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Wired: Frank Black is Back – A Literary Return for Millennium

Frank Black is Back – A Literary Return for Millennium
Sophie Brown

[Original here]

Nearly every geek on the planet is at least aware of Chris Carter’s international hit show The X-Files which dominated popular culture in the mid 90s, but perhaps fewer are aware of the show’s two spin-off shows: The Lone Gunmen and Millennium. Whilst TLG was a true spin-off that expanded the world of existing characters, Millennium was a show in its own right that just happened to co-exist in the same universe that Mulder and Scully inhabited. Although it never gained the popularity of its predecessor, Millennium became a cult hit with fans and critics alike and ran for three seasons. Now Fourth Horseman Press has released a book, Back to Frank Black, exploring the series with the collaboration of many people involved with the show.

Millennium followed Frank Black (Lance Henriksen), a retired FBI forensic profiler with an uncanny gift — the ability to see into the minds of serial killers. The show takes places in the run up to the year 2000 and began with Frank working for the Millennium Group whose agenda was gradually explored as the show progressed. Season one mostly focused on Black using his gift to track down serial killers and murderers, the general tone of the show being much darker than The X-Files, in fact it was occasionally referred to as “The X-Files for adults”. As the show progressed, the sinister intentions of the Millennium Group were gradually revealed and the show’s mythology grew as the forces Frank faced became even darker and his personal life was shattered. The final season saw Frank return to work with the FBI and gain a new partner, Emma Hollis (Klea Scott) as the Group’s power grew ever stronger. Sadly for fans, Millennium never received a true finale of its own; instead Frank was brought in for a single episode of The X-Files (cunningly titled “Millennium”) during which Mulder and Scully helped him tie up the events of his own show and provide some resolution.

This new book aims to offer fans a complete look at the show with an enormous amount of new material (over 500 pages) including entries from Lance Henriksen himself along with creator Chris Carter and co-executive producer Frank Spotnitz. Also included are a number of essays by both people involved in the show and authors with in-depth knowledge, including Brittany Tiplady, who played Frank’s daughter Jordan, and Joseph Maddrey, co-author of Lance Henriksen’s autobiography Not Bad For a Human. The book is edited by Adam Chamberlain and Brian A. Dixon, both publishers for Fourth Horseman Press and consultants to the Back to Frank Black campaign which is pushing for Frank Black’s return to our screens in some form. The book itself will not be sold for profit; all proceeds from sales will instead be donated to Lance Henriksen’s chosen charity, Children of The Night.

I was able to talk to Adam about the book and the campaign for Frank’s return last month. Here’s what he had to say:


Millennium Series Premiere Promotional Poster © Fox via Fourth Horseman Press

Millennium Series Premiere Promotional Poster © Fox via Fourth Horseman Press

How did you first discover Millennium?
I was already a huge fan of The X-Files from the start, and so had the same sense of eager anticipation when Millennium first aired in the UK, and took to the series from its very first episode. It was not always a simple task to follow its original run in the UK as it was poorly treated in the schedules — I believe I saw most of season one either on ITV or via the VHS releases, season two on Sky One, and then had to wait for the DVD box set to see the bulk of season three! The dark tone and subject matter both appealed to me and I already had huge respect for Chris Carter’s work, so it was an easy sell, and I wasn’t disappointed.

There are a lot of crime shows out there and a lot of shows about the supernatural, what makes Millennium stand out to you?
Millennium is utterly unique in the crime genre, particularly in the way it incorporates interpretations and explorations of evil into its evolving mythology. No series before or since has really dared to explore the nature of human evil in such depth or breadth. And Frank Black is a unique protagonist: a man of deeply-rooted principles and unparalleled insight who endures the weight of the world on behalf of us all. Add to that the considerable combined talents of its writers, producers, cast and crew all enriching the tapestry of the series, and it really is a perfect storm.

