Not only is Joseph Mallozzi a super-nice gentleman with excellent taste in food, he’s also an amazing writer. Best known for being a producer and script writer for Stargate: SG1, Stargate: Atlantis, and Stargate Universe (he’s responsible for some of my favorite episodes of all time), he is now the co-author of a fantastic new comic book series called Dark Matter, which releases tomorrow, January 11th.
“A derelict ship floating in space. Its troubled crew awakened from stasis with no memories of who they are or how they got onboard. Their search for answers triggering the vessel’s deadly security system, awakening a relentless android bent on their destruction. Facing threats at every turn, they will have to work together to survive a dangerous voyage charged with vengeance, redemption, betrayals, and, ultimately, hidden secrets best left unknown.”
The great thing about a writer like Joe is that he always knows where he’s going in a story — and in a graphic novel that is filled with as many immediate mysteries and questions as Dark Matter, that’s crucially important. As he tells MTV Geek: “The plan is to take the readers/viewers on a journey that will, over time, give them the answers to the questions posed. It won’t be that hard to do because I already know all of the answers. All of them. No fruitless wait for secrets to be revealed. No making it up as we go along. All will be revealed…in time.”
As someone who has trouble plotting more than a page in advance, that’s a skill I admire tremendously.
Joe kindly stopped by the blog to answer a few questions about Dark Matter. To celebrate the release of his first comic book — and because I adore his work on Stargate — I’m giving away an iTunes download of Stargate: Universe’s first season to one lucky person. Leave your name in the comments to enter!
You’ve been a bit hush-hush about the inspiration behind Dark Matter, but could you talk just a little about a particular scene or character that inspired *you* during the writing process?
I’ve been reluctant to reveal my sources of inspiration for Dark Matter simply because I fear that doing so will tip the big end of issue #2 revelation. It’s a twist that establishes the series premise and really kicks the adventure into high gear. If it all goes as planned, readers should be alternately shocked, delighted and, hopefully, intrigued. As for the inspiration behind particular characters – in the original script, the ship’s crew assign themselves number designations based on the order in which they awaken from stasis. My source of inspiration for ONE was the wonderful Ben Browder (SG-1’s Cameron Mitchell, Farscape’s John Crichton) – earnest, sympathetic, heroic with a certain amount of comical vulnerability. A lot of TWO comes from a couple of my ex’s – take-charge and tough. THREE is a mix of Wolverine, Lost’s Sawyer, and my buddy, actor Mike Dopud (SGU’s Varro). FOUR’s inspiration came from the innumerable anime I’ve screened over the years, Rurouni Kenshin in particular. FIVE encompasses the most annoying traits of my nieces and nephews combined with the very best personality quirks of my four dogs. SIX was inspired by two of my old buddies in Montreal, Nigel and Bertram – scary-looking as hell but utterly delightful company.
Well, for obvious reasons, I suspect THREE is going to be one of my favorite characters! Now, I’m going to assume you’re an organized writer — as in, a plotter. But, during the writing of Dark Matter, was there anything that took you by surprise? A leap in the storytelling that you didn’t expect?
The first two issues were fairly straightforward since I was using the television pilot script as a guide. It covered the first half of the opening arc (the first two issues). Although I knew where I wanted to go with the second half (final two issues), I had to discover the dialogue within the individual panels, building the words and visuals simultaneously on the page. It was actually a lot more liberating than I expected and, by the end of issue #4, I was on a roll.
For me, there was a bit of a learning curve moving from novels into comics. Was it the same for you, transitioning from writing for television? What was the biggest surprise, if any? And, looking back on the process, is there any advice you would have given yourself?
Oh, it was the same thing for me. Certainly a learning curve. While there weren’t any big surprises, I was – uh – taken unawares by the amount of detail that would be required of me in describing the characters, the locations, even the props. In retrospect, it makes perfect sense since you want to supply your artist with as much direction as possible but, coming from the world of television where those sorts of details are worked out in post-script concept meetings, it took a little getting used to.
Any plans to continue writing comics, either for Dark Horse — or, perhaps, Marvel and DC? Are there characters you would love to get your creative hands on?
I’d love to continue writing comics, either another creator-driven series or maybe for one of the big companies. Specific characters I’d love to write for? Hmmm. Off the top of my head: Batman, the Beast, Deadpool, and Deathlock.
Along those same lines, you wrote a brilliant short story in the anthology MASKED. I, for one, would love to read more of your prose. Might we see that in the near future?
I have nothing but respect for (and a little envy toward) individuals like yourself who make a living writing prose fiction. My experience on Masked, while incredibly satisfying, was also incredibly frustrating and exhausting. It took me about nine months to write that short story, “Downfall”. In comparison, it takes me about a month to write a t.v. script from concept to final draft. Even though I was very satisfied with the results, the prospect of sitting down and writing another short story (much less a novel) is downright daunting. What’s your secret? Come on. Dish.
Long nights, a strong stomach, and lots of caffeine! Thank you for visiting, Joe! Dark Matter is amazing, and it’s at the top of my pull list.