With the double-sized Issue #25 finale of our THE X-FILES: SEASON 10 series dropping today, I was looking through some of the early materials I’d worked up to launch the series back in 2013.
It seems a little hazy to recall, with all the news of THE X-FILES limited run return to television this January, but as the 20th Anniversary of the show loomed back then, there wasn’t really much going on. The second film had come and gone years before, and the comics offerings from previous publishers had been sporadic (and outside continuity) before we would attempt to fill a very big void.
I was first asked if I “…had any interest in The X-Files at all?” by IDW Editor-in-chief, Chris Ryall after the publisher had finalized the deal to bring the franchise back in comics form. We didn’t have anything to go on at this point, but I knew we had to reestablish the characters and concept, and take it back to something core and easily recognizable… while also acknowledging the passage of time, the events that came before… as well as refreshing the mission statement for this new age where everything is, on the one hand, so transparent while, on the other, feels like so much more is conspiring against us than ever before.
I had a lot of ideas for where to go with this and quickly banged out a fairly rough take for what I wanted to do, presented here in its (mostly) unedited frenzied state.
*Note: this original outline deviates pretty significantly from the first issue of the comics series, the initial story arc, and (most notably) the inclusion and identity of the new, big bad foil that Mulder and Scully would deal with after being out of action for almost a decade.
If you’re curious, you can check out the (mostly) unedited pitch/working outline I’m talking about here:
I would be steered in a new direction on this series soon enough, however…
Things moved quickly from there as the plan was to release this book for the summer and the clock was ticking. IDW thought I was on the right path, and FOX agreed. But a third, highly important party, had not yet weighed in…
X-FILES creator Chris Carter’s involvement in the comics wasn’t set from the beginning. And when FOX first brought him into the process, we were as frightened as we were thrilled. I’d been given no real boundaries by the publisher or studio with regard to what I could or couldn’t do. The document linked above was never thought to be ‘final’ — rather, it was a living outline I wrote very quickly and informally. I only sought to build on loose threads and the events that came before, and I had no idea how Chris would react to what we were planning.
But Chris was incredibly complimentary, and supportive. He offered to throw his name behind the comics as our “Executive Producer” while tweaking my story to remove a certain (now grown) baby’s role. He’d actually quite liked my inclusion of William and mentioned similar ideas he’d had, but ultimately begged me away from this direction pointing out how important Dana Scully’s child was to fans. His point was clear and taken (and I’d, alternately, started laying seeds to make alien-tinged chess genius Gibson Praise the book’s ultimate foil–which I’m very proud of and excited about–and who’d finally be revealed after years of teasing in our current running, final series arc, “Elders”).
With Chris’ blessing, the series was rechristened as THE X-FILES: SEASON 10. Fantastic Toronto-based artist Michael Walsh was hired to draw the book and colorist extraordinaire (and big X-Files fan) Jordie Bellaire came onboard to color the series. With a plethora of covers from wonderful artists like Carlos Valenzuela, Menton3, Francesco Francavilla, Joe Corroney and others, we were set to announce this beast.
Fan reaction to the announcement that THE X-FILES was returning as an ongoing comics series was pretty damn huge. The groundswell of support was obvious and strong, and any doubts that the franchise’s return would be less than eagerly anticipated were put to rest.
After Issue #1 of the series was solicited to launch in June of that year, I’d hear from comics retailers that people who’d never been inside a comics shop had been letting them know how excited they were. I was getting peppered with social media questions from every direction by very rabid fans. And though FOX, IDW and, most important, Chris Carter had all offered tremendous votes of confidence, I’ll be honest with you.. I was a nervous wreck about it all.
But the book was very well-received, both by the fans and critics, and things got (mostly) easier from there on. We’d go on to ‘bring back’ fan favorite characters and monsters (with justifications and explanations) such as the Cigarette Smoking Man, the Lone Gunmen, Flukeman, the Black Oil, the Syndicate and even Alex Krycek. We’d stake out new territory with original “Monster of the Month” issues like “Chitter” in Issue #9. And, with the later addition of main series artist Matthew Dow Smith, set to making Gibson Praise the biggest, well-intentioned but supremely dangerous super-villain we could.
You can check out a full PDF of my script for THE X-FILES: SEASON 10 #1 here:
The first draft of this script was actually written before Chris Carter’s involvement, so ramifications and motivations were altered a bit to reflect his input.
*I’ve previously sold versions of this document with potential ‘spoilers’ redacted. Those have been removed in this edition. You can still see that much changes over the course of comics production and even a ‘final’ script will deviate from the printed issues as changes get made through the process.
A few weeks after release, we all rolled into Comic Con in San Diego where Chris and Gillian Anderson agreed to take part in a panel to discuss the comics, along with myself, IDW EIC Chris Ryall, Editor Denton Tipton and moderator Dean Haglund.
And a good time was had by all…
This post has already rambled on for a lot longer than I originally intended and I’ve got comics to get back to writing…
But before I go, I just wanted to thank Chris, FOX, IDW, my myriad talented collaborators who make me look better than I could possibly ever aspire to alone, and the best fanbase in the world for the support, the feedback, and the patience.
We work hard on these books, we know what the stakes are, we accept the dangers, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
We’ll be back with THE X-FILES: SEASON 11 #1 in August… then watching together, with you, as THE X-FILES returns to television in 2016 and helps bring us even further in line with the canon, the continuity and the future.