"We are not alone." That phrase will fill alien abductees with a terrible sense of dread, but it might also fill them with some relief if it also means there are others out there with the same problem. Such is the premise of XENOHOLICS, a twisted dark comedy title coming soon from Image. It's writer/co-creator, Joshua Williamson, has been building an impressive body of work lately on every end of the spectrum between adventurous graphic novels like MIRROR, MIRROR, charming video game adaptations like UNCHARTED and all-fun all-ages books like DEAR DRACULA and the forthcoming SKETCH MONSTERS. If you're a fan of CHEW or anything related to "UFOlogy," I can say that you're going to have a hell of time with this wickedly-fun, darkly-comedic road trip into one of America's strangest sub-cultures.
Without further ado, let's get talking to the man behind the madness...
COMIC VINE: Josh, since XENOHOLICS is about a support group for survivors of alien abductions (an AA for ETs, as it were,) I want you to first know that you're among friends. Then, I'd like you tell all your friends here what your name is, where you've come from and how you first got involved in "UFOlogy."
JOSHUA WILLIAMSON: The name is Joshua Williamson, I come from a small hot and smoggy town called Riverside, California. Grew up in the Southern California area until I moved to the rainy and awesome Portland, Oregon 3 and half years ago. Comic Vine readers probably know me best from the SUPERMAN/BATMAN I wrote last year staring Damian and Supergirl.
My first interest in aliens and UFOs started when I was a kid. That there could be something bigger out in space and that they could be here spying on us was very mysterious and interesting to me. I was always somewhat of a sci-fi nut, but I think I was at the right age when X-FILES started that I became a bit like Mulder for a bit... obsessed with aliens. When I was in high school I even went to the anniversary of the Roswell crash and took a look, from afar, at Area 51.
Since then I've always wanted to do a book about aliens and how people react to the idea of them. Believers and non-believers. The general public looks at the believers like freaks, but to me believing in aliens is no different then believing in any other religion.
CV: Unless we're talking about Heaven's Gate. Ha ha.
Now, say I'm a "non-believer" in XENOHOLICS.
What would you say to "convert" me to the book?
JW: Well, actually, lots of people have been convinced to kill themselves in mass hoping to get to Heaven... no different than a space ship inside a comet. Just saying...
For you "non-believers" if you're looking for a book with some dark humor and a bit of fun, XENOHOLICS is for you. I really wanted to create something that was weird, and kind of out there, but still grounded in reality. That being said it might seem slow at first, but it's building to a much bigger story. I mean shit... (spoiler alert!) half the characters will be dead by issue five.
It's far from anything by the big two, really, which was my goal, to do something that was nothing like what they were publishing. That being said there is more to it then just aliens... it's about the people in the book and how no one believes them. I'm sure people can relate to that.
CV: Now that we know a specter of doom's hanging over half of the characters, how about you introduce us to some of them so feel that much worse when they bite it?
JW: It's a large ensemble cast, but for the most part the main two characters are Bob and Kyle. Bob is sort of the eyes of the reader. He recently just joined the group and this world of people who believe they were abducted.
He's an nice guy, ex-cop, who has a hard time with what has happened to him and just wants answers.
Then there is a Kyle, who is a bit of mystery when issue one opens. He's sort of a sleazy, smart ass, who doesn't really take the group seriously. You learn what he is really up to and why he is part of the group in issue one.
One of the things about the book is that each issue sort of spot lights one of the characters and their abduction back story. What happened to them and how they are dealing with it.
There is Ginger Glory, the wannabe pop-star who claims that little green men have been taking her for years. There is Mavin "the Invasion" Roberts, a MMA fighter who was taken the night before a big fight and the aliens told him how to win. Garfield or Junior is a Afganistan war vet who believes he was abducted while serving. Then there is Paige, a sweet house man who believesthat the only aliens to worry about are the Invasion of the Body Snatchers kind called "Snatchers." All of them are lead by Professor Campbell, a doctor who is just trying to help them deal with their abductions and in some cases... addictions.
