Interview With the Scripter, Martin Powell
Caliber Comics Interview with series writer Martin Powell

Cal: The subtitle for Beyond Communion reads “A True Story”. Can you explain that?

Powell: What we're dealing with here is a series of personal UFO abduction experiences which Whitley Strieber has described having happened to him. I'm translating them to the comic book format. But this is Whitley's story.

Cal: I'm sure almost everyone has at least seen the cover of his book, Communion, with that eerie smiling alien face. It was a New York Times best-seller. But he was already a successful author before that, right?

Powell: Absolutely. He'd written both The Wolfen and The Hunger long before Communion. All three books have also been made into movies.

Cal: How did you meet Whitley?

Powell: I've been interested in UFOs for a long time and I attended a convention back in 1993. I met and became friends with a man who also knew Whitley and [he] introduced us.

Cal: How did this project come about?

Powell: Well, after a few conversations, Whitley and I became good friends. I sent him a bundle of comics and graphic novels that I'd written, and I suggested that he should think of doing a comic book about his own weird experiences. He really liked the idea and asked me to write it for him, based on his books and journal material.

Cal: UFO abductees are all the rage now, mainly thanks to The X Files and movies like Independence Day. Do you think Whitley's books have had an influence in all this?

Powell: Oh, absolutely. I'm confident that there would be no X-Files if Whitley hadn't written those books. It was a brave thing for him to do. Here you have an extremely successful best-selling author who decided to risk his entire career and professional credibility by admitting to having these strange episodes in his life, totally opening himself up to public ridicule and worse. I suspect that Whitley sometimes wishes he'd kept quiet, but he feels that his books helps other people with similar troubles. I'm sure that's true.

Cal: Hollywood make-up and special effects artist Steve Neill is doing the covers for the comic book. Will these be painted covers?

Powell: He may do that later on, but the first four issues are photo covers created by Steve. He actually sculpted full-size alien models and posed them in some very dramatic, and very disturbing, scenes. Very eerie stuff

Cal: Do you believe in UFOs?

Powell: That's a tricky question. I definitely believe that there's something in our skies that defies rational explanation. Whether or not they are spacecraft from another planet, though, is a very different and separate question that I certainly can't answer. I have a feeling though, to paraphrase Shakespeare, that the answer is not in the stars but in ourselves.

Cal: You sound as if you're speaking from experience. Have you ever seen a UFO?

Powell: If you mean if I've ever seen something weird in the sky that I couldn't recognize, actually I have. Many times. I think that most people have, if you were to ask them. In fact, when my wife and I first moved here to South Florida we were walking to the ocean one warm sunny morning when both of us saw this large black triangular aircraft gliding soundlessly at a low attitude over the downtown area.

Cal: Could it have been the Stealth Fighter?

Powell: Well, it was absolutely not the stealth fighter that we're all so familiar with now. There are military bases all over the region, I suspect that what we saw was actually some sort of highly advanced experimental aircraft.. .but why would the pilot fly such a thing over a heavily populated area? All I know is that it sure was an eerie few minutes while we were watching it.

Cal: Did you report it?

Powell: Of course, not. The government says UFOs don't exist, remember?(laughter) I did check the newspapers the next day, but there was no mention of the thing. Many people must have seen it, though. It was visible for at least several minutes. Then, a couple months ago I looked out our bedroom window and saw this bizarre orange globe, very low in the sky, floating over the neighborhood. I was shocked. I knew it wasn't the blimp, which I'd seen at night many times before. My wife saw it, too, and the UFO made the national news the next day. So, I guess I'm not the only one who's crazy.

Cal: Will Whitley be contributing to the comic book himself?

Powell: I hope so. He plans to at least write some back-up material, most likely his own commentary on the scenes that I will play out in the comic. We'll be including personal photos from Whitley, occasional interviews with him, and a very interesting letters column. Also, Steve Neill's alien paintings and sculptures will make guest appearances.

Cal: Whitley Strieber has now written four books about his alien experiences, including Communion, Transformation, Breakthrough, and The Secret School. What is your opinion regarding his experiences? Do you believe him?

Powell: Whitley is a personal friend. I take everything he says very seriously. But, I'm going out on a limb here...the answer is, yes. I'm convinced that something very unusual has happened, and is still happening, to Whitley, something that cannot be explained by medical, psychological, or technical science.

Cal: So, you believe that he's been abducted by aliens?

Powell: I'm not at all sure that these experiences have anything to do with visitors from other worlds, and neither is Whitley. He's never claimed that he was "abducted by aliens". He doesn't know what is happening to him, and thousands of others are having the same experiences with the same eerie scenarios.

Cal: Do you doubt the existence of extraterrestrial life?

Powell: Not at all. Now that we know that life probably existed on Mars, and that life may be thriving now on Jupiter's moon Europa, we shouldn't be too surprised about such things. I know there are many UFO debunkers, but I seriously doubt if many of them have actually looked into these things as deeply as I have. Clearly something very strange is going on. Maybe we'll understand it someday. I hope so.

© 1997 Caliber Comics