Mulder, it's me...
As a huge fan of The X-Files, I wanted to do a post, but I couldn't really settle on a topic. The TV show, the movies, the more recent seasons, the action figures, the books--or the comics? That's it! Now, there have been various incarnations of The X-Files comics over the years with Wildstorm and IDW both making noteworthy entries. Even Dark Horse had a single issue of X-Files spinoff The Lone Gunmen. (Strange fact: In the first episode of The Lone Gunmen, the titular trio thwarted a plot to fly a plane into the World Trade Center--this aired May 2001). Okay, now back to comics--The X-Files Topps Comics, to be exact!
These original Topps Comics are one of my favorite runs of any comic series. Part nostalgia, but I remember the anticipation of heading to the comic book store or Waldenbooks to get my hands on the latest issue. The series ran from 1995-1998 and consisted of 41 issues, a couple annuals, a few specials, an adaptation of the Fight the Future movie, 3 digests, several mini-series, and a handful of Season One episode adaptations. The stories were generally monster-of-the-week or tangential to the mythology of the series, but writer Stefan Petrucha nailed the Mulder/Scully dynamic, even in the early days. From religious prophecies to alien conspiracies to ghosts to survivalists, X-Files covered it all. But, we can't cover these books without highlighting the incredible art. Pre-Walking Dead Charles Adlard marvelously crafts the moody and perfectly-detailed inner pages to complement the story. In the early days, the likenesses and coloring were not always perfect, but somehow that made it even more enduring--it was X-Files merchandise, after all. Later issues with Gordon Purcell (one of my favorite Star Trek comic artists) captured the likenesses better, but offered a different tone than the the early issues.
If one is going to judge a book by its cover, it's perfectly fine to do that with the X-Files comics thanks to Miran Kim's insane covers. The strange imagery, dynamic colors, and moody atmosphere interwoven with Mulder and/or Scully are a treat to the eyes. The second issue (seen here) is probably my favorite cover of all time. The orange, fiery glow with our favorite agents is pure beauty. The first issue, and really any of the first ten or so issues, captures the feel of the X-Files tone in a way that only Kim's painted style could. Annual #1 is probably my second favorite as it invokes a feeling of Halloween. The story isn't about that, but those colors...
This series made a mark on me and I proudly admit the influences of this series in my own comics, especially Probed (for obvious reasons). I wish IDW would do something with X-Files in this vein again. After that horrible final episode of the recent TV season, X-Files is begging for a resolution (with mythology that makes sense) and more adventures of the agents now that they're back with the FBI. And while a few episodes hinted at it, I'm surprised there's not a reboot with new agents (Mulder and Scully can make the occasional cameo). The X-Files franchise can go on and one because the weird, unexplained, and supernatural are timeless. And so is the Topps comic series. Highly recommended!
Photos: I wore out my original Special Edition #1 with frequent readings, which collected the first three issues, so I picked up a new copy. The other two are eBay adds that I never added to my X-Files Topps collection--a 4th Special (I don't even recall this coming out) and an ashcan of the first issue.
Artwork: I couldn't resist creating a little Mulder/Scully artwork including what has become my favorite non-mythology episode "The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat".