The threat of an alien invasion may be looming over the characters in Saucer Country, but for the creative team behind the sci-fi comic, there are greater threats.
Top among those threats is the announcement made by DC Comics last week that Vertigo would end Saucer Country's run in April with issue #14. That means ongoing writer Paul Cornell and artist Ryan Kelly are having to cut short their intended story.
Cornell and Kelly launched the series last year, telling the story of Arcadia Alvarado, a Mexican-American governor of New Mexico who is abducted by aliens on the eve of her announcement that she's running for president of the U.S.At the time of the comic's launch, Cornell was writing Demon Knights for DC and had also launched Stormwatch. But he's since stopped writing any comics for DC, and in November announced that he would be launching a new Wolverine title in March for Marvel.
This week, readers can pick up Saucer Country #11, a creative one-shot issue featuring art by Mirko Colak. Then the series enters a storyline titled "President's Day" that is solicited as a build-up to the election.
But issue #14 will be the end of the series. Does that mean we'll never find out why the presidential candidate was abducted? And will we ever find out if she became president? Newsarama asked...
Newsarama: Paul, now that we've heard the news about the future of Saucer Country, are you getting the chance to wrap things up by the last issue in April? Will it be a finished story?Paul Cornell: It won't provide an ending to the whole comic, but it will be a nice "end of volume" point, the last arc being set on election night, and with one enormous question about what's going on getting a concrete answer. But you won't find out what really happened to Arcadia and Michael on the night of their abduction. When we were told we were going to be cancelled with #14, Ryan had already nearly finished drawing #12, so I had to decide whether or not I could finish the whole story, using that issue as a starting point, in 40 pages. I decided readers would probably prefer a satisfying chapter end rather than what would basically be just a list of plot points.
Nrama: Now that we're drawing closer to the election, what's the focus of the comic and the characters over the next few months?
Cornell: This week's issue #11 is a one-off that explores Michael's childhood and fairy encounters, which is a comic I'm very proud of.Then our final arc (#12-14) is called "President's Day," all set on the night of the election, with everyone making last minute tactical decisions, both in terms of politics and the business of aliens, and with Professor Kidd seemingly on the verge of a breakdown. We do get to take our characters to the limit, right before the end, and we'll all committed to reward the readers who intend to stay with us with the same quality they've come to expect. We all know comics that get offhand and wandery towards the end. Not this one.
Nrama: You're getting the chance to work with Mirko Colak in #11. What does he bring to the comic, and how does his art fit with that single issue in particular?
Cornell: He gives our fairytale a really precise, characterful quality, drawing farm life and the world of the fairies with equal realism. There's something scary about fairies, and he really brings that out.
Nrama: What are you and Ryan Kelly hoping to bring to these last few issues during the "President's Day" story arc that finishes the run?
Cornell: It's putting the characters under the ultimate pressure, with a lot of twists and reversals as clever people plot against each other, and two huge cliffhangers, the second one of which reveals all about one of our ongoing mysteries. Ryan's drawing his heart out on these.Nrama: So many people want Vertigo to exist, but it feels like Saucer Country is one of those great comics that fits perfectly at Vertigo, but can't sustain a monthly sales level in the current comic book environment. Any thoughts on how readers can change that? Or is the market geared toward a different format/outlet for these types of books?
Cornell: Usually, when something I'm working on doesn't work out, I know why, and can kind of agree with the bad reviews, because I couldn't express what I was after, or because it got messed up, or I went too slowly. In this case, if I had a chance to do it all again, I wouldn't change a thing, but the audience just wasn't there. I think they would have preferred an actual alien invasion, rather than a story about UFO mythology. I'm hoping that if we can sell it differently, we can continue and hopefully sell to people who know what to expect.
Nrama: Is there any chance for the series to continue if sales kick in, maybe in trades?Cornell: I'm in talks with several different venues about continuing the story. I just want to finish it. Trades sales will always help, and I'd like to reward Vertigo for supporting the title so long. My editor Will Dennis, assistant Mark Doyle and Karen Berger, who back in the day took a chance on this, deserve a lot of credit, and I'll tremendously miss working with them.
Nrama: Anything else you want to tell fans about Saucer Country?
Cornell: Thank you for all your support. I hope you'll get to join us again for a relaunch. If we can make that happen, I'll tell the world.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!