So when you think horror, do you think sci-fi? Sure, maybe you remember that "Star Trek" episode where hippies took over the ship, but that's not the kind of sci-fi horror book announced by Image Comics today at the Comic-Con International in San Diego. The venerable comic book company gave fans a taste of Rick Remender and Tony Moore's 2005 debuting series "Fear Agent" and the scribe explained things further when he sat down with CBR News earlier this week.
"'Fear Agent' follows the high adventures of Heath Huston-Alien Exterminator," Remender told CBR News earlier this week. "After being called in to clean up a space station with an infestation of 'Feeder' aliens, Heath finds himself caught in the middle of an inter-galactic civil war and Earth's fate in his hands (it's less trite than it sounds). The adventures will combine esthetic elements from all three of the genre's that made EC comics the high water mark of sequential storytelling, science fiction, war, and horror as well as an infusion of 'Tank Girl'-inspired madness and a pinch of 'Indiana Jones'-style adventure. It's a hard boiled, Monster Mash, Crime-Fi book. If you're looking for stories about space exploration or trade federations you've got the wrong Sci-Fi.
"I don't want to give much away so I'll just touch on the back story a bit. Fifteen years before our story, Earth had the distinct inconvenience of being trapped in the middle of a power struggle between the three most powerful empires in the universe. During this time all three empires attacked and fought for domination of Earth for its strategic position. Over 80% of the indigenous life on Earth was wiped out in the initial wave of attacks and very few humans survived. Those that did survive were over looked by the warring forces as an inconsequential element in the battle for the planet. Our man, Heath, and a few thousand other Texans, formed the battalion known as The Fear Agents. Compiling an arsenal of advancement from all three alien technologies, the Fear Agents were able to drive out the invaders. The Fear Agents became legend throughout the universe. They stood as an inspiration and hope that anyone could accomplish anything-against any odds. Heath Huston is the last Fear Agent."
The project is definitely different than what you might expect from a sci-fi or horror book and Remender says that the ideas came to him in a very special moment. "The idea came when I was ranting to a friend that science fiction has mostly sucked since the 1950's. There aren't any contemporary guys like Wally Wood or Frank Frazetta to show us how bare bone, down and gritty science fiction stuff should be done. The genre needs to be redefined and it needs an infusion of new life. So Tony [Moore, artist on the series] and I are going to push it forward by drawing from it's past. We both have a love for the genre and have high hopes of redefining it.
"Tony Moore and I had recently pitched DC a Lobo mini and he'd emailed me a sci-fi/monster cover he'd done for one of Rob Zombie's new books that was so amazing. I knew he'd be into a hardcore EC style monster/sci-fi book. So I wrote myself a note to call Tony with this new idea and I proceeded to forget about it as Tony was knee deep in zombie pages for 'The Walking Dead.' So when he called me two weeks later and asked if I had any ideas for a new book... I did.
"From there I wrote out the first issue and a treatment for the rest of the series and Tony designed the main character, Heath. We sent it off to Erik Larsen at Image and I think he okayed the book the next day. Erik was very helpful in further developing the book with us - he's a very hands on publisher and it's great to have someone who cares about the project in charge. Erik and Robert Kirkman both played a big role in getting the project up and running (and helping us settle on the final name)."
Like Moore's previous series, "The Walking Dead," you don't need to be a horror fan (or in this case a sci-fi fan) to enjoy "Fear Agents." "If you like comics like, 'The Preacher,' 'Tank Girl,' or 'The Walking Dead'-- we own you," laughs the writer. "If you like EC comics, Wally Wood, Frank Frazetta or Bernie Wrightson-- you are ours. If dig 'Indiana Jones,' 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,' and 'Aliens'-- you have no choice but to bow down to 'Fear Agent' as your next favorite comic. Okay, I guess you have some choice, but very little."
Moore isn't simply an artist on this project- Remender is quick to stress that they are equal parts of the creative process and when recounting how the two got together, it's obvious that the writer sees Moore as a kindred creative soul. "The first time I saw Tony's work was in an issue of Kieron Dwyer's book 'LCD' that we both worked on. I remember looking at the pages and wondering how this guy had slipped past without being noticed by the industry. Then I found out he was like twelve years old or some shit and I slit my wrists. Too much big time American party talent in that kid. He makes me so angry I could... sorry, well anyway we became buddies shortly after we met at the San Diego CCI in 2000. We've been talking about doing a book together since Tony drew my character Black Heart Billy in an issue of Battle Pope and it was better than Kieron or I had done."
Fans were also surprised by the increased beauty of Moore's pencils, something accomplished by Remender's inking. "I had a blast inking the promo stuff. Tony is drawing from Frank Frazzetta and I'm using my brush like Bernie Wrightson. I think the result is solid. I'm pretty well done with inking but couldn't turn down throwing some Higgins black magic on Tony's pencils. I think the art will be everything people expect from Tony at this point. We have yet to chose our colorist but rest assured we'll be cooking your burger with grade A beef."
Some writers are loathe to see artists tweak their script, but Remender's confidence in Moore is absolute and he allows the artist some freedom. "I'm writing pretty full scripts for the book, but I trust Tony to tweak or change what he feels the need to. I think being flexible on this side of the job necessary to achieve a great book. As a penciler myself I know the value of being able to shift and tweak the pages. I'd never subject any artist I work with to a script so tight that the pacing can't be mixed up by the artist."
Can't wait to check out the series? Well, Remender leaves you with all the juicy details. "The series is ongoing, full color, 24 pages per issue, monthly and we hope to launch in the early part of 2005. Come get a big ass exclusive Fear Agent poster from us at booth 2400 in San Diego. Thanks!"
CBR Executive Producer Jonah Weiland contributed to this story.