EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: STARGATE Writer Joseph Mallozzi Discusses His Debut Comic DARK MATTER
Published: January 2, 2012 - 10:34am
Writer and executive producer of Stargate's television universe Joseph Mallozzi talks about his inspiration, changing process, and small-screen adaption plans for his space-thriller comic book debut with co-writer Paul Mullie and artist Gary Brown.
A derelict ship floats in space, its troubled crew awakened from stasis with no memories of who they are or how they got on board. Their search for answers triggers the vessel's deadly security system: a relentless android bent on their destruction. Facing threats at every turn, they have to work together to survive a voyage charged with vengeance, redemption, betrayals, and hidden secrets best left unknown.
Joseph Mallozzi has been a part of the sci-fi entertainment genre for over a decade. Some of his most notable work includes acting as a writer and executive producer for such television series as Stargate SG-1 and Stargate: Atlantis. Reading his blog, one will find a love for another medium of storytelling: “I've always admired the comic book genre's ability to tell engaging, continually evolving, visually enticing stories. In that respect, a comic book is no different than a great television series, the creator-driven titles the equivalent to some of the best shows on cable. I derive as much enjoyment from every issue of Jason Aaron's 'Scalped' and Robert Kirkman's 'The Walking Dead' than I do each episode of 'Breaking Bad.'”
Although he's loved his time in television, he feels that the creative draw of penning a unique and independent comic story is profound, “When you're writing for television, you're working within pre-established parameters. You're certainly able to make the occasional bold creative statement but, more often than not, they're not your toys so you're expected to put them back where they belong once you're done. In the case of creator-driven comic books, however, you have the freedom to tell the story you want without limitations. It's incredibly rewarding.
“DARK MATTER was originally envisioned as a television series and, hopefully, will eventually become one. Because of the amount of time I spent developing the project, I was able to build a fairly rich narrative in terms of characters, story, setting, and overall arcs,” he explained about his upcoming debut series. “As a result, I know exactly where the series is going, where each character is headed, and, yes, even how it all ends. A narrative this detailed is perfectly suited to the comic book medium because it doesn't establish limits on the story the way that film or television production can (ie. time and budgetary constraints).”
His comparison of television and print mediums doesn't end there, and Mallozzi even says that the challenge of writing in comic book form is even more demanding than a TV series script. “Comic scriptwriting is not that far removed from writing for film and television but the differences, though sleight, can be frustrating for a first-timer like myself. My television scripts tend to be sparse in terms of shot directions and description, but comic book scripts demand a certain amount of detail to help the artist visualize the scenes described. That was a challenge, as was the necessity to imagine the story in panels and pages rather than scenes and acts. By the time I completed the fourth issue of the four-part opening arc, I was in a groove.”
The solicitation material from Dark Horse compares DARK MATTER to classic sci-fi works like "Aliens, Stargate, and 2001: A Space Odyssey." On the matter of using those films to describe his comic, he revealed that they actually weren't used as an inspirational basis, “ I greatly admired all of three of the aforementioned (and many other SF film and t.v. shows) and am sure they influenced me on that subconscious level, but the obvious inspiration for Dark Matter came from five different sources: three non-genre films, a SF television series, and, appropriately enough, a comic book. I'd be happy to elaborate, but only after issue #2 comes out.” Comparisons aside, Mallozzi describes what makes his comic unique are the differences from other science fiction stories, “I feel the tone of the series, its characters, and its over-arcing premise -- that will only become clear a little further down the line -- make Dark Matter quite distinct from other contemporary SF.”
While DARK MATTER is now listed as a four-issue limited series, that doesn't mean that's where it will end. “The opening arc, first four issues, tell a self-contained story - but that arc will only be the first step on a much longer journey. We'll be answering one of the biggest questions early on but, we'll quickly learn, answers only beget more questions. The plan is to kick things off with the four-issue arc and use that as a springboard to a television series (or mini-series),” he explained of his multi-tiered agenda for the property. “We've had initial talks with some interested parties and plan to start pitching the show in January. I have the overall series trajectory and individual character arcs mapped out in detail and know exactly where we're going and how all the pieces will line up. Ideally, I would like to continue the comic book alongside the t.v. incarnation and be afforded the opportunity to tell the story in its entirety.”