A Brief Interview
with cover artist Steve Neill
and notes on unreleased issues

Issue #3 - Will it ever be released?
Whitley Strieber's Beyond Communion #3
by Whitley Strieber, Martin Powell, Shane White and Steve Neill, Based on the best-selling books by Whitley Strieber! With the publications of Communion, Transformation, Breakthrough, and The Secret School, the whole world has been fascinated by Whitley Strieber's strange and eerie encounters with alien beings. Now, with this comic book series, authentically approved by Strieber, his true adventures into the unknown are continued as he faces the death of a friend, a jeering group of skeptics, and the possible truth behind his strange abductions. If you haven't jumped on board yet, now's your chance to read the story that has already produced a movie and captivated over 20 million readers worldwide!

Steve Neill is the talented special effects artist who has worked with Whitley Strieber on many Communion-related projects. He is also the talent responsible for the distinctive cover art of Beyond Communion - a mixture of models and computer animation. We recently asked Mr. Neill if he had any insights that could explain why Caliber Comics has not released the third issue of Beyond Communion. This interview was conducted 5 Feb 1999:

Q: Mr. Neill, Caliber Comics won't send any explanations our way – do you have any idea why issue #3 of Beyond Communion has yet to be released?

SN: Wish I knew what was going on with those guys. I don't think they ever cared much for the comic or thought that it would sell. They never made any effort to advertise it to the folks that would have liked it the best, the UFO community. They [the UFO community] don't even know it exists as far as I can tell.

Q: You've done the Cover Art — the first two issues - and the Cover Art — issue #3 seems to have been finished, as I've seen it displayed on your web site. Have you been asked to do the art for the cover of issue #4?

SN: I did Cover Art — the first four issues, and was only paid for one. They still owe me under contact for the other covers. All in all I'd have to say they are not very honorable. Martin Powell was the writer who brought this idea to Caliber and I did two prototypes (see my web site) for them based on Martin's script. This should have received more attention than it did. ~

Steve Neill
Steve Neill, cover artist for Beyond Communion
Photograph Copyright © Steve Neill

Some additional notes abut Steve Neill's covers: Beyond Communion #1: “This was a rubber bust I made form a sculpture I did in clay. Whitley has the original somewhere. It was full sized.” Beyond Communion #2: “The second cover used my full sized alien figure puppets I made originally for the Sightings TV series. I did a lot of work for them and the Paranormal Borderline.”


We'd like to thank Mr. Neill for allowing us to share his comments. So, we are left with speculation as to the fate of Beyond Communion. Earlier, Caliber Comics issued two statements about the status of this comic book. The first statement was that issue #3 of Beyond Communion was delayed due to an illness. There is no reason to believe this was not true, and we sincerely wish good health on those who were afflicted. A later statement indicated that in order to avoid any excessive delays between subsequent issues, Caliber would not release issue #3 until after issue #4 had been completed - enabling a more definite pattern of release (and no more cliff-hangers left in the air for a year). These statements from Caliber may be a true reflection of the situation, and we hope that Caliber will come through with the rest of the issues.

At this point, given the delay since the release of the last issue, it would be more sensible for Caliber Comics to release a trade paperback compilation of all completed issues. Besides solving the cliffhanger problem, this would also allow the comic to be sold at bookstores alongside Whitley Strieber's other books, where it would be recognized and bought, rather than sold exclusively at comic shops. But does Caliber have the financial ability to do this – or even to release the issues as planned?

UPDATE: 01 Jan 2000: Caliber Comics posted their final word (?) about Beyond Communion on their website:

“Beyond Communion was planned to be an on-going series written by Eisner-nominated writer Martin Powell, illustrated by Shane White and Jim Royal, with covers by SFX artist Steve Neill. Unfortunately, the series was cancelled because of medical problems with Martin Powell and consequently, only the first two issues were releases. There are no plans as of January 1, 2000 to continue the series and only the second issue is currently available.”

In response to an inquiry from this website about purchasing the rights to the series, Caliber Comics responded: “If someone wants to 'purchase' the comic material, we don't have any problem with that. But Mr. Streiber is the one that has to be contacted and would make any decision.” They also expressed regret that the comics market seems “pretty much seculded in the world of superheros and refuses to expand outside of it.”

Caliber Comics posted the following on their Caliber Comics FAQ: “What happened to Beyond Communion and Necroscope? On both of those, they were brought to us by the writer, Martin Powell. After the first couple issues were released, Martin has some severe illnesses. However, since he was the one that brought the properties to us, we were bound to utilize him. Martin's illness extended far longer than anyone expected and our licensing agreements expired. Unfortunately, the sales of those comics weren't high enough to justify licensing fees which is ironic since both Communion and Necroscope are some of the best selling books out in the market. It shows the sluggish state that the comics market is currently in.”

UPDATE: 26 Feb 1999: Caliber Comics posted this reaction to our suggestion on their Feedback bulletin board:

“We like the idea of doing a trade paperback as the comics market just won't support this type of material (go figure!). It would also allow people to get the entire storyline in one shot. Stay tuned as we hope to be able to annonce somthing shortly (within 4-5 weeks). No guarantees but we feel pretty good about it.”

UPDATE: 8 April 1999: Caliber Comics posted news that is both good and sad:
Beyond Communion: Because of the illness of Martin Powell, the writer, this title has been delayed. The first issue is sold out, the third is completed. Look for a single volume with all 4 issues to be released.”

We may note that there is no guarantee that the release of issues 3 and 4 will resolve the story arc that was developed in issues 1 and 2. The dedication of the scripter, Martin Powell, brought the Beyond Communion comic book series to life, and with Mr. Powell's illness precluding the continuation of the series, Beyond Communion may end without being neatly resolved. In some ways that is entirely appropriate; Beyond Communion was a glimpse into the edge of the reality that is part of life, and glimpses tend to end leaving tantalizing memories and urgent mysteries in the mind of the beholder.

Another Beyond Communion comic that never happened, as far as we can tell, is this Special Edition of Beyond Communion #1, which was advertised to comic dealers as due to be available in April of 1998:

Whitley Strieber's BEYOND COMMUNION #1 Special Edition by Martin Powell, Shane White and Whitley Strieber. Communion has been lauded as being the single most important piece of literature available on UFO abduction and has practically, by itself, brought this phenomenon to the forefront of the American consciousness. With millions of copies of Communion and its three sequels already in print, this series is sure to bring in a whole new audience to the comics market! This special edition of Whitley Strieber's Beyond Communion #1 comes with a cardstock cover and is autographed by Whitley Strieber himself! B&W, 32 pp., cardstock cover, autographed, $6.95

Although the special edition with a cardstock cover described above may not have been produced, some regular editions with Whitley Strieber's signature were. He signed stickers that were placed on the inside of the front cover. Pictured below is the inside cover of issue #2. It is unclear how these signed copies were distributed.