Paul Scheer currently stars in FXX's The League, where he plays the lovably dense plastic surgeon Andre, and Adult Swim's loony action genre send-up NTSF:SD:SUV, which he also created.
But as impressive as it is to headline not one but two popular network series, these endeavors are merely the most public of a varied body of work that runs the gamut from producing (Hulu's upcoming Hotwives of Orlando) to viral web series making (The Arscheerio Paul Show) to film-cameo-ing (Piranha 3D and Piranha 3DD) to … comic book creating. ]
That's right, somewhere in between having a hand in nearly every filmed comedic work worth watching over the last year or so, Scheer penned a glossy, beautifully illustrated four-issue sci-fi comic book. Aliens vs. Parker #1 hit the stands in March 2013 and in February of this year, its publisher, Boom! Studios, released the full series as a trade paperback.
Following a team of wisecracking, space-age, Fed-Ex-style deliverymen, Aliens began as a screenplay, a big-budget comedy sci-fi spec, co-written with Scheer's creative partner Nick Giovannetti. The project languished when it became clear that “no one's making those,” Scheer said. “But I was always a comic book fan growing up and actually got more into it as I became an adult because people were passing me all these great books, from Y: The Last Man to Ed Brubaker's Captain America stuff, and even the Kick Asses… And it occurred to me one day that it would work as a comic book.”
Scheer, who is seemingly incapable of second-guessing himself, had no prior experience making comic books other than penning a one-off publication based on NTSF:SD:SUV in advance of Comic-Con 2013. But Aliens' mashup of geeky humor and suspenseful sci-fi was sturdy enough to garner the interest of Boom! regardless. And so, with Italian artist Manuel Bracchi heading up illustrations, Scheer and Giovannetti plunged into a crash course in the graphical, paneled storytelling unique to comics.
“[In television,] there's always five levels of writing,” Scheer said. “You come up with the idea, and then you outline it, and then you write the script, and then you rewrite the script, and then you shoot the script, and then you edit it. In doing this comic book, we were essentially doing all those steps at once. You're serving as the director, the actor, the lighting designer, the wardrobe – you're doing a million different jobs. It's actually really challenging.”
For all that work, Aliens vs. Parker will ultimately be experienced by only a handful of people in comparison to Scheer's TV productions. But that doesn't matter to him. “I don't care if 100 people see it,” he said. “As long as I'm proud of it, it's worth everything. I just like the process.”
For cynical creative types, there is a lesson to be learned from such unbridled enthusiasm for process over product. Scheer, who is seemingly incapable of second-guessing himself, has always had a shoot-first-ask-questions-later approach to creativity. It's paid off for him before and it paid off again upon completion of his first serialized comic book. Upon its release last year, Aliens vs. Parker found its way to the honchos at Marvel, who took a liking to Scheer and Giovannetti's blend of action and rapid-fire wit. The comic book behemoth has since brought the duo on to write an upcoming limited series for one of its properties. While he couldn't reveal yet what character they'll be writing for, Scheer said that if that project is well received, there will be even more comic writing work down the road.
“I don't see myself writing comic books as a profession,” Scheer said, “but I really like writing books occasionally…I'm used to working in TV and film where you have a limited budget, a limited scope, and you can only do certain ideas. In comics you can do anything and everything as much as you can imagine.”