Strange Planet Creator Nathan W. Pyle on the Influences of Dan Harmon and Star Trek

Nathan W. Pyle, whose 'Strange Planet' comic is now a series on Apple TV+, praises collaborator Dan Harmon for helping him realize a world inspired by a piece of conventional sci-fi wisdom.

The first three episodes of Strange Planet, an adult animated sitcom about a race of blue-skinned aliens whose unique brand of weird is just slightly different from our own, dropped on Apple TV+ yesterday, and series creator Nathan W. Pyle spoke with last week about the influences that came together to make the series a reality. There are always external and internal forces in the creation process, and this time around, Pyle singled out Star Trek's influence on the creation of the world -- where he has set a comic that launched in 2019. From the inside? Well, it's Dan Harmon. The Rick and Morty and Community boss not only embraced Pyle's work -- he even featured a t-shirt of Pyle's on Community years before they were collaborators -- but has been key to shaping the show's sensibilities, Pyle explains.

Much of the show's humor comes from finding the ways that the world of Strange Planet is both different from, and the same as, our own. Pyle says the inspiration for that originated with Gene Roddenberry.

"I think it was the creator of Star Trek who actually used the phrase 'strange planet' when describing humans, and I think that's one of the things that has always stuck out to me," Pyle told "We live on a strange planet; the creation of this show is about how we probably aren't the only ones. There are probably another set of beings out there. I'm sure you've seen the most recent pictures of deep space. There are so many galaxies, there are bound to be beings within that shot somewhere, and taht's just one little piece of the sky. So my idea is, certainly there's other beings out there. What if they wear socks and watch soccer games just like we do?"

There were some necessary changes that came with translating the comic to the screen; it's both less dialogue heavy and also has more action happening, just due to the nature of the medium. Still, Pyle said, it was easy to hone in on those changes with help from a visionary like Harmon.

"The density and the verbose nature of the writing in the comic obviously was going to change," Pyle said. "I can use a lot of Strange Planet terminology in the comic, whereas in the show we're tweaking that to make sure that the audience is tracking and can see what we're talking about. But then, creating depth to the characters, creating motivation for the characters, and creating conversations that reveal more about the characters, but also don't lose sight of the plot...that's the Dan Harmon school. I don't understand television as well as Dan Harmon does, obviously, and so it was fun for me to learn from Dan, who understands, 'here's my story circle. Here's where the character can start and where they can end.' That was an education for me, to learn from this encyclopedic knowledge of all TV and movies, and the enjoyment of all TV and movies, I think. That's what I've always loved about Dan's work: he loves TV, and the characters he makes often love TV. So it's like, TV is fun to make about TV."

Strange Planet airs on Apple TV+.