But one of the things I want to push is that some OR ALL of them might be lying about being taken by aliens... actually not all... at least one of them is telling the truth.
CV: Saying you're alien abductee does make you more interesting at a party.
Seeing as how one of the big surprises of issue #1 concerns a different kind of "invasion," I'm curious as to whether any of the inspiration for this comes from some direct immersion you had in these circles. Did you ever swim into the deep end of UFOlogy, or was it all research?
JW: This book has been in development for a long time, so over the years I spoke with different people who believed they had been abducted. I even sat in on a few groups and saw what people were dealing with. It's hard to sit there and listen to the stories without believing in them a little bit.
And the big thing is this... the best kind of research is life experience, so...
One of my closest friends believes that he is a reincarnated alien from another planet. He strongly believes this that it was spiritual jump from outer space. He also believes that earth has been visited for thousands of years manipulated us, missing link, Egyptians, all that.
He says that he runs into other aliens all the time. It's interesting stuff. Talking with him about the story and plans for the book has helped take it to another level that I couldn't have gotten from just reading books.
CV: Whoa. How's he taking to the book's send-up of UFO culture?
JW: He loves it, but he is also aware of the book's larger story.
Even though the book has dark humor and does poke fun, it's still respectful.
CV: Talking about the art, now - - when and how was your deadly alliance with Mr. Damoose forged? Did he go to one of these group sessions, too?
JW: Seth is great. His art has so much energy. We started talking at C2E2 in 2010, I really wanted to work with him and made it known. At C2E2 we got to sit down for a bit and talk about comics, what we were both doing and thinking about working on in the future. We both started talking about THE X-FILES and doing a weird alien book. At the time I was thinking Seth would want to do an all ages book or something a bit more along the lines of DEAR DRACULA, but no, the more we talked I could tell he wanted to do something a bit darker.
After C2E2, we started going back and forth over story ideas and characters until we developed XENOHOLICS. It was already an idea I had been working on for years, but Seth brought ideas to the table that made me change things around. Especially when it came to the characters personalities. He'd draw a face, or pose that would change a whole scene.
And if you're a fan of Seth's I think it's clear that he is doing the best work for his career with XENOHOLICS. Some of the pages are going to blow people away. Seth combined with our colorist Paul Little have been turning out some amazing pages.
To answer your question... no I didn't drag Seth to any group sessions.
CV: Man, I was at that C2E2! Totally unaware of the tag team being formed there.
You mention X-FILES and the first issue has references to INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS. The characters are all actually quite aware of the pop cultural pantheon of extra-terrestrials, from cute and cuddly visitors like Alf to terrifying invaders like the Predator.
If you had to get abducted by one kind of alien over another, which would it be?
JW: Yeah, like I said, I wanted it to be grounded in reality and of course if they've been abducted, the topic of other movies comes up. I look at it like the first SCREAM movie. They were well aware of all the stuff that came before and tried to work around it. Our characters do the same.
Hmmm... what kind of alien would I want to be abducted by... probably the aliens from CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND. At least then I'd get to hang out with Richard Dreyfuss in space.
CV: Those aliens have music in their souls.
Now, let's cap this interview off with some when's and how's.
When is XENOHOLICS coming out, how many issues will it be and, most importantly, how can these Comic Vine maniacs get a hold of it?
JW: XENOHOLICS #1 is coming out October 19th. It's an ongoing series with a for sure plan to go to issue 20. That is if sales are strong enough. It will be four 5 issue story arcs. The best way to get a hold of it is to go into your local comic shop and let them know you want to pre-order a copy (Diamond Code AUG11 0412.)
A lot of comic shops won't take a chance on a new book unless a customer tells them to order one.
Image has been comparing it to CHEW a bit, and I’d say that’s fair. If you are a fan of CHEW you should check this book out.
Really if you want to read a fun, dark humor book about aliens and the people who believe they were abducted, give it a try.