BY JENNIFER M. CONTINO
Farscape fans will be able to find out what happens next after The Peacekeeper Wars in the pages of an ongoing Boom comic series from creator Rockne O'Bannon, writer and Farscape novelist Keith R. A. DeCandido and artist Tommy Patterson. DeCandido is well versed in the Farscape lore, but he said this new series is very open to those who don't know much about the Farscape worlds. DeCandido told THE PULSE, "I'm a firm believer in the maxim that every comic book is somebody's first. So I made an effort to be as inclusive as possible (without boring the hardcore fans)."


THE PULSE: You've worked on a lot of different novels in and around the worlds of sci-fi, fantasy and superheroes. What is it about the Farscape Universe that you find the most intriguing?

KEITH DECANDIDO:
Several things: the world building in the show is excellent, as the Henson Creature Shop is able to create some magnificent aliens of many more varied types than you often get on budget-limited TV series. Also the characters are believable and complex and interesting, and they developed wonderfully over four seasons and a miniseries. I particularly liked the fact that the protagonists weren't necessarily heroes and the antagonists weren't necessarily villains.

THE PULSE: For our readers who might not know much about the Farscape world, but are fans of your Spider-Man novels, what makes this world tick?

DECANDIDO:
Well, the premise of Farscape is very similar to that of Buck Rogers or Flash Gordon, to wit, a human from contemporary Earth finds himself in a strange alien landscape. Where Buck wound up in the future and Flash on Mongo, John Crichton ends up on the other side of the galaxy on a living ship full of escaped prisoners. There are several factions vying for power in this neck of the woods, and knowledge of wormholes—similar to that which brought Crichton across space—becomes a sticking point, culminating in a major confrontation during The Peacekeeper Wars, the post-finale miniseries that ended the show.

THE PULSE: How open is the Farscape ongoing to that person who might be coming to the series fresh? What kind of background information is necessary to understand what's happening in the first few pages?

DECANDIDO:
Well, the first two pages provide that background. It would help to be familiar with Farscape, obviously, because then you're aware of the character relationships, but I'm a firm believer in the maxim that every comic book is somebody's first. So I made an effort to be as inclusive as possible (without boring the hardcore fans).

THE PULSE: I know this story picks up after The Peacekeeper Wars, but how soon afterwards? Is it moments, days, weeks, months?

DECANDIDO:
Very shortly after. In fact, the splash page for #1 is one of the closing images from PKW: what I jokingly call the "Kunta Kinte" shot of Crichton and Aeryn holding their son up to the window and calling the universe his playground, which hearkens back to the like scene at the beginning of the Roots miniseries.

THE PULSE: What was it about this point in time, that made it idea to continue Farscape's story? Why go for the present/future instead of detailing some of the untold tales from the past?

DECANDIDO:
Well, there's still a fan base for Farscape, and new webisodes are being planned to show on SciFi.com, and the post-finale comic books that Dark Horse and IDW are doing for Buffy and Angel have shown that there's an audience for this type of comic book.

Farscape was always about moving forward. Things were never static on the show and the status quo was constantly being upended. To do untold tales from the past would go against the grain, really.

THE PULSE: What's it like as a fan of Farscape to be working with its creator Rockne O'Bannon on the next stage of the story?

DECANDIDO:
Fantastic. I first met Rockne in New York in 2001 at the publication party Henson threw for my Farscape novel House of Cards, and we got along instantly. We've stayed in touch over the years, and getting to work with him at last has been a joy. He and I are frighteningly on the same wavelength (which should scare him more than me), and his vision of the show and the universe and the characters remains undimmed and enthusiastic. I couldn't ask for a better collaborator.

THE PULSE: What is it about the heroes of Farscape that you feel sets them apart from other sci-fi staples?

DECANDIDO:
Well, as I said before, these aren't typical heroes and villains. They're not cops, they're not military, they're not doctors, they're not scientists—well, Crichton is, but his knowledge is primitive by the standards of the place he's found himself in. These are ordinary people thrust into extraordinary circumstances, who have bonded out of necessity, and only later by compassion and love.

THE PULSE: When you're working on something that enjoyed a healthy life in television, do you hear the actors voices when you're scripting some of those characters in the comics?

DECANDIDO:
Absolutely—if you don't, you're doing it wrong. The most critical component of any tie-in fiction, whether comics or prose, is to get the character voices right. If you can't hear Ben Browder saying the dialogue, it shouldn't be in a word balloon pointing at John Crichton.

