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The Intergalactic Nemesis

Kevin Noonan | Friday, March 30, 2012

In 1938, Orson Welles incited a countrywide riot with his radio-play adaption of H.G. Wells’ science fiction classic, “War of the Worlds.” Around the same time was the boom of the graphic novel.

Those forms of media have somewhat died out through the years, as technology has advanced, but for artists like Jason Neulander, they remain a continuing source of inspiration for unique storytelling techniques.

Neulander’s show, “Intergalactic Nemesis,” which he created and stars in, combines the two into a one-of-a-kind live-action graphic novel.

His performance consists of a full graphic novel of over 1,000 frames projected onto a screen behind the stage, three voice actors who provide the speech for all characters in the show, a foley artist who makes the sound effects on stage for the audience to see and a pianist who performs the score live.

“We’ve created a comic book series to tell the story, and we project the art work from those books, panel by panel, without the word balloons. It’s a total one-of-a-kind [show]. There’s really isn’t anything else like it out there at all,” Neulander said.

The story not only combines the presentation techniques of a radio play and graphic novel, but the plot structure as well. Like many of the pulp fiction stories of the early 1900s, “Nemesis” is a science fiction adventure following a hero who must save a damsel in distress. But the story is far more than it might seem.

“The show definitely has a broader appeal than just comic book fans. It really is like an homage to and embracing of the storytelling that ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ had. If you’re a fan of imagination and adventures and fun, and you like to laugh, then the ‘Intergalactic Nemesis’ is probably a show for you,” Neulander said.

“Now if you’re one of the people that doesn’t like fun and if you don’t like to laugh, then you’re probably clear.”

The idea for the show came to Neulander in an epiphany, when he realized he needed to do something a little different in order to entertain large audiences.

“This actually started as a radio play, and I got invited to bring it into this 2,400-seat theater in Austin, and I just felt that venue was too big for the experience of watching a radio play be performed. And so it kind of hit me in a flash, the idea of projecting comic book artwork to tell the story visually,” Neulander said.

And the audiences loved it.

“I have been producing and directing plays for about 20 years, and no one has responded to anything I’ve ever done the way audiences respond to this. It’s amazing.”

“Intergalactic Nemesis” will be performed in the Leighton Concert Hall in the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 for students.