The small town of Nowhere, New Mexico, is about to get very unwelcome visitors when an alien prisoner transport crashes there, unleashing a flood of the universe's most dangerous creatures, and it's up to a mismatched cop and alien to stop them. That's the high-concept idea behind writer Corey Mitchel's (G.I. Joe: Frontline) action-packed new comic Miles From Nowhere.
Mitchel spoke with SYFY WIRE about the origins of the project, it's original iteration as a TV show and if John Carpenter is really as cool as he appears.
Could you give us the quick pitch on Miles From Nowhere?
Miles from Nowhere is the story about an alien prison transport crashing on Earth, and the lone surviving alien marshal and a human cop teaming up to keep the most dangerous criminal in the universe from fleeing the planet, which could ultimately lead to the destruction of Earth.
How did the concept come to you?
I had pitched a story about an interstellar police force years before (think Season 1 of True Detective set in the Star Wars universe), but the idea was deemed too expensive, so I tried to figure out how to make it more contemporary. Then one night I was flipping through the channels in bed and The Fugitive came on just as the bus transporting Richard Kimble crashed, and that's when it hit me. What if that bus was an alien prison transport and the Tommy Lee Jones character was the last surviving alien cop on board? And hence, the concept for MFN began to form.
You originally developed Miles from Nowhere as a television series with John Carpenter. Can you tell us more about that iteration of the project?
The whole development process was very brief. Basically, I pitched the idea for Miles from Nowhere to John. He liked it and wanted to move forward. From there, we met with Brian and Lisa Henson who also liked the idea and wanted to move forward. However, before we were able to pitch to the networks, like many projects in Hollywood, it never got off the ground due to events unrelated to the story. But on the plus side, it ultimately led to the Miles From Nowhere book.
Would John have directed any of the episodes had the show moved ahead?
That was the idea at the time, at least the pilot anyway.
You also collaborated closely with John on a Snake Plissken anime movie that ultimately wasn't produced during the mid-2000s. What is John like as a collaborator?
John is just a cool dude, period. I mean if you saw him in the Big Trouble in Little China music video you obviously know that, right? Anyway, he was always fun to chat with and learn from. Great stories and also a huge video game fan. What's not to like? As far as working with John, I can't begin to tell you just how talented the guy is as a writer. Most people only think of John as a director, but he can write his butt off and compose some incredible tunes. I loved when John would offer up some amazing dialogue for a character and I, as the writer, was like, 'Thanks for letting me look good, dude.'
When did you make the decision to adapt the story to comic form?
A couple of years ago I was at the San Diego Comic-Con with my oldest son listening to at all of the passionate writers pitching their books and I thought to myself, this is the medium, Miles would be a perfect book. From there, I began adapting the teleplay and searching for an artist.
What can you tell us about the characters in the story?
There are three main characters, Miles, the human cop, Gen, the alien cop, and Solomon, the most dangerous criminal in the universe. Miles is that cop you briefly see in a movie who pulls over the main characters as they pass through the desert on their way to their final destination. He's totally content with his simple small-town life, which obviously is about to change in a very big way. Gen is very much like Tommy Lee Jones' character in The Fugitive with a little bit of The Terminator thrown in. he is very by the book and shows little emotion. Finally, Solomon's backstory is kept a mystery for most of the book, but we do know that he is extremely dangerous, destroyer of entire planets, and an all-around bad guy. He's very much the Darth Vader of the story.
How did you meet your collaborators Chris Blackstock and Michael Atiyeh?
I originally had been working with another artist who wasn't able to keep up with deadlines so I had to move on and I wasn't haven't any luck finding a suitable replacement. Then one night my wife comes home from a friend's party and she tells me that she met a woman whose husband is an artist and asks if we'd like to meet. I'm like, "Why not?" So I meet up with Chris and I learn that he is a fine artist who has worked doing covers in the music industry among others things, but never comics. I'm thinking this isn't gonna work, but we agree to have him do a sample page from the Miles From Nowhere script. A few days later, I get the page, and I am blown away by his storytelling. Ridiculous! I'm like this guy is a comic book artist whether he's done it before or not, and I'm lucky to have him.
As for Mike, Chris and I were looking to find a colorist for Chapter One that could really nail down the gritty feel of the book. We looked at tons of samples but couldn't find that right person. Finally, Chris showed me a page from a book he was reading and said, 'We need somebody that can do this.' The coloring on the page was incredible and I quickly agreed so we put that work up online as a sample of what we were looking for to potential colorists. A day or two later we get an email from Mike saying that he's confident he can color a page very similar to the one we posted as a sample for one very good reason... the sample we posted was his. And you're hired.
Of the alien convicts we're going to see in the comic, do you have a favorite character or design?
I really like Agwog. She is a very important character who makes her presence known beginning in Chapter Three. Unlike the other aliens who all were very humanoid and believable when it comes to building ships, etc. (I always hate when aliens in movies look like blobs, but we are to believe they could build the gargantuan ships they arrive in). Anyway, Agwog was different, she didn't need to be an alien who could build ships, she needed to be a predator, something all of the other aliens would fear. And after numerous designs and iterations, I think she turned out great.
The story feels very much like a melding of sci-fi and Western. Did any other movies or comics influence Miles From Nowhere?
For me, the biggest influences shaping the story were movies like The Fugitive, Alien, I Come in Peace and all of the Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns like The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. For those people who haven't seen any of Leone's work, do yourself a favor and watch one.
Is there any chance your Snake anime screenplay could one day be adapted into a graphic novel too?
You're asking the wrong guy. I wish it would be made as I love the script and the project, but I have zero influence or control.
Do you have any other projects lined up beyond Miles From Nowhere?
I'm currently working on a few projects outside of Miles, but in the comic book world, Miles is and will remain my baby. The story has so many places to go and could spawn off several different books. The world is endless and so are the bad guys. A writer's dream. If the public buys the books then I'll keep writing them (and hopefully Chris and Mike will agree).
Miles From Nowhere: Chapter One will be available digitally on Comixology and Amazon from Thursday, August 1. The remaining three chapters of Book One to be released bi-monthly thereafter.