THE PULSE: Since you have a background of the characters in television, how does that color what you're doing in the comic book? I mean, do you find yourself thinking, "Oh Rygel did something like that already" or "This would be natural for Chiana to do" or anything like that, because you've watched these characters evolve and grow?

DECANDIDO:
It colors everything—it has to. Even if it doesn't color what I do, Rockne will notice if something's off-kilter.

THE PULSE: How do you think their lives in television have affected the way you regard the characters differently than if you just knew of these characters from books or comics? How does having that "human" actor, face and voice influence you?

DECANDIDO:
It affects word choices and sentence structure and any number of other things.

A few years ago, I taught a workshop in writing tie-ins specifically, and one of the exercises I gave to the students was to take the famous "Risk is our business!" speech that Captain Kirk gave on the original Star Trek, and had them rewrite it for the other four captains. That was very much a speech that played to the way William Shatner played the character, and the students who got it right altered the phraseology (but not the meaning) as appropriate for Patrick Stewart, Avery Brooks, Kate Mulgrew, and Scott Bakula.

That's critical to any successful tie-in work.

THE PULSE: What, if anything, does this comic have to do with the webisodes that are online? Are they related at all?

DECANDIDO:
Yes, they're related. Beyond that, I can't say—not because I don't know, but because Rockne would hunt me down and shoot me if I told….

THE PULSE: A lot of writers like the unlimited budget that comic books offer in terms of special effects or things you can do in the story, that might have been too expensive to do on film. How does it feel to have an almost limitless canvas to create upon?

DECANDIDO:
Well, the first story we're doing is one that couldn't possibly have been done on screen: Moya heads to Hyneria to help Rygel get his throne back, at last. The one episode where they had a second Hynerian on Moya was apparently a logistical nightmare, so doing an entire planet of animatronic creatures was simply not going to happen. But with that unlimited budget you mentioned, we were golden to do it.

So I'd say it feels pretty darn good!

THE PULSE: Of course those visuals are only as good as the artists bringing them to life, what do you think of the artists you're collaborating with on Farscape?


DECANDIDO:
Thus far, Tommy Patterson's work on the interiors has been excellent. I'm particularly pleased with how he rendered one particular page in the first issue, which conveyed exactly the emotions I was hoping for. (It's page 13, for any who are interested and want to check when #1 comes out.)

Joe Corroney and Dennis Calero are doing fine work on the covers as well. I've known Dennis for ages, going back to when he was an intern at Byron Preiss in the 1990s, and it's great to be working with him again, and having Joe do covers is a privilege, as I've always greatly admired his work.

THE PULSE: Which of the supporting cast of Farscape are your favorites to work with?

DECANDIDO:
Aeryn and Rygel. The former because she's the most complex and interesting character, the latter because he's so much fun to write. Rygel's the smartest person on Moya—by a lot—and he very rarely got to showcase that.

THE PULSE: What's the focus of this ongoing? Will we see a lot of done in one stories or will it be more serialized types of tales stretching out over several issues?

DECANDIDO:
Well, it's not an ongoing, it's a four-issue miniseries that we all hope will spawn a whole bunch more miniseries. But, as I said earlier, the focus of this storyline will be returning to Hyneria, where Rygel will find that dethroning his usurper cousin will be a great deal of work—and we all know how much Rygel hates work.

THE PULSE: Speaking of the future, what's coming up in the Farscape comic series?

DECANDIDO:
If all goes well, more miniseries. So people should buy several billion copies of the first miniseries…

THE PULSE: Outside of the established stories and characters in Farscape and the men and women who have brought those characters to life; what is influencing or inspiring your work in these pages the most?

DECANDIDO:
What, that's not enough?

Well, I can safely say that Rockne's story in particular is very inspiring. It's the perfect next story to tell in the Farscape mythos, and I'm flattered and honored to be the person who gets to work with him on it. The story is magnificent, and I hope I didn't screw it up too much with my dialogue…

THE PULSE: What other projects are you working on?

DECANDIDO:
Tons. I've got several Star Trek projects coming in 2009: a short story in the Mirror Universe: Shards and Shadows anthology in January; A Singular Destiny, the followup to David Mack's epic Destiny trilogy, in February; an Alien Spotlight comic book for IDW focusing on the Klingons, with art by JK Woodward, in April; a novella in the Seven Deadly Sins anthology that focuses on the Klingons (who represent wrath); and a novel for 2010 that I can't talk about yet.

I'm also working on a StarCraft manga series for TOKYOPOP called Ghost Academy that should debut in either late 2009 or early 2010, and I'm doing a StarCraft novel called Spectres, which is a sequel to my 2006 novel Nova.




The first issue of Farscape is in stores now.