LOST IN SPACE #1 debuted last month and fans of the tv series went wild! We caught up with writer Holly Interlandi as she was putting the finishing touches on issue #6, to discuss the trials of adapting such a beloved property to comics.
American Gothic Press: For someone who didn’t grow up on the show, did you feel some pressure in adapting these stories for the life-long fans? How did you prepare for the task?
Holly Interlandi: Oh, there was a ton of pressure. I had nightmares about die-hard fans grilling me on the most minute details of every episode. I went back and watched some of Season One, though, and discovered that a lot of classic era Sci-Fi has a very similar feel, so the shows and films I had seen multiple times—like THE TWILIGHT ZONE, THE QUATERMASS EXPERIMENT, and THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL—could also inform my take on the LOST IN SPACE scripts. Also, good storytelling is universal, as is clear from Carey Wilber’s teleplays, and eventually I told myself that I didn’t have to be able to quote the show verbatim to know how to tell a story.
AGP: For such iconic characters, how did you go about finding an artist(s) to properly illustrate them?
Holly Interlandi: When it comes to illustrating an existing property, I think Fox would agree that character likeness is the most important. The idea is for fans to be able to pick up where the show left off, imagining the original actors in their iconic roles, and that can be difficult to do if the artist can’t capture what made the characters so likeable in the first place. I also believe that the two artists we chose, Kostas Pantoulas and Patrick McEvoy, each have a style that fits their story arc very well. Kostas’s grave stoicism grounds the drama of “The Curious Galactics”, while Patrick’s whimsical lines and panel work is perfect for the psychadelia of “Malice in Wonderland”.
AGP: I noticed a couple places in the script you had notes about updating the tools/materials the Robinsons were using. How open was Fox to changing details in the story?
Holly Interlandi: I had a lot of freedom in the adaptation, but when it came to technology, we were all pretty firmly in the camp that we should stick to what they had used on the original show. An exception was the use of the force field in Issue 1, a special effect that wouldn’t have been available in the 60s; but it’s depicted in the comic exactly as written in the script, and the magic of comic books is that you don’t need special effects or a budget to bring that kind of thing to life.
AGP: The second arc, MALICE IN WONDERLAND, is a lot more light-hearted than the first. Was it easier to or more challenging to adapt the goofier story? Which arc did you enjoy writing more?
Holly Interlandi: I read both scripts before doing anything with them, and I must admit that it was “The Curious Galactics” that spoke to me the most — it being intelligent, philosophical, and incredibly dark for an episode that would have taken place post-Season Three when the scripts were more prone to camp and silliness. I’ve always been a fan of the more serious and deadly adventures when lives are actually at stake and getting through the ordeal changes everyone involved. That said, adapting “The Curious Galactics” first really made me appreciate the humor of “Malice in Wonderland”, which is honestly hilarious in certain parts. The Robot in particular really steals the show, unlike in “Galactics” when he’s basically a supporting observer. Best of all, the craziness of “Malice” enabled me to use the sound effect “BONK”—an amazing and grievously underappreciated word. So I guess you could say that while I enjoyed doing “Galactics” more, doing that script first helped me enjoy “Malice in Wonderland” more than I would have otherwise.
AGP: What were some of the biggest challenges in adapting the teleplays to comic books?
Holly Interlandi: I think the most obvious thing is that when you’re working from a teleplay, there is an actual camera involved, and the characters are moving. Thus, there could be a closeup shot of someone blinking for dramatic effect. That’s not the case with comics, where you’re working with still imagery. You could put the word “blink” onto the page directly, but that’s more of a humorous device. A lot of what an adaptation involves is deciding which still images from the script would be the most effective in telling the story.
Another challenge has been dealing with how wordy Carey Wilber’s scripts are. They’re highly philosophical and dialogue-heavy, which is hard to do in comics because, as anyone in the industry will tell you, you run the risk of turning the story into a bunch of “talking heads”. There are techniques to avoid such issues (I tend to refer to “Wally Wood’s 22 Panels That Always Work”), but in an ideal scenario, the characters and action are dynamic enough that you can cut a lot of dialogue and still tell the same story. I did cut a lot of dialogue, especially in “Malice”, but I feel confident that the story has stayed intact.
Follow Holly on Twitter at @AGPEditor for updates on all the upcoming titles. LOST IN SPACE #2 debuts April 27, 2016 on CaptainCo.com, Comixology, and your local comic book shop. LiS #1 and apparel available on Captainco.com.