Karl Kesel Reveals the Truth About The X-Files: Year Zero

The X-Files: Year Zero © IDW Publishing
The X-Files: Year Zero © IDW Publishing

Following on from the success of ongoing comic The X-Files Season 10 which picks up where the cult TV show left off, this July, IDW Publishing is going back in time to show the origins of the FBI’s X-Files division. The X-Files: Year Zero is a five part mini-series which will show the origins of the department in the 1940s when Mulder and Scully are faced with a similar case to one faced by their predecessors many decades ago. Writer Karl Kesel has spoken to us about what we can expect from the series.

 

How did you become involved in working on The X-Files: Year Zero for IDW?

I’d talked back-and-forth with Chris Ryall [Chief Creative Officer and Editor-in-Chief at IDW] about doing a number of different projects for IDW. This is the one that came together!

Have you been a fan of the show for a long time or do you consider yourself fairly new to the franchise?

I had been a big fan of the show, especially early on.

Do you have any favorite episodes?

Who doesn’t love Flukeman? That was the first episode where I realized something unique and special was going on with The X-Files. I’m also a big fan of “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space,” which really captured some of the odder (and at times humorous) aspects of the UFO phenomena. And “Home”–with the crippled mother who lives under the bed–is without a doubt the most disturbing hour of network TV I know of.

Will Year Zero be classed as part of the show’s canon or is it a standalone alt-universe story?

With Chris Carter [creator of The X-Files] consulting, I’d consider it canon.

If the story is being considered canon, how will it correlate with the history of the division as established on the show, specifically that these cases became named “X” files because a clerk ran out of room under “U” for unsolved (late 40s/early 50s) and are hidden away by order of the director’s office?

All that will be addressed. But the whole “filed under X because there was more room there” sounds like one of the lamest cover stories I’ve ever heard. If you ask me.

The comic will be split between the present day and the 1940s, can you give us any idea of how balanced that split will be?

About 50/50, but that’s over-all. Certain issues may tilt more toward one time or the other.

We’ve seen that Mulder and Scully will naturally be appearing in Year Zero. Is there a possibility that any more familiar faces might make an appearance?

Yes. At least one other established character from The X-Files makes an appearance–a pivotal one, actually. And there are a number of “nods” to other characters and events that readers-in-the-know will enjoy.

Are the present day scenes intended to be set during Joe Harris’ ongoing Season 10, or do they take place during the classic television era of the story?

Season 10.

Two new characters are being introduced to the X-Files universe: Bing Ellinson and Millie Ohio. Can you reveal anything about them to us?

Bing Ellinson and Millie Ohio © IDW Publishing
Bing Ellinson and Millie Ohio © IDW Publishing

I’ll say this much: Bing Ellinson is referred to at one point as “The FBI’s Most Unwanted,” and there are no female FBI agents in 1946 [the first female agents joined the FBI in 1972] so Millie’s position is nothing like Scully’s. They’re dropped into the deep end in this story and have to find their own way out. And at many times and on multiple levels, they’re fighting for their lives.

You’ve referred to “UFO Noir” in publicity for the series, what have your influences been for this arc?

Noir classics like Double Indemnity and Out of the Past have definitely influenced this story in various ways. In a very different way, so has Them!–the 1950s movie about giant atomic-mutated ants (and James Arness’ character was an FBI agent in that, I’d point out). But just as important are the UFO reports and literature from the 1940s. This was the birth of the modern UFO, with the Roswell crash and Kenneth Arnold’s flying saucer sightings near Mt. Rainier, and there was a real feeling that something new was happening–something we’d never experienced before. That the world was changing. I try to capture that feeling in this story.

Would you like to come back to The X-Files and write in the franchise again?

Love to! Mulder and Scully are wonderful characters to write. Beyond that, the 40s are full of fascinating story possibilities that don’t fit into a modern setting, so I’d jump at the chance to do more with Bing and Millie. Only time (and sales figures) will tell…

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