“People love conspiracies. They tell us that we were right to be paranoid” Paul Allor’s digital-first series Strange Nation comes to IDW Publishing
In the weird and wonderful world of Strange Nation, investigative journalist Norma Parker gets caught up in the middle of an alien invasion, is chased by killer sasquatches and is the victim of a global conspiracy involving her entire family. Originally released as a digital-first series from MonkeyBrain Comics, it has now been collected together by IDW Publishing and released as a printed edition so we caught up with writer Paul Allor to find out if he is right to be paranoid about the world we live in!
Tell us a bit about where the inspiration for Strange Nation came from? Did you come up with the idea of an alien invasion and then build from there, or did you try and create an X-Files style conspiracy book with tabloids at the centre?
PA: Neither. I actually started by wanting to write a book about journalism, and about an investigation that threatens to take everything away from the journalist at the center of it. And then I built out from there, and, you know… shit got really weird really fast. Especially once my co-creator, the amazing artist Juan Romera, came on board. Juan draws weird SO damn well, so I started writing for that.
Speaking of X-Files, with it returning to our screens this year do you think the time is right for conspiracy style books like Strange Nation to make a bit of a comeback?
PA: Maybe? Have conspiracy stories ever really gone out of style, though? People love conspiracies. They tell us that we were right to be paranoid, that everything really IS stacked against us.
… I might be projecting.
Strange Nation features everything from Elvis and aliens to sasquatches and global conspiracies, why do you think they have sustained such poignancy in pop culture? Did you have a check list of weird phenomenon you wanted to include, and were there any you couldn’t?
PA: I think they’ve sustained poignancy because they are awesome. And no, no checklist, I just used what I needed for the story and, to a lesser extent, what I wanted to see Juan draw. That’s what guided it.
The real star of the book (at least in our mind) is gorilla/human hybrid Joe – was he created early on in the process of writing Strange Nation? Was he your creation or a product of artist Juan Romera?
PA: Well, everything in the book is a co-creation of both Juan and I. And yeah, he shows up in the first five pages, which were our pitch, and were written/drawn about a year before anything else, so I guess he was created pretty early on.
I can’t really remember much about his origins – you’re going back to 2011, for that – but I do know that when I wrote him, and saw Juan’s fantastic designs, it was definitely a lighting-in-the-bottle moment. I love that character. His dialogue, his world-weariness, was so much fun to write for.
You started off releasing the book digitally via MonkeyBrain Comics and it is now available in print via IDW Publishing, how much flexibility and opportunity did releasing it this way round give you? What were the benefits of releasing it digitally first and would you do it that way round again?
PA: Chris Roberson and Allison Baker at Monkeybrain are amazing to work with, and also super-hands-off. So it was a great deal, and really gave Juan and I the freedom to make exactly the book we wanted to make. And IDW is basically my publishing homebase at this point in my career – I’ve worked on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and GI Joe there, and they’re also publishing Tet, my creator-owned book with Paul Tucker — so it was really wonderful to have them pick it up for print.
Would I do it that way again? I dunno. Depends on the project, the creators, the market, the financials…
After the launch of this collected edition when will we be seeing more Strange Nation and will it be released via MonkeyBrain first again?
PA: I would love to revisit this world, and I hope to. Juan and I have a five-arc story we want to tell, and this is just the first. Having said that, there are no plans at the moment. Honestly, sales didn’t really support doing more at this point in time. But things change!
Finally, of all the conspiracy theories you have going on in Strange Nation, which would you most like to be true?
PA: I hope there’s alien life, but I hope they’re not invading us. Holy shit, who in the WORLD would want that? Nah, I don’t want any of them to be true, and thankfully, I’m confident none of them are!