Paul Scheer releases comic "Aliens Vs. Parker"
USA Today March 11, 2013
Scheer makes comic comedy debut with 'Aliens Vs. Parker'
by Brian Truitt
TV star and partner Nick Giovannetti put space delivery men in humorously dire straits in sci-fi miniseries.
"We get all our ideas from the same place: We pay this genie and he gives two to three ideas and we have to give him the souls of our newborns."
Paul Scheer is joking, of course — that's what he does on a daily basis, as a comedian and actor on shows like FX's The League, MTV's Human Giant and Adult Swim's NTSF:SD:SUV: (short for National Terrorism Strike Force: San Diego: Sport Utility Vehicle).
But beginning Wednesday he and partner Nick Giovannetti, a comedy writer for MTV and Adult Swim projects, take their humor to comic books with the new Boom Studios! four-issue miniseries Aliens Vs. Parker.
The sci-fi comedy follows Parker and his crew of fellow video-game nerds who work for the Space-Ex delivery company. They're hired to deliver a classified package to a mysterious planet, and there they meet some space marines as well as extra-terrestrial life forms of the dangerous sort. (Aliens is in the title, after all.)
Scheer wanted to do a humorous take on the movie Alien, and he started writing it as a feature film that quickly became Aliens Vs. Parker. However, he says, "we quickly realized that Hollywood isn't really financing $120 million comedies, and it might be best served to turn to a medium where we didn't have to limit ourselves in any way."
Giovannetti quips that they weren't allowed to have "tastefully drawn nude portraits" of themselves on every page, "but story-wise it was wide open. That's what makes comics so special. The scale you can operate on is incredible."
That was a huge deal for Scheer, and one of the reasons why he wanted to try his hand in the medium.
Working in TV, "even though we have creative freedom, we don't have the unlimited budget that we'd want. Comics gives you the best of both worlds," says Scheer, adding that he learned that last year doing a special Comic-Con issue of NTSF with Boom! "It was an episode that we joked about but could never do."
With Aliens Vs. Parker, Scheer and Giovannetti are paying homage to all their favorite pop-culture stuff from the past and present, including Party Down and Gremlins, subtle nods to video games Rainbow 6, Gears of War and Curse of Monkey Island, and various lectures from Michio Kaku and Neil deGrasse Tyson for some "real science."
In creating an alien that you haven't seen before, theirs definitely takes a page from the Cloverfield model but with a twist: It's translucent.
"When an alien is attacking, you can see who they just ate," Scheer explains. "Our artist Manuel Bracchi really brought a rough collage of attributes to life, and I'm psyched with it."
Adds Giovannetti: "Aliens and Jurassic Park helped shape our monster, too. As for the tease, I would say they are anatomically correct, one alien especially."
There's also a strong Ghostbusters vibe in the tone and humor — fitting since you'll find an original poster and Peter Venkman action figure at Scheer's desk.
"It really comes down to just loving putting normal people like us in fantastical situations. I think we grew up on that type of film, from The NeverEnding Story to Dead Heat," he says.
"Even Die Hard had that," Giovannetti adds. "John McClane was a regular guy. Yes, he was a cop, but he wasn't an action hero at the beginning. He was just a blue-collar guy with a (bad) marriage."
Both writers grew up with comics as kids — Scheer specifically was into X-Men, Punisher and Batman — but didn't really become nerds for the medium until later. The pair lists Ed Brubaker, Scott Snyder, Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn among their favorite writers.
As for their own collaboration, they're very much on the same page in terms of building the story together, according to Scheer.
"We each seem to gravitate to different characters as our favorites so we kind of become the point person for them," he explains. "Nick has great ways to make the most fantastical stuff a reality and also has a great handle on creating the tone and world of the marines.
"Most importantly besides being super funny, he's a true vulgarian and has written some of the most funny offensive stuff that you'll never see because this book is PG-13. But the edited scenes are awesome."
At the very least, Giovannetti's mom is proud of him for that.
"We are pretty balanced and have a good shorthand with each other," he says. "Paul is great at editing and coming up with ideas on the fly, but I think his true talent is that he's a little like Captain America. He's just so damn good he inspires everyone around him to be a bit better, work a little harder. He also defeats Nazis on the reg."