Declassified: Talking The X-Files #1 With Writer Joe Harris

This week saw the relaunch of IDW Publishing's The X-Files.Following on the heels of the [...]


This week saw the relaunch of IDW Publishing's The X-Files.

Following on the heels of the hugely-successful and critically-beloved The X-Files Season Ten and The X-Files Season Eleven, the franchise is being reinvented in the wake of the TV series -- which has thrown a bit of a wrench intot he plans.

Part of the comics' original pitch was that they were "canon," that the events taking place in Season Ten and beyond would "count" in the world of the then-defunct TV series on which they were based.

When the TV series came back, it went in a somewhat different direction with the characters, and it meant that when Season Eleven ended, it made more sense for writer Joe Harris and artist Matthew Dow Smith to relaunch.

Of course, this time -- without the "season" structure to be bound to -- the series is an ongoing, giving it potentially a little more stability for long-term planning.

Harris joined for the first in a series of "commentary track"-style interviews looking at the relaunched The X-Files.

Please note that this interview contains spoilers. If you haven't read The X-Files #1 yet, get a copy at your local comic shop or buy it digitally and read along with us.

Okay, so first thing's first: how is your approach different taking it on as an ongoing, and as something that isn't starting out as TV canon? That's a lot of change for somebody who's writing the same characters as before...

The hardest part, I guess, is having to disregard the events we've covered over the past 3+ years in the "Season 10" and "Season 11" comics series. A lot happened, and plenty of that resonated through the characters and was set to resonate further into future stories and arcs. But my love for this franchise is pretty objective, and I do indeed love and respect the source material, so this has been a fairly ego-less exercise. I hope. I think...?

And just to bring people up to speed, how will the Season Ten/Season Eleven comics inform stories in this series?

The short answer is they don't, at least not in terms of developments and circumstances. But I'd like to think longtime readers of my X-Files comics will see plenty that's familiar in terms of scale and theme, execution and all that.

It's still Matt, Jordie and I turning out X-Files comics every month. And Mulder and Scully aren't that different at all, at their core.

The first issue opens with a mass shooting. It's easy to slip into politics there, but is it more about just responding to headlines, which is something the X-Files have often done?

Um, well, yes and no... I mean, believe it or not, I don't want to be overly political here but you can't help but wade into such when you tackle a subject like gun violence. This won't be the last time we respond to headlines in this series, and there will be departures from the expected tone you might expect of such a story, as well as just the sort of POV I'd like to think responsible, thoughtful people would expect paragons of justice like Agents Mulder and Scully to hold.

Obviously, either way, you do have a bit of commentary, mostly from Mulder.

Mulder has a big mouth.

You also get something in this issue that was played with quite a bit in the recent TV miniseries, which is Dana's relationship with children and her unresolved feelings about William. Will you be treading some of the same thematic ground in the comics that the TV show is?

I intend to, as we're able to without getting ahead of future plans for the show itself. Clearly, Dana Scully is affected by having given her son up for adoption. It would be wrong to not go there sometimes, if not often.

But it's a balancing act, you know? We don't want to hit that note too often if we're not able to compose a melody off it, so we're going to be careful. We're going to pick our spots and let the show's return inform the comics while striving to do our own thing that's a satisfying experience all its own while we await news of another return to action on TV front.

What's the balance you're going to do in terms of stand-alone stories versus mytharc stories? Obviously the success of the trade paperbacks means you're probably not going to have much of either that resolves in a single month.

I have had a seriously hard time with single issue attempts to tell a satisfying X-Files story. Our opening, extra-sized "Active Shooter" story notwithstanding, the ordinarily available twenty pages is just not a lot of space to really get the full effect you hope for. That said, two-part stories work quite a bit better when you think about how you can end part one with a cliffhanger that potentially opens the story up in a new direction and allows more of those expected X-Files-y notes to be hit in the telling.

So after issue #1, we're going to tackle a couple of two-part "Monster of the Month" stories which will lead up to a four-part Mytharc storyline kicking off in issue #6 that will pick up on some of the mysteries left from "Active Shooter," and focus this series on a long range mission statement that, I hope, both plays well with whatever comes next on the television landscape as well as stands solidly on its own merits.

What can you tease us about the second issue?

It's part one of another story rooted in recent events, concerning people entering this country illegally from Mexico and involves folklore surrounding the infamous Dia de los Muertos, the so-called "Day of the Dead."

I love the fact that you're going to have a letter column. Will you have J. Edgar Hoover answering the letters in character, or was that note from the director just a one-off?

Honestly, I didn't even know about Hoover's involvement. I hope he sticks around!