'Mystery Science Theater 3000' Comic Book Takes Premise In Bizarre New Direction

Crow and Tom Servo don't just comment on old comics. They enter the storylines.
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Mystery Science Theater 3000” is branching out into comic books and it’s a mystery it took the TV series so long.

The sci-fi spoof is pairing with Dark Horse Comics to produce a six-issue run written by the show’s staff including creator Joel Hodgson.

The first issue, due in September, will mark the culmination of a 25-year-old dream for Randy Stradley, vice president of publishing at Dark Horse and the editor on the project.

“I pitched them the idea of a comic back in 1993,” Stradley told HuffPost. “I didn’t realize that Joel, the original host, was on his way out around then.”

When “Mystery Science Theater 3000” was rebooted in 2017 for Netflix under Hodgson’s tutelage, the idea finally seemed doable.

The comic book version makes fun of cheesy comics the same way the TV show makes fun of bad movies, but with a key difference: Rather than commenting on the films as they play on screen, characters like Crow and Tom Servo are inserted into the storylines of various public-domain comic books.

Here’s a sample page:

Dark Horse Comics/Mystery Science Theater 3000

“We put the characters into the actual stories and try and use as much of the original dialogue,” Stradley said.

Readers can tell which lines of dialogue are new by looking for the talk balloons with a small circle in them.

Stradley said at first he’d assumed the comic book versions of the characters would read the comics in silhouette ― like on the TV show ― but there were some problems. For instance, the artists started out drawing Tom Servo, host Jonah Ray and Crow left to right, just as they appear on TV.

“But Joel pointed out that people would read the comic left to right so Crow would always seem as if he had the last word,” Stradley said. “It gets redundant.”

Beyond the six planned issues, both Netflix and Dark Horse are hopeful fans will clamor for more. However, the cast and crew of the show are working on their second season of the reboot and may not have free time for a few months.

Still, Stradley has found some more bizarre comics that he can’t wait to suggest.

“There are some weird comics out there,” he said. “There was one called ‘Space Western’ that was cowboys fighting aliens in space.”

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misspelled the last name of Randy Stradley as Spradley.

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