Director’s Commentary: Peter Hogan on the return of Resident Alien
It’s never a bad thing to see more work coming from Peter Hogan, a writer who has been involved with publications as diverse as Revolver, 2000 AD and numerous DC series to name but a few. When he teamed up with the excellent Steve Parkhouse the other year for Resident Alien, serialised in the Dark Horse Presents anthology (a good place to let new stories and characters try out) I enjoyed it and was delighted it lead to a mini series based around ‘Harry’, our stranded alien living the quiet life in rural America while he waits on rescue. The series and main character grew on me instantly and I was very happy to find out Dark Horse had given the guys the green light for a second run, Resident Alien: Suicide Blonde, and I am even happier to tell you that Peter was kind enough to take some time to talk here about creating the new series while Steve was good enough to pick out some of his artwork for us to share; over to Peter:
(cover to Resident Alien: Suicide Blonde #0, published by Dark Horse in August)
Twenty-odd years ago I was hanging out with an English friend in New York, a guy who’d been living there for some time. Since his wife was American, I presumed he had a Green Card. Nope, he replied when asked, and showed me what he had instead : a plastic ID card that read ‘Resident Alien’. I thought it was hilarious, and also that it would make a great title for a story, though back then I was an editor, not a writer.
Anyway, when Steve Parkhouse told me he wanted to do a story about aliens, I remembered the title, and the rest of the story just flowed from that. What if there was an alien actually living here ? Someone who was simply stuck on Earth and wanted to go home again, so he’s keeping a very low profile. But what if he got lured out into the world somehow ? What if he got seduced into solving a murder mystery ? And what if, and what if …
(meet Harry, just your average, small town retired doctor...)
We always felt Harry the alien should always be depicted visually as an alien, rather than have readers see him as a normal human, the way the other characters in the story obviously do. The result is such a powerful image, one that makes you immediately ask a lot of questions. What’s this alien doing here ? Why aren’t the people around him freaking out and calling the National Guard ? Can’t anybody see that he’s an alien ? Is he clouding their perceptions with his mind, or with some kind of technology ?
An alien detective seemed like a fun idea – a way of commenting on human foibles from an outsider’s point of view. So I wrote a proposal and some script, and Steve did a half dozen pages of art, we shopped it around and Dark Horse snapped it up. Mike Richardson told us he wanted to run it in the reborn Dark Horse Presents, gave us some great editorial advice upfront and then just let us get on with it. Couldn’t have asked for a better place to hang our hats.
We did our best to repay Mike’s faith in us, and the world seemed to like the first series of our alien friend’s adventures a lot. So we started work on the second series. At the end of the first story arc Harry had lured a serial killer out into the open where he could be arrested, and got himself shot in the process.
He’d also met someone who may be able to see through his disguise, though only time will tell where that’s going to lead. Since Asta is extremely popular with readers, I’ll just reassure them that she’s going to be a vital part of this story from now on. Anyway, we left Harry recovering from his gunshot wound, but very much more involved in the world than when we first met him.
But we also learned that a secret government agency discovered Harry’s crashed landing craft three years ago, and in this next series we’ll see how they’ve been looking for him ever since.
With the second series, while I knew exactly what was going to happen later on, I had no idea how to begin it. I was recovering from a really bad viral infection at the time, so perhaps my thinking was fuzzier than usual, but the opening scene I’d planned just didn’t work. So I tried another idea, and then another, and then went back to the first one again. Nothing would ignite, and it felt like I was trapped in a revolving door, doomed to go round aimlessly forever. Then out of the blue, Steve helicoptered me out of the dilemma. He emailed me a sketch of Asta wearing a strange native costume, a sketch he’d done mainly for his own amusement … and seeing it triggered something – I now knew exactly where to begin.
(Asta in her tribal regalia, art by Steve Parkhouse)
So now the story starts with Asta and her father visiting the recuperating Harry in a shamanic dreamtime setting, where Asta’s father warns her that Harry will end up in big trouble if he leaves Patience.
(Harry in dreamland, art by Steve Parkhouse)
Series Two concerns a young lady who seems to have committed suicide – except that it then starts to look like someone else killed her and then made it look like suicide. If that’s true, then one of Harry’s friends would be a prime suspect, so Harry has to solve the crime in order to clear him. That means leaving the small town of Patience to visit the Big City, and so Asta tags along to protect him.
Does Harry still end up in big trouble on the way ? You’ll have to read The Suicide Blonde to find out …
(cover to Resident Alien: Suicide Blonde #1, published by Dark Horse in September)
FPI would like to thank Peter and Steve for taking the time to share some thoughts on their new series with us. The first Resident Alien run was one of my favourite reads of last year and I’m eager to enjoy this new series. Resident Alien: the Suicide Blonde kicks of with an issue #0 on August 14th with issue #1 following in September. You can read an by Pádraig with Peter about the first Resident Alien here on the blog.