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DF Interview: Joe Harris continues the conspiracies in X-Files: Season 11
By Byron Brewer
X-Files is returning to episodic TV, but that will not keep it from continuing in a medium it has been thriving in: comics! Not if writer Joe Harris and artist Matthew Dow Smith have anything to say about it.
On the heels of IDW’s Season 10, The X-Files pops back into existence with Season 11. In the book, Mulder has become a fugitive from a government that considers him a “secrets stealer” on the order of Julian Assange or Edward Snowden thanks to the mechanizations of The Glasses-Wearing Man. It's up to Scully, and what allies Mulder has left, to work to clear his name.
To learn more about what is, what isn’t and what might come to be, Dynamic Forces met with writer Harris … under cloak of secrecy, of course.
Dynamic Forces: Joe, you had an in-continuity ongoing in X-Files Season 10 before FOX's announcement of a new short-episode X-Files TV program. What are your feelings on that and how does that affect YOUR continuity, if at all?
Joe Harris: Well, it was fun being the only game in town for a while, right? The show's return will affect our comics continuity, and I'm excited about that just because how couldn't I be?
I'm grateful we've gotten to tell a long form X-Files story how we've wanted to, taking some creative and continuity-based risks and shooting for the moon. We've still got a lot of that story to tell yet. But there will be a convergence of sorts. That is to say, we're working on getting things together and doing what we can to play nicely in the sandbox.
DF: What is it about these characters, this property that has kept it a cult classic? What is its draw for you as a writer? Were you a fan?
Joe Harris: I think it's been the right mix of smart and sexy, with regard to the characters. The overarching “Mytharc” storyline about the aliens conspiracy and Mulder’s connection to the greatest lie ever told might be the best, long-running piece of genre thriller fiction in television history. Having been a fan from the beginning, I really keyed in once the conspiracy starting ramping up and Season 1 turned to 2, then 3-5 where it all sorta boiled over with the first movie and just dominated the mainstream.
As a writer, I’m drawn to the great canvas for telling thrillers, sci-fi stories and, of course, horror. But it really does come back to these archetypal, iconic characters. Mulder and Scully are just generationally ingrained in the American—and global—consciousness. That I meet so many young fans of the show, who clearly weren’t old enough to watch it when it was new but who interact with me on social media, show up at conventions in these fantastic displays of cosplay loyalty to the franchise and who absolutely adore the panoply of characters, memorable storylines and, to even just the slightest degree, appreciate what our contribution has been, however big or small — that inspires me. That keeps this all fresh and exciting for me.
DF: I understand with Season 11, Agent Mulder will be on the run from the government itself? Can you give us a few non-spoilery hints about this development?
Joe Harris: Well, he’s been setup by Gibson Praise. And we’ll learn that more has happened, between our creepy cliffhanger at the end of Season 10’s finale in Issue #25. Mulder is serving Gibson’s agenda now, which is cryptic and not even fully understood by him, but he’s doing so to prevent what he’s certain is an even worse situation from materializing. Plus, he thinks he’s protecting Scully. While Scully will stop at nothing to try and find Mulder, clear his name and bring him home. Good luck, Agents… we’ve got a few more stones of complication to turn over before this all resolves.
DF: I know gray areas and shadows are part of the franchise appeal, but will we be meeting any honest to goodness evil villains in Season 11, someone Mulder and Scully can dig their teeth into, so to speak?
Joe Harris: Well, we’re going to all cross paths with those delightfully, disgustingly creepy mutant family inbreds, the Peacocks, in issues #2-4. I almost can’t bring myself to even attempt to top that. And the alien menace will return with, I think, a neat twist that gets to the core of Gibson’s long game and ultimate plans.
DF: Aside from “Mulder: Fugitive,” what CAN you tell us about the Season 11 story line?
Joe Harris: It’s about reconnection and reaffirmation. Mulder and Scully will have to work their way back to one another and adapt to a 21st century paradigm that doesn’t leave much room for secrets anymore, but which presents new dangers at every turn.
DF: Will you be coordinating anything with FOX or working their TV reality into Season 11?
Joe Harris: We talk to FOX. I’ve talked with Chris Carter and know what they're up to in Vancouver at the moment. By the time The X-Files returns to television next year, we’ll be able to reveal some of what we’re doing to bring everything into convergence. That’s the plan anyway.
DF: Tell us about working with artist Matthew Dow Smith.
Joe Harris: I love Matt’s work on this book. I feel like he gets the cinematic way I’m trying to tell these stories, and we roll it all out shot by shot, beat by beat. It’s hard to approximate the feel of a television show—the way time passes, the amount of information you can pack into a 20 page comic book will never equal what you get in a five act episode — but we do our best and make it our own thing in the process. And Matt lays down such lovely lines for Jordie Bellaire to fill with color. I’m very proud of this core team we have. When I script a moment… a page… a bit… that I just know in my gut is a winner that’s going to help the issue stand out, I’m immediately confident and excited about what I know Matt and Jordie will do with it. They also make me look better in those moments I might not be as confident in, and the best part is nobody else really knows the difference!
DF: There are always certain subtle things to keep an eye on in X-Files. What should readers keep their eyes on this season?
Joe Harris: I’d say pay attention to Gibson Praise’s actions and machinations. He’s running multiple conspiracies inside his alien-addled genius brain alone.
Dynamic Forces would like to thank Joe Harris for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. X-Files: Season 11 #1 hits stores in August!
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