Aliens on the Wrong Planet

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Thomas Jane, Steve Niles and Todd Farmer are up to no good. These three mischievous individuals are letting all hell break loose in Alien Pig Farm 3000, a joint production by Raw Studios and Image Comics hitting stores soon.

In the new four-issue mini-series, some poor Kentucky pig farmers are facing a threat from outer space (or, actually, underground), as they must fend off an alien menace, and stop the critters from eating all of their prize animals.

And come July, Niles and Jane, along with cover artist Tim Bradstreet and interior artist James Daly III (replacing Lewis Larosa) finally continue Bad Planet. The first-ever Raw Studios title, Bad Planet debuted in December 2005, but did not continue because of artistic problems and a busy schedule.

Now, with all their ducks—and pigs, and aliens—in order, the Raw Studios gang is hitting its stride, and we’d like to warn you of the carnage ahead by way of this triple-interview with Farmer, Jane and Niles.

BROKEN FRONTIER: Alien Pig Farm and Bad Planet can both be classified as ‘alien sci-fi with a horror twist.’ Everybody knows that Steve’s a horror guy first and foremost, but what about Tom and Todd—are sci-fi and aliens what gets you all jazzed up? 

TODD FARMER: Steve’s a horror guy?  I’m only aware of his sci-fi lesbian erotica written under the name, Puffylips Hoolahan.  As for me, I saw Alien at eleven years old and have been hooked on the genre ever since.  I love the limitless imagination sci-fi offers. 

And I’m totally pumped about the re-release of Bad Planet.  Considering I had nothing to do with it, that’s saying something.  I’m normally way too self-involved to find interest in anything other than me.

THOMAS JANE: I saw Alien when I was eight and have never been the same since.  That was also the year my dad stopped beating me with his bare hands and switched to the belt.

BF: Speaking of which, Steve, you’re one of the trendsetters of the horror comics revival over the past couple of years. Does it bother you in any way that you’re being typecast as ‘the horror creator’, like an actor who’s always playing the same kind of roles, or is this just the way you want things to be?

Click to enlargeClick to enlargeSTEVE NILES: Why? What’d you hear?! Who’s talking about me?! …People can label me what they want. Anybody who actually looks at my stuff sees I write more than horror, but I love horror so I don’t mind being labelled.

It does strike me as odd though that people always ask me this, but nobody ever asks Bendis or Millar (who I love by the way) why they only write men in tights. But to answer your question, no I don’t mind.

BF: I don’t have an answer for you as to why people don’t ask them, but you do have a point. Now, Todd, Alien Pig Farm is your first comic project. Most people who’ve worked in film before dabbling in the comics pool all adore the latter medium because it allows their imagination to run rampant. Does the same go for you?

FARMER: In every way possible.  In Hollywood screenwriters have become typists.  We type up other people’s visions.  There are those who will argue this point but they are either lying or delusional.   And then there are the pounds of rewrites destroying our world’s oak and maple tree supplies. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love the rewriting process but I’m a firm believer that eventually you will rewrite the magic right out of a screenplay.  The good ones stop before they go too far. 

In comics the creators still control the content.  And the schedules won’t allow overwriting.  I had so much fun working with Tom and Steve on Pig Farm that I’ve changed my evil ways in film.  I’m only writing specs now.  I’ve grown weary of cookie cutter, accounting-approved Hollywood. 

I’ve gone back to writing what I want to write, what I’m passionate about and then hoping both the gatekeepers and later the audience share my passion.  It’s so much more rewarding on a personal level.

BF: How does the writing process differ from that of Bad Planet, where it’s Tom and Steve who’re doing the heavy lifting?

FARMER: Tom and Steve still did the heavy lifting.  I had them rearranging my living room while I was in my office writing.

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BF: As the title suggest, this series involves aliens and a Kentucky pig farm—how do they end up where they do? By mistake?

FARMER: Less a mistake and more a miscalculation.  Aliens crash landed on Earth a million years ago and have been buried underground since.  Until that is, a couple of Kentucky moonshiners wake them up and hilarity ensues.

BF: The artist on the book is Don Marquez, who I’m sure didn’t end up pencilling aliens by mistake. What makes him the right man for the job, and where did you find him?

JANE: Every time this Marquez guy took a crap, Niles would buy it off the internet.  So we checked out his stuff and sho’ nuff, now I’m buying the crap too! Don has the perfect blend of L’il Abner style comic art coupled with good old fashioned adventure styling. We love ‘im, and we know you will too.

