MST3K Steps into Comics

Mystery Science Theatre 3000: The Comic (MST3K) (Dark Horse, 2018)

If she could, Felicia Day would want to step into a Care Bears comic book. Day, who plays mad scientist Kinga Forrester in the Mystery Science Theatre 3000 revival, decided this was the happier, safer option compared to jumping into superhero comics. Gotham City? Metropolis? Death traps! All of them!

Stepping into comics is the premise of the new Mystery Science Theatre 3000 comic book, which Dark Horse Comics will release in September. While the show maintains the original focus of mad scientists trapping a hapless janitor in a spaceship and forcing him to watch cheesy B-movies alongside his robot friends, the comic adds a new twist with Kinga introducing an experiment that puts the subject right into cheesy old comics.

Mystery Science Theatre 3000: The Comic (MST3K) (Dark Horse, 2018)

In the Netflix series, Jonah Heston, the janitor, spends his time riffing the movies he and his companions are forced to watch. The format didn’t quite work as well with comics, though, noted MST3K The Comic’s letterer Michael Heisler. Joel Hodgson, the creator of the show and main writer of the comic, did attempt it for a few pages. The riffing of comic book panels was funny, explained Heisler, but something was lost in the static nature of the medium. This prompted the twist on the mad scientist’s machinations and my question: if you could get ahold of Kinga’s device, what comic would you want to step into?

Upon further thought, Day stood firm with the Care Bears, though she briefly considered dropping in a Joelle Jones comic, because she loves the way Jones has drawn her in the past. Meanwhile, Heisler and Todd Nauck, who is living his dream as the artist on MST3K, a show he has been a fan of since it originally aired in 1988, were a bit braver. Daring the violence and misery of superhero comics, Heisler decided that he would want to step into a Jack Kirby comic, though his reasons are more technical. “I want to see the Kirby machine at work,” he explained.

Nauck felt the risk of jumping into the ‘80s X-Men would be worth it. After all, it’s the X-Men. If he dies, he just has to wait a few months for the inevitable resurrection.

In the MST3K comic, subjects become characters within the stories they are inserted into, even altering the story somewhat through the dialogue. The series’ signature riffing comes from the alterations that are identified with little dots on the word bubbles.

It’s surprising that a comic book accompaniment to the beloved series took so long to become reality, considering the show’s 11 season run and significant cult following. A comic book was not even listed as one of the perks in the Kickstarter that relaunched the series that is now going into its second season on Netflix.

But there’s always more stuff to riff and it’s never too late to do it in whatever form that may take. Right now, that’s by jumping into comics. And in true MST3K fashion, Heisler added a new, bizarre twist to our SDCC interview by asking, “What if we go into the Mystery Science Theatre 3000 comic?”

Unfortunately, while we all pondered this prospect, we ran out of time, so that’s an ouroboros that will remain a mystery…

Besides, it’s just a comic… we should really just relax.

Wendy Browne

Wendy Browne

Publisher, mother, geek, executive assistant sith, gamer, writer, lazy succubus, blogger, bibliophile. Not necessarily in that order.