Before Scully and Mulder ever met to explore the X-Files, they were exploring the extraterrestrial and supernatural on their own -- as children.
Mixing the classic X-Files duo in a retro Stranger Things style story, this week's X-Files: Origins delves into barely-teenage adventures of Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. Told in a pair of serialized stories over four issues in a 'flipbook' style format, X-Files: Origins gives a "Year One" vibe to the paranormal investigators that no one ever knew.
Newsarama spoke with series writers Jody Houser and Matthew Dow Smith about the title they're doing with artists Chris Fenoglio and Corin Howell, how it came about, and some possible sequel ideas they have like 'The College Years.'
Newsarama: Jody, Matthew - what can people expect with The X-Files: Origins?
Matthew Dow Smith: On one level, this is the origin story of two iconic characters who captured our imagination back in 1993 and have never let it go, but it’s also a story about two teenagers who are faced with mysteries that challenge their views of the world. And there are a lot of bikes. And flashlights.
Jody Houser: It's a new perspective on characters that we love, facing mysteries that are hopefully a bit less traumatizing than some of the episodes of the show I watched as a kid. This book is meant to be appropriate for a YA audience! I tweeted that the Mulder story was a bit like Stranger Things set ten years earlier, so there is a period piece aspect to it too.
Nrama: X-Files viewers know how Mulder and Scully first met, so how are you doing a story of their teenage selves intertwining?
Smith: Well, I hate to be the guy who says “you’ll have to wait and see,” but… you’ll have to wait and see. When we first started talking about doing this project, we knew they couldn’t meet without the continuity imploding, and I really didn’t want to do a whole “they almost met but conveniently just missed each other” thing. Part of the reason I was offered this job was that I had pitched them on a way to connect the stories that avoided all of that. And that’s all I can say on that particular topic.
Houser: I'll say the fact that this is a flip book is both a product of the storytelling and a pretty fun feature.
Nrama: How would you describe a 13-year-old Dana Scully?
Smith: We know from the show that she’s incredibly smart, a bit of a tomboy, and a woman of great faith. At 13, she’s all of those things, but she’s a little lost, too. Her family has moved from Annapolis to San Diego, which has been difficult for her, and her only real point of continuity is her faith. But then her Sunday School teacher is killed and her faith is challenged, which leaves her at a crossroads, questioning everything and not sure what to do.
Nrama: And how about Fox Mulder at this time?
Houser: Fox is a kid who is still dealing with the immediate aftermath of his sister's disappearance. Summer is supposed to be a fun time for friendship and wacky adventures, but that's pretty much the last thing on Fox's mind at the moment. That doesn't mean he'd ignore any mysteries that come along, though...
Nrama: Who else is in the miniseries?
Smith: You’ll see both of their families, all of whom appeared on the show at one point or another, so there’s that. Scully’s dad plays a pretty big role in her story, and there’s at least one familiar face who I won’t name, but should come as no real surprise. Though where they turn up is going to raise a lot of interesting questions.
Houser: Fox has two great friends in town for the summer who are determined to make sure he doesn't spend the whole season with his head in a book.
Nrama: How'd you each come to writing this book, and co-writing together?
Smith: I’ve been drawing the main X-Files title for a couple of years now and my editor on that book - Denton Tipton - knows how eager I am to write more, so when they started thinking about doing this, he called and asked me to pitch a young Scully story. I pitched it, they liked it, and then asked if I’d pitch a Mulder story instead. I was crushed, because I just love Scully as a character. But I went for a walk to clear my head and by the time I came back I had a Mulder story and a way to tie both stories together. They liked that enough to approve the whole thing, but there was no way I could draw a monthly book and write the everything myself, so we started talking about bringing in a co-writer, and one of the names high up on all of our lists was Jody Houser.
Houser: And that's where I came in! My schedule was absolutely slammed (and still is), but I just had to make time for this or my childhood self would invent time travel to come and kill me.
Nrama: This is marketed as a miniseries, but could you see yourself doing more of these should the demand be there?
Smith: I can absolutely see us doing more if the demand is there. They’re such fantastic characters and there are so many things to explore, so many mysteries, so many opportunities for them to get into trouble. We’ve got a larger arc in mind for both of them, so hopefully the fans will enjoy the book and give us a chance to tell that next part of the story.
Houser: We also joked about doing “The College Years” at one point and really digging into the eighties style, but that could get scarier than any monster...
Nrama: Big picture, what are your individual goals for this miniseries?
Smith: My only goal for this book was to tell a fun and interesting story that was true to the characters and the mythology, while adding some new layers to what we already know about them and the world Chris Carter and his fantastic team created. Prequels are always tricky, but if even one fan sits down to watch an episode of the show and sees Scully or Mulder in a new way, I think we’ll have done our job.
Houser: I don't think I could have put it better myself.