When the Martians in IDW Publishing's "The Colonized" introduce new technology to Earth, they also infect the planet with a zombie plague which promptly threatens to destroy both humans and Martians alike.
A four-issue miniseries, "The Colonized" debuts this April from writer Chris Ryall and artist Drew Moss, featuring covers by "Cerebus" creator Dave Sim. Ryall, in addition to being Editor-in-Chief of IDW, is the author of comics like "Zombies vs. Robots" and "KISS Solo."
Ryall spoke with Comic Book Resources about "The Colonized," revealing his inspiration for the story, the importance of creator-owned comics to the future of IDW and why this book is a completely different beast than "Zombies vs. Robots."
CBR News: What's the basic premise of "The Colonized?"
Chris Ryall: In its simplest terms, it's like Dave Sim emblazoned on his covers -- "Zombies Versus Aliens." But it's more than that, really. I was trying to do something different here, not just another snarky "Versus" book. It's set in a separatist camp and features two very different groups of outsiders who both find themselves beset by zombies. I don't know that it exactly fits into "sci-fi" or "horror" or even "action-adventure," but it's definitely got elements of all of those.
I know it appears, since I've done "Groom Lake" with aliens and "Zombies vs. Robots" with, well, zombies and robots, that this was me just mashing a couple of my separate interests together in a similar way. But it actually came about after I'd been reading a lot about the various groups that try to strike out on their own: Militia, as well as zero-footprint communities, all these groups that aren't happy with the status quo and seek very different means to re-establish communities outside of "normal" society. This got me thinking about introducing aliens into the mix, since they would be the ultimate outsiders in such a scenario. And one of the first scenes that hit me was the way the aliens accidentally create zombies. I loved the idea of aliens using the typical tractor beam to draw humans up to their ship, but that beam actually re-animating the dead so the thing they draw into their ship isn't a scared human, it's teeth-gnashing, exhumed zombies. Things spun out from there.
As you yourself said, you've already done "Zombies vs. Robots," so why the need for Zombies vs. Aliens? Is there anything more to be said with the Zombie genre at this point?
Well, sure there is. Just like with anything, it's all in the telling. I was, frankly, very sick of Batman before Scott Snyder came along and told stories that felt new and different. It's the same with vampires or superheroes or funny animals -- if the story is told from an interesting angle, it merits being told. That's what I'm trying to do here. Like I say, I wasn't interested in just doing another smart-ass "versus" kind of thing since I've done that. I was trying to do something creepier and different in tone; something that contains shades of old ‘50s sci-fi movies and old horror films and a kind of Wally Wood aesthetic with the look of the aliens. Anyone looking for something similar to "ZvR" will likely not find that here, but I'm really having fun with it, hopefully "fun" stays consistent in anything I do.
One of the main characters is pushing for a "green" community at the beginning of the story. Are the concepts of sustainable energy and environmental protection major themes of the book?
That came about me playing with the idea of militiamen living in a township in the wilds of Montana. I didn't want to just make the community stereotypical gun nuts or paranoids, racists or the other generalizations of militia types. So I played with the idea that, yes, the guys who founded this community were more paranoid, anti-government types, but their kids have moved things closer to a zero-sustainability sort of community. They have a shared distrust of the government, but beyond that, they're very different. Mostly, I wanted to set the scene in a town where, no matter if aliens invade or zombies attack, they're not going to call the government for help. They're going to go it alone (so they think -- they've actually been infiltrated by a lone ATF agent).
How did Dave Sim get involved and will his covers grace every issue of the series?
Yep, Dave's doing covers for all four -- he's done three so far -- and I'm still amazed by that fact. The covers are a blast. They really nail the vibe I wanted, but more than that, it's still hard for me to wrap my head around the idea that the guy who did 300 issues of "Cerebus" is doing covers for this little book. I love that Dave Sim is doing covers for us, whether for this series or the other things he's been doing (like "Judge Dredd" or "Doctor Who").
As an added bonus on "The Colonized," I've got some great variant covers, too -- John Byrne, Zach Howard, Gabriel Rodriguez and Sam Kieth. Add to that the utterly perfect interiors for this series by Drew Moss and Jay Fotos -- I still can't get enough of Drew's alien design and how perfectly it fits what I wanted this to be -- and I'm very happy with all of this. Hopefully people who check it out feel the same way.
Do you see "The Colonized" as a stand-alone, one-and-done miniseries, or is this the beginning of a new franchise for IDW?
It's definitely a finite series, told in four issues, but as I was working on the third issue, I had a great idea for where this series could go next if that were in the cards. But right now, I'm just focusing on trying to make this mini the best stand-alone series it can be.
How important do you consider creator-owned series like "The Colonized" to the future of IDW Publishing?
They're definitely a big part of what we do. It's easy for them to be overshadowed by the more attention-getting licensed properties, or big things like the "Artist's Editions" or "Library of American Comics" books, but we love giving creators voices to do their own thing and really have some good books along those lines coming in '13. From "Jinnrise" to "Fever Ridge" to "Kill Shakespeare 2," "Half Past Danger" and "Wild Blue Yonder" this year -- and that only scratches the surface of these titles for the first half of '13 -- we remain committed to trying new things and being a good outlet for creator-owned works.
What other projects do you having coming up?
Sam Kieth and I are working on something (licensed this time) to follow up our just-concluding mini "The Hollows." I'm doing two "KISS Solo" issues now and then something special that's KISS-related for later this year. And a couple other things beyond those that I can't quite talk about yet. That's all extracurricular. I'm also really happy to be bringing back "The X-Files" and "T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents" this year, and a good array of other things we'll be announcing at WonderCon and beyond. Gonna be a good year!
"The Colonized," by Chris Ryall and Drew Moss with covers by Dave Sim, is out April 17th from IDW Publishing.