As Quirk Books release The X-Files: Earth Children Are Weird (out now), ahead of an ET and Back To The Future edition in the new Pop Classics series, illustrator Kim Smith talks to SciFiNow about her love for the original TV series, and the importance of knowing the source material for existing and new fans.
I was hugely excited about the potential of illustrating a children’s book for Quirk based on The X-Files TV series. Growing up, The X-Files was one of those shows that was everywhere in pop culture: even if you didn’t watch the it you could get the idea of what it was about from jokes and spoofs from other media. Alas, with the series premiering just as I’d turned seven, and despite having performed a choreographed dance to the theme song, my parents still wouldn’t let me see it.
When it went to syndication I could catch an episode or two, the most memorable being an episode about a man’s head which may or may not explode (more on this later). I thought I would really love it because I was obsessed with the paranormal, but at that age was filling up most of my TV time with things like Are You Afraid Of The Dark, Goosebumps, and Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
I knew today, though, if I was to illustrate The X-Files: Earth Children Are Weird and have the fans love it just as they loved the show, I had to fully immerse myself in the The X-Files. I needed to grasp why it was such a great show, and not just the idea of the show that was perpetuated in pop culture. Luckily for me, it was Netflix to the rescue.
It turns out, my gut instincts were correct. I really loved the original show, and adored the monster-of-the-week episodes. They can be very entertaining and creepy as well as campy. I think it’s through these episodes that you really get an idea of who Mulder and Scully are as characters and how they relate to each other. The X-Files: Earth Children Are Weird felt like it could be one of these monster-of-the-week episodes so I pulled a lot of inspiration from these.
My favourite episode is from Season 5 titled ‘Bad Blood’. Mulder and Scully are investigating vampires in a town, where Mulder kills a teenage boy who he thought was a real vampire. Mulder and Scully retell the series of events to each other from their own perspectives, to get their story straight. It’s so interesting to hear the way Mulder tells the events in contrast to Scully. It’s a delightful character study.
Also, while watching the series, I kept waiting and waiting for the head exploding episode to pop up. I couldn’t remember enough detail to search it out. Finally, as I reached Season 6, there was an episode titled ‘Drive’. This was it! 15 years later! I’ll save you from too many details, but if you have been a Breaking Bad fan at all, like I am, you’ll be happy to find out that this episode guest stars Bryan Cranston and was written by Vince Gilligan.
Working on the Pop Classic series of children’s books from Quirk Books, I feel it’s important to really capture the heart of the source material in the story, while enticing new fans to these stories. It’s also great way for existing fans to share these iconic shows with their kids, in a completely fun and non-scary way!
The X-Files: Earth Children Are Weird is available now from Quirk Books.