"Intergalactic Nemesis" is where radio drama meets graphic novels in a one-of-a-kind show for comic book fans and cinephiles alike. This live graphic novel played a limited run on Broadway, sold out the Kennedy Center, and now will come to Milwaukee this weekend only. "Intergalactic Nemesis" will show at The Marcus Center's Vogel Hall Friday, Oct. 18 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, Oct. 19 at 2 and 7:30 p.m. This afternoon, Oct. 15, Writer/Director/Producer Jason Neulander took the time to share the creative process behind the show.
"Intergalactic Nemesis" includes all original plot and artwork and was born out of an idea to write a radio play for fun in one of downtown Austin's coffeehouses just over ten years ago. Once the radio version of the project gained a following in Texas, they were invited to take the show to the (2400 capacity) Long Center for the Performing Arts in Austin. After this show, it occurred to Neulander to incorporate a large-scale projection of comic book artwork to create a visual spectacle better capable of filling such a large space. The new and improved show started touring in the fall of 2011 sporadically and has taken off since this past Spring. "Intergalactic Nemesis" has since ran two weeks on Broadway, sold out the Kennedy Center, and even performed in Scotland.
It was, for me at least, inspired by the fact that I was 7 years old when "Star Wars" came out and 12 years old when "Raiders of the Lost Ark" came out and it was kind of my way of getting back into my own inner twelve-year-old.
This original plot is set in the 30's, when Neulander says comic books and radio play really got started, and therefore a great place to to set their union. The setup for the show is best left to Neulander's own words:
It's 1933 and Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Molly Sloan and her intrepid assistant Timmy Mendez are chasing down a lead for a story that she's working on, and their research has gotten them to the of Carpathian Mountains of eastern Europe where they're meeting a contact to unveil what they hope is going to be the next Pulitzer Prize. But their contact tells them that their story has reached a dead end because the smugglers that they're trying to find have all disappeared because there's something in the mountains. Just as he's about to explain what's going on, this figure appears in the doorway wielding a knife and throws his knife at the contact, and the contact falls down dead right in front of them. And then this stranger appears, grabs the assassin, throws him into the roaring fireplace, and tells Molly and Timmy to run for their lives because they just stumbled upon the story of the century.
This story is one that is conveyed to the audience in a few ways to create a live graphic novel experience. While the original artwork in the graphic novel plays on a large screen panel by panel, three actors provide voiceovers for all the characters, while another person provides all the sound effects (from footsteps to spaceships).
It's literally like the graphic novel come to life.
In terms of the original artwork seen in "Intergalactic Nemesis", Neulander shared that it was all drawn by hand and has a rougher, rawer quality than what one might find in modern graphic novels, as he wanted to "hearken back to the golden age of comic books." He also wanted to incorporate classic cinema to the plot and artwork, and did so by giving each scene a wash of a certain color to give it a black and white movie feel while still using full color.
It's totally full color but it has that monochromatic feel to it. It's pretty stylized, I think it looks really cool.
This nod to black and white film is one of a few factors that makes "Intergalactic Nemesis" a show for everyone. Neulander says that they attract an intergenerational audience as the show is meant to reach the adventurous, fun-loving 12-year-old in us all.
We see families come, parents come with their kids, we have people who remember radio from when they were kids, we get people who are kind of the nerd gaming/"Game of Thrones"/you-name-it in pop culture nowadays crowd and everybody in-between, so it's pretty cool.
Even if you aren't a comic book fan, there are plenty of old movie references and adventuresome plot turns in "Intergalactic Nemesis" to keep you interested. It is an homage to older comic books and film infused with comedy, or as Neulander says,
Think of a goofy version of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and you've got the right idea.
When asked what he hopes audiences take from "Intergalactic Nemesis", Neulander closed in saying,
Our efforts in creating the show is to create the most entertaining evening of theater that we could muster, so that really is the whole point.. to get everybody to have a big giant simile on their face when they leave the show.
"Intergalactic Nemesis" will run at the Marcus Center's Vogel Hall this weekend only and tickets are still available at the Marcus Center Box Office (929 N. Water St.), by phone at (414)273-7206, or online. For more information about "Intergalactic Nemesis" visit http://www.theintergalacticnemesis.com/. For more information on the Marcus Center, visit http://www.marcuscenter.org/.