From Stage To Print

The comic of live-action graphic novel The Intergalactic Nemesis

This weekend, live-action graphic novel The Intergalactic Nemesis is making its big stage bow at the Long Center. But, and here's the fun fact, oh fans of two-fisted pulp adventure, there's actually a graphic novel of the graphic novel.

Well, technically, a comic series in seven parts. But here's the question: What makes the current performance of The Intergalactic Nemesis so special is that it's a comic plus plus plus. The first plus is that the original art is projected on a big screen, adding something cinematical to the experience. The second plus is the live voice-over work, provided by Shana Merlin, Mical Trejo and Chris Gibson. The third big plus is the additional son to the projected lumière, with live foley sound effects from Buzz Moran and score courtesy of ten time Best of Austin winner Graham Reynolds.

Does the self-published comic survive without those pluses?

Quick answer? Absolutely.

Writer Jason Neulander has been working within the Nemesisverse since its roots as a Salvage Vanguard Theater faux radio show back in 1996, but its narrative roots are really back in the 1930s. It's every single pulpy convention thrown into the blender and blitzed into one rich, creamy milkshake of globe-trotting adventure, alien invaders, sassy journalists, mesmerists, Lovercraftian horrors, time travelers and untrustworthy bandits. There's no new narrative ground being broken here, but there's a simple pleasure in old-school romps. As fearless reporter Molly Sloan and her cohorts gallivant from Transylvania to Tunisia in search of clues about a world-threatening plot, it's the same retro joy that put The Expendables at the top of the film charts.

As for the art, that's the also the back bone of the stage show. Penciller/inker Paul Doyle evokes the shady dynamism of Guy Davis' work on BPRD or Charlie Adlard's pre-The Walking Dead on titles like Astronauts in Trouble. Marvel Comic's colorist Lee Duhig, who picks up the color palate established by Viva the 'Nam co-creator Paul Hanley in the first two issues, keeps the action bold but gritty.

It's an interesting transition in issue five, where Neulander takes the story into a slightly more Kirby-esque direction with a little matter of a flight into space and a daring raid on the Zygonian homeworld. Doyle deftly handles the change of pace and milieu, adding a little bit of vintage daily strips and Fourth World-style grandiosity to the hard-boiled look of the opening acts.

It helps that, just like Neulander has gone all-out in the production values for the stage show, this may be one of the most luxuriously printed indie comics of recent years. Pulp purists may complain that the issues don't have that delightful musty scent of old print (well, delightful until you realize what made that smell. Look it up.) Instead, this is high-quality, glossy paper stock that makes the digital coloring pop. If, as Neulander hopes, this gets picked up by a publisher, it's unlikely to ever look quite as good again.

Individual issues of The Intergalactic Nemesis, as well as merchandise, are available through their web store.

The stage production of the complete story continues its two-night run tonight, Sept. 4 Saturday, 8pm, in Dell Hall at the Long Center for the Performing Arts, 701 W. Riverside. For more information, visit

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Comics, The Intergalactic Nemesis, Graham Reynolds, Jason Neulander, Buzz Moran, Zygonians

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