‘The Intergalactic Nemesis’: A comic brought to life

How exactly does one describe a graphic novel for the stage? Proposing a solution to this odd question is “The Intergalactic Nemesis,” a sci-fi adventure coming to the Performing Arts Center this month.

“The show bills itself as a live-action graphic novel,” said Joe Selmont, the communications specialist for the Anchorage Concert Association. “It’s really a one-of-a-kind experience.”

Essentially, it’s a radio drama with three actors and a foley artist performing live sound effects, and a live musical score on piano. It’s a sci-fi story true to the pulpy stories of many old comic books from the 1930s and ‘40s.

In addition to all that, there are comic panels projected onto a big screen as the story goes on, but according to the show’s creator, Jason Neulander, the panel projection was added after the show was first produced.

“It picked up a following here in Austin, Texas,” Neulander said. “We got invited to bring it into the 2,400-seat performing arts center here in Austin. In a flash, I got the idea of adding a visual component — you know, comic book artwork projected on a screen. And by an amazing coincidence, the venue had just bought a really high-quality projection system, and they were looking for reasons to use it.”

Since then, the show’s been a runaway success. It’s been shown all across the country, and also featured on famous shows like “Late Show with Conan O’Brien” and “All Things Considered.”

Of all things, however, it wasn’t comics that inspired Neulander.

- Advertisement -

“I was never really a huge radio play or comic book fan growing up,” Neulander said. “But I’ve always loved adventure stories told in film and through fiction. So for me, those were my biggest storytelling inspirations.”

He stated that his biggest inspirations were works like “Star Wars” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” as well as the works of authors like Ray Bradbury.

The show has proved very popular, and according to Neulander, it has a very broad appeal. He has many plans for “The Intergalactic Nemesis” moving forward.

“I’ve been doing (a spinoff) as an audio podcast,” Neulander said. “We currently have 11 episodes up online. That, ultimately, will take the form of a novel that I’m actually just about to start shopping out to agents. That’s definitely the next place I’m headed, is fiction writing. I’m keeping my future pretty open.”

He also has high hopes for a film adaptation somewhere down the line.

As it stands, though, “The Intergalactic Nemesis” is a show unlike just about anything else on the stage. Those who enjoy science fiction and the pulpy fiction of old could do a lot worse than checking it out.

“The Intergalactic Nemesis” will show at the Discovery Theater. It will run from Jan. 23-24. Tickets are on sale now at http://alaskapac.centertix.net/eventperformances.asp?evt=1304.