SDCC '08 - Chris Warner on the Return of Aliens & Predator

SDCC 08: Aliens & Predator at Dark Horse

Some armies sneak in for secret invasions… but these guys. They come right through the front door.

And burn through it with acid.

Dark Horse Comics is lunging forward with the return of three classic DH licensed titles: Aliens, Predator and Aliens Vs. Predator. The story isn't over when the movie credits rolled, and Dark Horse is returning to these fertile grounds for all new adventures for Aliens, Predators and some head-to-head action.

Dark Horse editor Chris Warner is heading up this three-pronged attack, and he's no stranger to these aliens. Originally breaking into comics as an artist, he worked on the inaugural Predator comic series, a follow-up, and the comic Aliens Versus Predator which later inspired that movie. He expanded later into writer and now sits in the editor's chair at Dark Horse, being the one compiling omnibuses of these various comics.

As Dark Horse looks to bring these three series back to the forefront, we talked with Warner to find out what's what.

Newsarama: Big news is coming out that Dark Horse is celebrating the respective anniversaries of Aliens and Predator with new series. What can you tell us about that?

Chris Warner: This month is the 20th anniversary of our first Aliens comic (written by Mark Verheiden and illustrated by Mark A. Nelson), so we thought that would be the perfect time to announce the re-launch of the Aliens, Predator and Aliens vs. Predator comics franchises for 2009. May 2009 is the 30th anniversary of the release of Fox's Alien film, and we're planning the first issue of the new Aliens series to coincide with that. And the 20th anniversaries of the first Dark Horse Predator and AVP comics also hit in 2009, so new series releases are planned to coincide with those birthdays. Should be a good year for monsters.

NRAMA: Wow, those aliens have something to celebrate. What's a good anniversary gift to by say, a face hugging alien?

CW: Socks.

NRAMA: It seems like they might tear on their feet.

So what's the shape of these new comics? Are these ongoing, miniseries, one-shots?

CW: I'll have to take the Fifth on specifics for now. I can say there are some tie-ins to the established comic-book universe. Other than that, keep watching the skies.

NRAMA: To you, what stands out as the high points in the DH comics of Aliens and Predator? And you can mention your own work, drawing the original Aliens Versus Predator series and some Predator issues.

CW: Wow, there are so many. Over the past couple of years I've been compiling Omnibus collections of the material we've published over the past twenty years, and the creativity and ingenuity is just astounding. The cover artwork alone over the years is like the best museum ever. On a personal note, that the first Predator series (which I drew back in the day) became a story springboard for the Predator II film was pretty exciting. I mean, there are scenes in the film ripped right from the comics pages. That was almost unthinkable twenty years ago. And certainly, the unprecedented success of the first AVP series (which I believe is still the most successful licensed comics series ever published) was just mind-blowing. I mean, Dark Horse had like nine staffers at the time, and all of a sudden we had a single comic-book that sold nearly half a million copies! It was like being handed the keys to Disneyland.

NRAMA: Before we go, let's talk about the impact these have had for you guys in Milwaukie. Dark Horse has a long history of doing excellent licensed work, including being the genesis of what would be the AVP movie. With that in mind, what's DH's goal this time with the relaunch?

CW: All three of these Fox series were key in Dark Horse making the transition from a small, boutique publisher to a major player in the mainstream, and those series really opened the doors for film and other media properties to become viable, exciting comics series that would become major components of the overall universes of the franchises. Before we showcased the potential that licensed titles had to spawn legitimate, must-read graphic fiction, licensed titles had been considered part of the comics "ghetto," books simply to take advantage of momentary mass popularity but not to be seen as featured titles warranting top talent and serious consideration for hardcore comics readers. To most publishers, licensed books were junk—to us they were diamonds strewn on the ground. We couldn't believe that no one else thought these could make not only good, but great comics. We feel these landmark titles deserve first-class re-launches with all the accompanying fanfare and commitment to quality that they deserve. There might not even be a Dark Horse today without were it not for Aliens, Predator and AVP. These titles changed the comics industry, and that quantum shift changed the entertainment industry.

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