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DF Interview: Paul Cornell returns to a Saucer State
By Byron Brewer
Arcadia Alvarado was abducted by aliens. Now she's the President. She's going to use the power of that office to find out what really happened. But will they let her?
From creators Paul Cornell and Ryan Kelly, Saucer State is the sequel to and the conclusion of the Hugo Award-nominated Saucer Country. It's House of Cards does The X-Files. It's a bulletin from the brightest timeline. She will break the world to find who hurt her.
As issue #2 of this IDW series prepares to hit stores, DF talks with writer Paul Cornell to catch us up on the action!
Dynamic Forces: Paul, your new comic Saucer State is a sequel to the well-received and Hugo Award-nominated Saucer Country from Vertigo. Tell us a little about the previous comic please and what readers might need to know to hop on board this new IDW iteration.
Paul Cornell: New readers don’t need to know anything about the former series, because we provide all the information they need. Saucer State is about the new President of the USA, who thinks of herself as a having been the victim of an ‘alien abduction’. It’s about political intrigue and all the glorious detail of ‘real life’ UFO mythology.
DF: Introduce us please to Arcadia Alvarado and give us a little capsule summary of her relevant past.
Paul Cornell: Arcadia was the Governor of New Mexico, a state with a long history of both space science and UFO events. On the night before announcing her Presidential run, she and her annoying ex-husband, Michael, were taken from their car by… Arcadia doesn’t know who. She knows what happened was abuse. She seeks answers, and she hopes the office of President will allow her, and the tiny circle of close advisors she’s told, to get them.
DF: So, with issue #1 already in stores, what kind of ride are readers boarding as they delve into Saucer State?
Paul Cornell: The twist ending of #1 has revealed that now, suddenly, nobody doubts the existence of aliens, as NASA have picked up signals from an extraterrestrial ship at the edge of the solar system, heading for Earth. #2 has the media erupting, and the human race starting to panic, in all its different ways. In the middle of that, what does this concrete proof mean for someone who’s been immersed in the world of shadowy could-have-been aliens? Were those little grey bastards the scouting party, and is the business of anal probes and missing time about to become waking reality for everyone? Or was that all… something else? I think #2 is the single best comic I’ve ever been involved with, which is largely about the quality of the other creatives onboard.
DF: Will Arcadia being President (rather than her previous standing as Governor of New Mexico) help or hinder her activities? She now seems to have more eyes on her than ever, human and otherwise.
Paul Cornell: Absolutely she does. And the human race needs a professional, calm response to this new crisis, not the reactions of someone who’s suffered because of ‘aliens’. There’s a scene of Arcadia working out, in real time, a dozen things she has to do, and giving the orders in the correct sequence, that I’m especially proud of. ‘Competence porn’ someone called it. This is, after all, a bulletin from the brightest timeline. I wanted to remind readers of the good that professional politicians can do, the skills it takes to manage enormous crises.
DF: Will we still be seeing the political ramifications and subterfuge here (not as subtext but front and center) as well as the more bizarre elements that made its predecessor such a well-received treat?
Paul Cornell: Oh, absolutely. The joy of these two series is that we do politics and aliens at the same time.
DF: Who are some of the other characters readers should be on the look-out for? Will there be any new ones, and if so, can you tell us about them?
Paul Cornell: I’m continuing to enjoy my core cast. Michael, the perennial loser, is on a bit of a quest toward redemption now. Chloe, the Republican strategist who tells harsh truths, continues to be a favorite of mine, and will, to her horror, get involved in an actual gunfight in these two runs of six issues each. Orthon and the Silver Space Lady and all those amazing figures from ‘real’ UFO mythology will be back. I’ve introduced a new character, a political rival to Arcadia, who’ll emphasize the undercurrents we saw in the previous run, the ‘post truth’ brigade of untutored, alt right semi-politicians. It turns out we made some correct bets in that run, so our conclusion to the first half of this series will include, as always was planned, a visit to the Russians.
DF: Is it nice to continue this journey with co-creator Ryan Kelly? Tell us a little about Ryan’s contributions to this creation and your longtime collaboration with him.
Paul Cornell: He is so amazing, and undervalues his work so much. I can count on his acting to tell the story, so can use less words, in a series where there are often quite a lot of words. He’s very good at conveying the textures of the everyday world, so when the uncanny intrudes, it’s startling. The expressions of the characters during moments of extremis are frightening in themselves. Our colorist
this time out is Adam Guzowski, who does a great job in weird palate changes, and our letterer is Simon Bowland, who Ryan asked for. Plus, we’re all being edited by Tom Waltz. Hence that all-time peak of #2 I mentioned! We’re aiming, in these twelve issues, to answer every question and wrap up every plotline from both series.
DF: Paul, what other projects might you be able to tell readers about?
Paul Cornell: I’ve just had Chalk, my horror novel about bullying and the power of pop music, released from Tor.com, which was a project that took me twenty years to write, and the third of my Lychford novellas, magic and domestic comedy in a little Cotswolds town, is out in October.
Dynamic Forces would like to thank Paul Cornell for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. Saucer State #2 from IDW hits stores June 28th!
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VAMPIRELLA VOL. 4 #1 ATLAS COMICS SIGNATURE SERIES - SIGNED BY PHILIP TAN Written by Paul Cornell
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VAMPIRELLA VOL. 4 #1 Written by Paul Cornell
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VAMPIRELLA VOL. 4 #3 Written by Paul Cornell
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VAMPIRELLA #6 Written by Paul Cornell
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