Something For The Weekend: Talking To John Layman About Outer Darkness, the CHEW Crossover And More

by Oliver MacNamee

Last weekend we gave you a rundown of the new Outer Darkness collection from John Layman and Afu Chan and this weekend, as an extra special belated Holiday treat for you, we have an interview with writer and creator John Layman on the second half of this throughly enjoyable sci-fi/horror space opera. Enjoy.

Olly MacNamee: The second volume of Outer Darkness is out this week, which closes out the first season of the sci-fi horror series. Do you feel you accomplished what you’d planned to cover, or did other ideas rear their head as this series progressed, such as the CHEW/Outer Darkness crossover?

John Layman: Yeah, if anything, I feel like I had a little more room to breathe. CHEW TPBs were 5 issues, and most of the minis I do are 5 issues in length. The first two Outer Darkness story arcs are six issues each, which feels huge to me.

OM: Where there any plot points you had to jettison, or even some that came more to the fore as you allowed your cast of characters to develop? 

JL: Nope. Everything I wanted in their for Season One is there. Lot to set up, but I was satisfied with all the characters getting to where they were supposed to get. 

OM: In this collection of issues #6 – #12, we do start to get a far better insight into the backstory and mindset of Captain Rigg don’t we? His love for Rochelle – a women he had a hand in dying – seems to haunt him and, no doubt, a big part of his motivation throughout this series and into the second season too…

JL: Outer Darkness is ultimately a redemption story. It may not look like it, because everybody is so nasty and hateful, but this book was intended to have a “happy” ending, sorta the opposite of how I went into CHEW. Of course, to be redeemed, you need something to be redeemed from, where is where Rigg is at where we first meet him. 

OM: And yet, he still comes out of this series as the ‘bastard’ you referred to him as last time we talked. But, not as big a bastard as we though, now we have some indication of his reasoning.  

JL: Correct. I think probably every “bastard” has more dimension to them, you just need to get to know them better. Nobody thinks they are the bad guy of the story, even though some people clearly are. 

OM: Even with the growing horrors of Outer Drrkness, there’s still time for some humour too. You and Afu Chan must have had a blast depicting the scene in issue #10 (‘Shore Leave’) in which Rigg interviewed for a new crew.  

JL: I can’t do straight horror. And even the best horror movies have some levity to them, moments to counterbalance tensions and scares. And Afu, like me, clearly has a goofy side. It’s fun to juxtapose both (and the upcoming Outer Darkness/CHEW REALLY gives Afu a chance to stretch his comedic chops.) 

OM: A stand out issue for me, included in this new trade, was Outer Darkness #6 and the introduction of Sister Magdalena Antonia via the haunted house that the Charon discovers in the depths of space. How do you even go about marrying horror tropes such as the haunted house with the conventions of sci-fi so successfully? I mean, you’ve even got ghost Nazis! Horror still seems to be a big part of your masterplan with no horror concept to difficult to include. Still having fun, I see? 

JL: A nun pregnant with a demon child is pretty much required in any horror ensemble, is it not? 

OM: Now, you revealed to use previously that Outer Darkness was going to be a three season spectacular. Where does you’re newly announced CHEW/Outer Darkness mini-series fit into these plans?

JL: It was my hope that we would do specials between arcs. I’ve already written an oversized Zero Issue that sorta shows the Outer Darkness alternate history of space travel, the true history of Copernicus’ discoveries, the true story of the moon landing, what actually happened on the space shuttle Challenger. It was my hope I’d be able to do these specials, a Christmas special, annual, Halloween special, between arcs. But, sadly, I’m not sure sales are going to warrant it. 

OM: Will we be seeing any more of Tony Chu after this mini winds up? Or, os it too early to say given how busy you and Rob Guillory are these days? 

JL: More CHEW is coming. Outer Darkness/CHEW is just the warm up. But I probably can’t be any more specific than that right now without pissing off my masters at Image.

OM: With a whole new crew, and a real turnaround for readers to get their heads round, what next for Rigg, his new crew, and the crew of the Charon, some of whom are out for his blood?

JL: Just as Season 1 put two factions in opposition of each other, those following Rigg and those following Satalis. Season 2 is going to be a chase, with Satalis determined to catch Rigg, recover his stolen starship and bring Rigg to justice. It’s also a chase through a war zone, into enemy territory, further and further away from space colonized by humans, and closer and closer toward the book’s namesake, the Outer Darkness. 

OM: As always, it’s been a pleasure to catch up with you about all things Outer Darkness, Here’s to Chew/Outer Darkness and then onto season 2 and more horrors in outer space! I can’t wait. 

JL: You and me both! Thanks, Olly!

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