Intergalactic, planetary: Inside “live-action graphic novel” The Intergalactic Nemesis
Rayguns-and-robots sci-fi comes to the Marcus Center For The Performing Arts this weekend.
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Technology and entertainment are moving ever forward with web series, mobile games, and hula hoops. (Kids these days!) But with more old media getting archived online, there are inspired new versions of old storytelling ways. Live-action graphic novel The Intergalactic Nemesis takes the format of an old radio play, and then mixes in a video screen featuring original artwork, which tells a story of classic rayguns-and-robots science fiction. The show stops in at the Marcus Center For The Performing Arts October 18 and 19, complete with an official after-party at 42 Lounge. The A.V. Club sat down with Austin-based Jason Neulander, creator of the project, to discuss the show.
The A.V. Club: What is a live-action graphic novel?
Jason Neulander: It’s a mash-up of radio play and comic-book formats. What we do is take the artwork from the graphic-novel version of the story, remove the word balloons, then project it panel by panel on a huge screen while three actors voice all the characters. A Foley artist creates all the sound effects, and a keyboardist plays a cinematic score, all live and in front of the audience’s eyes.
AVC: What were the challenges of adapting a radio play to this format?
JN: The most challenging part, which was also the most fun part, was figuring out how to translate the radio version (which is how this project started) from an audio format to a visual format. What I did was take the radio play script and, scene by scene, interpret it as a comic-book script. We actually then created the comic books, which then became the chapters of the graphic novel, and only after that did I create a hybrid performance script that took the best elements of the radio play and combined it with the comic book. The end result is that the radio play, graphic novel, and live show are all a little bit different from one another.
AVC: What appeals to you about Golden Age sci-fi as a genre?
JN: It’s the stuff that I got into when I was a kid, so I think it’s all about getting back into my own personal inner 12-year-old.
AVC: What difficulties did you have presenting an original tale rather than adapting something from a classic serial?
JN: That’s a great question. I think the hardest part has been raising awareness about the project. It would be so much easier if we were working with, say, Superman. But from a personal standpoint, I’ve never really been into adaptation as an artist. It would be easy to take a storyline from Superman and turn it into a live show, but that’s not interesting to me. For me as an artist, I’ve always directed and produced original work. The fun part is that you get into the challenges of developing an original story, but the really rewarding part of that is to see how an audience responds. In this case, they really seem to love it, and it’s really amazing to know that folks are responding so well to something that me and my friends created from scratch.
AVC: What other media would you like to see The Intergalactic Nemesis take over?
JN: Another great question. I’d love to see Intergalactic in every media! My big, hairy 1,000-pound-gorilla goal is to get the characters into live-action movies, TV, comic-book series published by someone other than me, video games, paperback book series, you name it. That would be a dream come true.