NILES: It’s true. I own a lot of Don’s stuff and I always wanted to work with him but it was movie star boy who talked him into it. I don’t know what Tom does but everybody seems to say yes to him.  You see that line-up of covers? Stout! Shultz! Wrightson! Kaluta! Stevens! Bradstreet. Freakin’ legends, every one of them. I think Tom has pictures these guys want kept secret. That’s the only explanation.

JANE: Corben said no. I don’t understand it. 

BF: Now, I’m not fishing for spoilers, but why is this is a four-issue mini series? Because the only way to get rid of the aliens is to blow the whole of Kentucky right off the map?

NILES: We wouldn’t blow up Kentucky. All Todd’s cousins/wives would get blowed up.

FARMER: I don’t think we’re giving away any spoilers because it’s no secret that Kentucky’s nuclear weapons program is still in its infancy.  These aliens, although known for their meat eating skills, are actually quite intellectually savvy. They knock out communications leaving Kentucky to fend for itself. 

Thus, when you are fighting with potato guns it will take four issues to either rid the threat or be devoured completely—mathematically speaking that is.

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BF: Bad Planet #1 was released towards the end of 2005, but the series won’t resume till this summer. What caused the long hiatus?

JANE: We lost our penciller to illness, and it took a while to find someone that Tim wanted to ink and that could take the old guys place. As it turns out, James Daly more than fills Larosa’s shoes, he splits them at the seams and wears them as a freakin’ hat. We could not be happier with Jim’s work. It turned out to be a happy accident, and the 15-month wait was more than worth it.

NILES: I was just talking to Tom about this. It’s pretty amazing how we’ve managed to weather some tough storms to complete this series. This is due mainly to the tenacity of Jane and Bradstreet. They haven’t given up on Bad Planet for one second.

BF: Over the course of the past 15 months, did you guys make any tweaks to the original plot or premise, or was everything left pretty much intact?

NILES: The second time Tom and I met, we talked through the story and wrote down the basic beats. What we have now is pretty much what we planned that day. I can’t think of many projects I work on that wind up that way.

JANE: We had the story down, it was just a matter of filling in the blanks. Jim is pretty fast, which we were NOT used to at first, so he was right on our ass up to the finish line with pages.

BF: Will the upcoming reprint of the first issue look exactly like the original did?

JANE: It’ll be on better paper stock with an all new cover by James Daly and Tim Bradstreet.

NILES: I wanted to put “Captain America Dies in This Issue” but ‘Street and Jane vetoed me.

BF: Yeah, I can see why. [Laughs] Does Raw Studios have any other projects in the pipeline besides Bad Planet and Alien Pig Farm?

Click to enlargeClick to enlargeJANE: We have In the Blood, The Lycan and an as yet untitled Robinson Crusoe on Mars type story, a real throwback to the old space adventure type films.

NILES: That’s what we have now, but there are a couple rough ideas Tom, Tim and I need to flesh out.

FARMER: I just finished the scripts for The Lycan, a six issue series based on a story Tom came up with.  Honestly, when he first mentioned it I didn’t think I’d be interested but his outline blew me away.  One of the best complements I can give a writer is to say, “I wish I’d thought of it.”  And the outline had a dozen ideas I wish I’d thought of.

BF: And, before we really bow out, how about giving us a quick update on the different Hollywood stuff you’ve got running?

JANE: I just got done shooting The Mist; Elmore Leonard’s Killshot comes out in September and Mutant Chronicles comes in 2008. If Niles ever finishes the screenplay, we’ll be doing Lurkers next year. And I’ll be directing Dark Country in 3D.

NILES: RAW just produced our first film called The Tripper, written and directed by David Arquette. 30 Days of Night hits theatres October 19th. And yeah, I got to finish that damn Lurkers script.  I hope to have some news on Cal McDonald soon as well as a children’s cartoon (take that type-casters!). I also just completed a script for Bigfoot.

FARMER: I wrote Clock Tower for the Mayhem Project based on the Capcom video game.  I spoke with Brad Luff yesterday who says they’re now interviewing directors.  I’ve also got Psychopath with John Carpenter, Sleepers with Comic Book Movies; I’m developing a TV pilot with Benderspink Productions and just finished a spec last week.  And I’m sure everyone saw the photos in US Weekly of me climbing out of my car the day I forgot to wear panties.  

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