The Farscape Comics: A Mixed Bag but Necessary

Many fans have not read or even know about the existence of the Farscape comics. This is a shame but it is not their fault. The Farscape comics aren’t secret, but they were never widely advertised or distributed.

When the TV show Farscape was ripped away by corporate bureaucrats from a German holding company, there were multiple additional seasons in the mind of creator Rockne O’Bannon. Season 5 was in the planning stages and O’Bannon had ideas for Season 6 and possibly beyond. Thanks to the phenomenal efforts of the fans and Brian Henson, Farscape was green-lighted for a two-part movie. O’Bannon and Henson took about 12 episodes worth of Season 5 grand story arc material and squashed it down to about 4 episodes which was released as the two part The Peacekeeper Wars. The action felt rushed and squeezed because it was, though it was entertaining and gave us the closure of the grand story arc that started midway through Season 1.

And yet, The Peacekeeper Wars was not the end of the Farscape saga. O’Bannon’s vision continued with enough material to fill out another season-plus of action. That material was published as a series of single-issue comic books by Boom! Comics. The Farscape comics were published as 56 issues between December 2008  and October 2011. The first issue picks up Moya and friends within days of the end of The Peacekeeper Wars but starts an entirely new grand story arc that continues through to the last issue. A few years later, Boom! combined the comics into books. Each book contained four original issues each. Unfortunately, Boom! stopped in the middle after publishing only seven books, forcing us to acquire the last eight single issues to complete the story.

The thing that passed for Rygel in the first book. (It got better.)

I both love and hate the Farscape comic books. I hate that they are called comic books. I hate that they stuff Farscape into the cliches of the comic book genre. I hate that too much of that comic cliche artwork make the characters at times unrecognizable. I hate that the comic book format squeezes the action down so that it feels like watching a limited-animation 1960s cartoon. I hate that O’Bannon handed the writing of the dialogue to other writers leaving some cringe-worthy out-of-character utterances by the characters.

But I love the Farscape comics books because they ARE Farscape. They are official canon, unlike certain other “Farscape” books. Rockne O’Bannon wrote the grand story arc and the overall story line is interesting, thought-provoking, and entertaining. We see the Farscape family grow and change, at times in surprising and controversial ways. We see unexpected plot twists, meet new characters and new enemies. We see much of what made the Farscape TV show interesting, even though the comic book format deprives us of the flow and visual appeal that made the Farscape TV show so interesting.

My opinion is that the Farscape comics books are must reads. This is especially true because O’Bannon said in several 2014 interviews that the upcoming film will take into account what transpires in the books. O’Bannon has hinted that the film will pick up the action about 18 years after the resolution of the books. There are, I feel, strong hints at the very end of the last book about what is coming. So, yes, the Farscape books are a mixed bag, but necessary to fully enjoy Farscape past and future.

Better art arrived later in the series.
Better art arrived later in the series.

My recommendation for enjoying the books is to do a reverse squint while reading them. What I means is while squinting at something narrows the focus and helps you zoom in on something, you need to do the opposite with the books. Their focus is too squinched. You need to fill in the gaps of the stilted format and place what you read in the larger context of what you know about the characters and the history of Farscape. It also helps to keep photos of several of the characters near by to remember what they look like. What I learned to do is to try to imagine the scenes as they would have been filmed with proper dialogue, stage directions, sets, and anatomically possible bodies. I found that effort worth it. Once I read them in that way I really enjoyed them.

Click here to read my advice on how to buy the books and most importantly, the correct order to read them to get the most out of them.

So, go for it. Buy the books. Read them. Enjoy them. Learn from them. Then, come back and let’s talk about Chiana 😉

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