Alien Legion Returns
Recently, I had the chance to talk with Chuck Dixon. You may know him from such comic books as Batman, G.I. Joe, Transformers, Birds of Prey, Dark Horse Comics' Aliens series, or so many others he's worked on over the years.
He's one of the most prolific writers in comics. I fell in love with his work on Alien Legion for Marvel Comics as a kid. Alien Legion is considered by most to be the high point of the Military SF genre of comics and this summer it will be back with a new mini-series entitled "Alien Legion: Uncivil War."
Q: Mr. Dixon, you are one of the most prolific writers in comics and you're a novelist as well. How do you find the time to do it all?
Dixon: It’s not a matter of time as much as a matter of scheduling. I stay way ahead of deadlines. That’s the best way to prevent writer’s block. And I don’t actually believe in writer’s block. It’s something you can talk yourself into.
Growing up, I was a hardcore fan of Alien Legion and am super excited about the Legion's return this year. Can you tell us how that came about?
Dixon: Carl Potts (co-creator of AL along with Frank Cirocco) is just a tireless promoter. He works hard to keep Alien Legion alive. And he’s a very loyal friend who always returns to the classic creators whenever he gets a deal going. This time he joins us by inking Larry Stroman. The results are gorgeous!
How did it feel to be writing the Alien Legion again all these years later and what has the fan response to the announcement of the series been like so far?
Dixon: AL fans have gone wild for it. I hope their enthusiasm spreads to those who’ve never read about Nomad. The reprint volumes always do well so I can only assume this new story will have a strong response. Coming back to the characters was easy for me. Though decades had passed I fell back into their voices and motives with no problem. And Carl is the one who prods me to push the envelope with new concepts and dangers.
In addition to the new Alien Legion title, you also have out a new series of time travel novels, Bad Times. Can you tell us some about the series for those who may not have heard of it yet?
Dixon: It’s a series of prose novels about a team of ex-Army Rangers who travel back in time to prehistoric Nevada to rescue a team of scientists who ran into something unexpected back there. The second book is also available and involves a lost treasure and Phoenician pirates in the ancient Aegean. They’re big action stories inspired by the men’s adventure paperbacks I gobbled up like candy when I was younger.
You've written so many comics for Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, etc., was there any one issue or arc that still stands out in your mind as your best work or the most fun to have done?
Dixon: Funny you should ask that. I’m returning to a series I did in the 80s. IDW will begin publishing a new monthly WinterWorld series starting in June. That first mini-series, with astounding art by Jorge Zaffino, really put me on the map career-wise. But mostly it was my first really successful creator-owned collaboration. Working with Jorge was a revelation and affected all the work I did following.
I am also a Birds of Prey fan so I have to ask, what was the experience of scripting that title like for you?
Dixon: It was fun! At first I didn’t want to do it. Jordan Gorfinkel, one of my editors at DC at the time, came up with the concept for the book. I thought it was a cool idea but was convinced it wouldn’t sell for a variety of reasons. Jordan WAS convinced it WOULD sell and wrangled me in through sheer persistence. I’m so proud that we did a successful titles with two female leads and they kept their clothes on the whole time and it was a book that women enjoyed too.
Do you have a personal favorite comic character or a title you would have loved to have worked on but never got the chance?
Dixon: Same answer I always give; the Fantastic Four.
And lastly, is there any advice you'd give to newer writers looking to break into the comic industry some day?
Dixon: Use EVERY way. Go to cons and meet other creators. Tour artist alley and look for kindred souls. Try to get SOMETHING out there even if it’s just a short-run web comic. There are SO many venues now from web comics to print-on-demand. Visit my website at dixonverse.net. There’s some articles there about how I got in and advice for dealing with editors.
Visit his website at www.dixonverse.net.