Joe Harris Talks IDW’s ‘Millennium’ #1, Lance Henriksen’s Frank Black, ‘The X-Files Season 10!’ [MStars Exclusive]

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By Jorge Solis ( | Jan 21, 2015 05:00 PM EST

Based on the popular Fox crime/thriller, Millennium, Frank Black (starring Lance Henriksen) returns to take on more violent criminals and occult serial killers. In an exclusive interview with MStars News, writer Joe Harris talks about adapting another Chris Carter series, the first with The X-Files: Season 10, into a comic book from IDW Publishing, with Millennium #1.

Based on the the Millennium TV series, ex-FBI profiler Frank Black (Henriksen) moves to Seattle to consult for a private law enforcement group, the Millennium Group. Using his mental skills of empathy, Frank senses what he knows about the serial killer’s motives and sexual history. The comic book series picks up Frank’s pursuit in stopping the Millennium Group from bringing about the apocalypse.

Harris discusses with MStars about how the concept came about, where the comic book series picks up between the Millennium series finale and The X-Files crossover episode, and how artist Colin Lorimer and colorist Joana Lafuente brought Frank Black into the comic book page.

MStars News: To start off, tell me how the Millennium series came about.

Joe Harris: Well, everybody knows I guess at this point that The X-Files: Season 10 has been a success; for me, for IDW, for FOX, for X-Files fans. We built up some credibility over this past year and a half, I guess, if not more at this point. And a little less than a year ago, I was hanging out with IDW editor-in-chief Chris Ryall at a pre-Superbowl event here in New York City last year and he asked me what I thought about Millennium because it had come up as a potential property that IDW could pick up, and they asked what I thought about that.

I was very excited because it’s a wonderful show. It’s a little bit obscure compared to The X-Files, but I felt like we could really build off of something we were doing with The X-Files: Season 10. I thought there were a lot of possibilities there and a lot of potential. IDW told me that if we do it, we only want to do it if you’re writing it, and that was really cool. I had heard that Chris Carter was happy with me coming on board and FOX is happy that I’m on board. Hopefully the fans will feel the same. We’ll find out soon.

MS: Readers got a taste of Frank Black in the recent two-parter of the The X-Files: Season 10. Was it a challenge to write the dialogue for Frank Black, especially since Lance Henriksen’s voice is so distinctive?

JH: It’s all a challenge. Writing any of these characters is a challenge. If Fox Mulder and Dana Scully don’t sound like Agents Mulder and Scully, it’s just not going to work. You’ve got to be able to lose yourself in reading the comic and actually be able to envision the show for this to work. I would say that writing Frank Black is no different.

And I say that as “yeah, it’s all a big challenge,” but it’s also a tremendous amount of fun. If I can hear Lance’s voice in my head while I’m writing, it’s too f*cking cool, I’m having a great time with that! So I would say it’s a challenge, but one that’s very worthwhile!

MS: In the TV series, Frank Black’s visions are scattershot, but the images have meaning behind them. Tell me about bringing that visual aspect to the comic book page.

JH: Well it is one of the signature visuals of Millennium. In fact, it’s one of the big visual hooks, I think the other being Frank Black’s appearance himself. I think Lance Lance Henriksen brought a physicality to that character that is so strong and distinctive. Frank Black is a visual magnet without even doing anything, just his presence.

Now there’s that and the visions, I think those are the two visual hooks of Millennium. We’re just trying to find the right way to convey that element, so that it takes advantage of the very unique things we can do in a comic book to evoke that experience that the audience had watching those moments in the television show.

So I look for places where we’ll use Frank Black’s visions to expand on just what the mystery is. Who gets an exposition out of it because Frank, based on what he sees. He’s also an expert profiler, so that’s a big part of his toolbox and what he goes into.

But, I think that just depicting these moments, there’s a lot of back and forth that Colin [Lorimer] and Joana [Lafuente], the artists and colorists. I try to find the right take, the right pitch, the right composition, the right visual effects to really covey those moments so that they’re just weird enough to feel like the show, without being confusing for people who have absolutely no idea what Millennium is.

MS: Tell me about the character design because it seems like Frank Black has aged since the series finale.

JH: We kind of play it a little fast in the numbers in both The X-Files and Millennium, but time did pass. It is the year 2014, or I should say it is the year 2015. That’s the Millennium changeover plus 15 at this point, so we are seeing an older Frank Black.

We are seeing a guy with mileage on him. We’re seeing someone who since the year 2000 when things were supposedly saved in that X-Files episode, where Mulder and Scully help Frank avoid the apocalypse.

Some things have in fact gone wrong in the world that may in fact be attributable to Millennium. And a guy like Frank Black who’s always right in the middle of both this overarching fanatic struggle between good and evil, he was also pursued by this Illuminati type group, the Millennium Group, and all of that has taken its toll. So we are seeing a Frank Black 15 years after we last saw him.

I think that’s just the way that’s going to ring the truest with the readers. We will also see flashbacks, I believe, some point along, the way to a younger day, back to when we first met the character. There are things I’d like to do in general, is kind of play with the past and go between the stitches a little bit.

MS: Frank Black’s daughter played a significant role in the crossover and in the series finale. Will readers see Jordan back in the series?

JH: Yeah! Jordan, absolutely, she’s going to have a big role in this. Whatever Frank Black means to the Millennium Group, I think Jordan means potentially that much more. There’s a lot going on on that end. You’re going to have to wait and see what it is, but she’s going to play a big role.

MS: Millennium paved the way for such shows as Criminal Minds and the CSI spinoffs. What can you tease about the look of the comic with Colin Lorimer and Menton3?

JH: I can tell you it looks fantastic! If you saw that two-parter that Colin drew for X-Files, when we hired Colin onto the book, we knew that there was a really good chance we wanted him to draw the Millennium book. He brings a great interpretation of my script. He has a lot of ideas in terms of how he interprets some of the crazy ideas I throw at him. I really like the way he depicts Frank Black first and foremost, as well as Fox Mulder who’s going to be guest starring as well as all the other characters he’s been putting together.

So I’m super excited, as excited as I am to be working with Matthew Dow Smith regularly on the X-Files season 10, as well as our various fill-in guys like Tom Mandrake. I’m super excited about working more with Colin and with Joanna, our colorist! I think they’re going to do signature work on the book. I can’t say enough good things about Menton. He is an absolute all-star beast when it comes to the covers we put out on these books and his Millennium stuff is just top notch.

I’m so excited for the next couple of issues, for the covers to come out and finally for them to be public, because I think they’re just going to blow people away!

MS: What other projects are you working on now?

JH: Well right now we’re wrapping up Great Pacific and I’m getting ready. I’m going to be writing two new Image Comics series in 2015 that people are going to hear more about. I’m still writing The X-Files: Season 10 for IDW. I have a new Oni Press series that’s going to be out in the new year and I’ve got some more issues of Dynamite’s Alice Cooper coming.

MS: We discussed in the previous MStars interview about Walter Skinner’s solo story arc for The X-Files: Season 10. I was wondering, will readers still see that happening?

JH: I hope so! I love writing Skinner. He’s still something I really want to get in there, so believe me! I’m trying to find a place to at least get a solo spotlight issue in. Believe me, it’s on the forefront of my mind.

Definitely worth picking up, Millennium #1 hits store on January 20.