I’ll Miss Saucer Country
Yeah, I know the news broke a month ago when writer Paul Cornell posted that his series Saucer Country would end with issue #14, due out in April, but I didn’t talk enough about this series when it might have done some good, so consider this a last apology.
I liked Saucer Country, and I’m surprised that more people didn’t. The biggest discussion in the U.S. over the past few years has been about politics and the idea that the wrong kind of people (however a particular group defines that) are affecting or controlling things. Cornell’s series tackles both, lightly fictionalizing conspiracy theories into the idea that a serious candidate for President of the United States has really seen aliens. That she herself is of Hispanic origin plays with another layer of national debate.
Ryan Kelly’s art was also excellent, somehow blending candidates and greys in such a way that they both seemed plausible. Then there was the professor, who knew all about UFO mythology while not being sure he believed it himself. Until the two naked people from the Pioneer 10 plaque (launched in 1972) show up and talk to him, a device I found wonderfully intriguing. Is he hallucinating? Seeing ghosts? Receiving alien messages warped into a form his brain can comprehend? The whole book was interpretable that way — which maybe answers my question about why people didn’t take to it.
More to the point, I think it’s that periodical comics are not a mass medium anymore. Those who follow monthly puzzles have wandered away — no more the newsgroup analyzing Sandman every time a new issue comes out — and the readers who would want to play along read in larger chunks. There was a collection, Run, out shortly before the holidays, and I suspect sales of that have factored into the decision to end the series. At least there’s enough notice to wrap it up in a hopefully satisfying way. Cornell is promising more of a conclusion to come sometime in the future, if he has anything to say about it, and depending on when the rights revert.