Rockstars.

Tim: Are you creating your own urban legends then?

Joe: For the most part. But we'll touch on everything from the 27 Club to if Led Zeppelin sodomized groupies with mud sharks.

Tim: Did Yoko Ono break up The Beatles?

Joe: Yeah, did Yoko break up The Beatles.

Tim: The colors in Rockstars really evoke that psychedelic '70s feel in the first issue. Will the color palette change as the series focuses on different musical periods?

Joe: I think that's a strong possibility. Between this team of Megan's artwork, Kelly Fitzpatrick's colors and Tom Muller's design, I'd be shocked if we don't keep escalating and building on what you'd expect.

Tim: Do you think Skydog will be the fan favorite character?

Joe: I'd have no problem with this. I just hope his Allman Brothers Band inspiration isn't entirely lost in translation.

Tim: If the comic is read backwards, will the reader figure out the hidden message?

Joe: If this comic is read backwards, change your medication. Or increase the dosage.


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About the Author - Tim Midura

Born in the frozen tundra of Massachusetts, Tim Midura has long possessed a love for comic books and records. After stealing the beard of Zeus and inventing the pizza bagel, a much more heavily tattooed and bearded Tim Midura has finally settled in San Diego. He's the world's first comics journalist who doesn't want to become a comics writer. Find him on twitter, facebook or by email.

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