MIDNIGHT VISTA – INTERVIEW WITH COMIC WRITER ELIOT RAHAL

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The new series MIDNIGHT VISTA will be in comic shops September 4th, but be sure to pre-order a copy from your local comic shop by August 12th. Published by Aftershock Comics, Midnight Vista is about an alien abductee who is returned to earth 19 years after his disappearance. The series is written by Eliot Rahal with art by Clara Meath, colours by Mark Englert and letters by Taylor Esposito. I had the pleasure of interviewing Eliot to discuss this and his other series CULT CLASSICS from Vault Comics, these are the edited excerpts from our email correspondence.

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Scott: I’ve had the opportunity to read issue one of MIDNIGHT VISTA, but can you can give a brief overview for the new series.

Eliot: MIDNIGHT VISTA is about about a boy (Oliver Flores) and his stepdad dad (Nomar Perez) who are abducted by aliens 19 years ago. Now Oliver is back. He remembers what happened, but the problem is no one believes him. The book is trying to prove what happened to him but in the process of doing that he only looks more insane to the outside world. It’s a book about the pursuit of truth, reality, and connecting. It’s about the lost and the lonely.

S: I understand that this story is based off your own personal experience, can you elaborate on this.

E: I’d say, inspired. I had a close encounter as a child with my stepfather that really shaped a lot of my personality (consciously and subconsciously). The event (which I remember very little of, but my stepfather remembers a lot more of – whether you believe him or not) basically resulted in two hours of missing time, so it’s hard to base anything around that specifically. The search for truth is the spiritual button that controls my heart.

S: I know that the story from your previous comic series, HOT LUNCH SPECIAL, was also based on a bit of your family history. So why do you find it important to use these as the ground work for your comic stories.

E: Once again, inspired. A lot of the characters, language, some stories, and some of the names of my Lebanese side are all inspired. The American Immigrant story, our myth, and the spirit, I took from all of those things. I’d say, I grounded these stories in my personal experience because I was trying to do something different, and give a publisher a book that nobody else could write. It’s also taught me a lot about writing and how to make something that’s close to your heart without betraying the people you love.

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S: Is there a specific reason you believe now is the correct time for a story like this?

E: Ha — I mean. There are so many answers to this. But in general, I had no control over the process. I was just trying to tell a story! BUT… with that. Yeah, I think there is a reason there is renewed interest in the subject of aliens. I think it’s political — our American institutions are failing and we want to think somebody is controlling, or that something will save us. I think it’s spiritual — once again a desire to be saved, or that there is something more than the fucked-up reality in which we all share. I think it’s also a psychic phenomenon — we are all talking about it. This conversation is in our Zeitgeist and it’s being taken seriously. Perhaps we are linked to something. Maybe we are mentally preparing ourselves for the day of First Contact. Maybe “they” are priming us. I don’t actually know. All I know is Oliver’s story.

S: I’m not very familiar with the situation surrounding the Area 51 raid, could you maybe give me a quick overview?

E: I don’t know much about it as well. But — from what I know a bunch of people (thousands? hundreds of thousands?) plan on storming Area 51 to discover THE TRUTH. I think I hate it? All of the memes and tweets feels like UFO’s and aliens (which are a very serious subject to me) are being made into a joke, once again. But I think it’s REALLY interesting that this time it’s being made into a joke not by denying the existence of E.T.’s — but because everyone is sorta in on it/into it. All I know is that Area 51 hasn’t had anything of UFO-related value inside its borders for a LONG time. The place has become too much of a tourist hot spot for assholes who… YA KNOW, WANT TO STORM A GOVERNMENT BASE!!  I mean… Honestly. Like that is the most disturbing part about this. I don’t like people, “Storming” things. Usually, it’s super not good. USUALLY. 

S: What is your process of finding collaborators?

E: Sometimes I go on the hunt. Sometimes we find each other. Sometimes they approach me. Sometimes I’m placed. It truly depends on the project. 

S: Did you work with Clara Meath prior to pitching the book to Aftershock?

No — however, we have been at many shows together and I was familiar with her work. 

S: You’ve worked with a lot of publishers throughout your career in comics, what is the pitching process like? Do you have to tailor your pitch for different publishers?

E: It’s been changing as my career “grows.” The first book I made an entire 22-page ashcan. Then for many years, I’d provide like 5-6 pages of test art. For a few, I just sent a paper pitch — or a paper pitch with an artist attached. It really depends on the publisher and my relationship with them. Either way — pitching is the worst. There’s nothing worse than getting excited about a new idea and the uncertainty of trying to sell it.

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S: CULT CLASSIC is back, how are you feel seeing RETURN TO WHISPER continuing and what can be expect from CREATURE FEATURE?

E: I AM SO EXCITED. Felipe [Cunha], Dee [Cunniffe], Ellie [Wright], Taylor [Esposito], and myself all worked really hard on RETURN. I’m excited for people to see how that story finishes. I’m really proud of it. I hope people respond. CREATURE FEATURE is the closest thing I will ever come to a super-sick guitar solo. This book is insane. And I just hope people will have so much fun that they will stay reading the rest of the series. Vault has been a huge supporter of us and this series. They believe in this idea. And that dedication shows. 

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S: You’ve obviously been keeping very busy, but is there you’re working on that you’re most excited about.

E: UMM! ALL OF THEM. I’m just… Really happy to be here. Making comics. Working with talented individuals. I just don’t want to take that for granted. I just wanna do a good job. 

S: Lastly, do you have any reading recommendations, any format?

E: I just finished the Nickel Boys – a fantastic novel. I just binged the SPIN trilogy prior to that. And I’m jumping back into the EXPANSE series soon. Comics wise — well, the stuff my colleagues send me is always a treat and privilege like: SOMETHING IS KILLING THE CHILDREN, TRIAGE, QUEEN OF BAD DREAMS, DESCENDANT, INFINITE DARK (I WISH I COULD PLUG EVERYONE) — But otherwise, my pull list includes BATMAN, DAREDEVIL, and IMMORTAL HULK. I’m very ashamed to admit I have not made it my LCS and picked up Hickman’s new X book yet. I’m a monster and a fraud, I know.

MIDNIGHT VISTA lands in stores September 4th. Be sure to grab a copy of either the regular cover by Juan Doe or the incentive variant by Razzah.

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I read comics. I write about comics. You read about me writing about comics. If you have comics you want me to read, write me, and I will read it. I might even write about it.