Where did the idea for the Back to Frank Black book begin?
The idea to put out a book was first floated to Brian A. Dixon and I by James McLean and Troy Foreman — who run the Back to Frank Black campaign — just over year ago. We had already worked with them on a few projects for the campaign by this point, Fourth Horseman Press was well-established by Brian, and through it we both had some considerable experience in editing and publishing, so it was a good fit.

Can you tell us about the most difficult obstacle you overcame in creating the book?
Time. We were obviously eager to make the book as comprehensive and of the highest quality as possible, but at the same time the Back to Frank Black campaign has a certain momentum, of which this book forms a part, so inevitably it was a balancing act between the two. It has taken us a year to put the book together from start to finish and we are very happy with the results, but in all honesty we couldn’t have produced it any quicker!

You have forewords from Chris Carter, Frank Spotnitz and Lance Henriksen — how did you go about approaching them and what were their responses to the project?
The groundwork here had really been laid down by Troy and James through the Back to Frank Black campaign. They had already established good relationships with Carter, Spotnitz, and especially Lance Henriksen, who has worked very closely with us all on the campaign for some time now. So really it is testament both to the rapport and respect between the campaign and each of them, as well as to the value they place on Millennium and their enduring interest in the series. When it came to inviting their contributions to the book, all we had to do was ask! Each of them continues to be very supportive of the campaign and the book, and to be extremely generous with their time.

The Cover of Back to Frank Black © Fourth Horseman Press

The Cover of Back to Frank Black © Fourth Horseman Press

Which parts of the book were you most excited about obtaining?
The forewords from Lance Henriksen and Frank Spotnitz, and Chris Carter’s introduction are clearly highlights; we are so pleased to have each of them set down in their own words the relevance of Millennium to them, both during the series’ run and now. Added to that, we were particularly pleased to be able to interview Robert McLachlan, the director of cinematography who worked on all three seasons and was so integral to the signature look and tone of the series. He is always in huge demand and invariably on one or other punishing filming schedule, but I managed to grab some time from him directly after one project finished and just before he flew out to Ireland to work on the next season of Game of Thrones. Also, with the book now finalized it is just immensely satisfying to view it in its entirety. We have a wide range of talented contributors, and probably the most satisfying thing of all is to be able to appreciate the sum total of the collaboration of everyone involved.

The cover was drawn by Matthew Ingles. How did he become attached to the project?
The cover artwork from Matthew Ingles really fell into our laps. Just as we were beginning to plan the book and before we had even announced it, Matthew posted the image to the campaign’s Facebook page, both Brian and myself saw it and, independently of one another, knew it would be perfect. As with everyone involved, he was very happy to contribute, and I think the fact he was moved to create the piece in the first place is just another example of how Millennium continues to be a source of inspiration to so many.

The book is a non-profit endeavor. Can you tell us about where the profits will go and how that was decided?
All proceeds from the book will be donated to Children of the Night, a registered US charity dedicated to rescuing children from prostitution. Lance has always been very specific about wanting to support charities that benefit children in some way; specifically this has included Children of the Night through Back to Frank Black. Previously, in 2010, the campaign auctioned off his personal collection of scripts from movies he has appeared in throughout his career, alongside a number of other items donated by cast and crew.

The Millennium Group Logo © Fox/Fourth Horseman Press

The Millennium Group Logo © Fox/Fourth Horseman Press

Was there anything you discovered in researching the book that you found particularly interesting or that surprised you?
There are two points that really struck me in this regard. The first came from researching and writing my own essay, which is about the manifestations of evil across the series. I had always maintained an interest in the subject matter — I was very much influenced to undertake a degree in psychology, including a year spent exclusively on criminology, as a direct result of Millennium — but in delving back into that darkness alongside revisiting many episodes in such detail, I deepened my respect for the series yet further and discovered fresh perspectives on its content. Secondly, and leading on from that, it is a surprise to us that there is something of a dearth of critical analysis of the series published to date. Millennium undoubtedly has an intelligence to it that cries out for in-depth study and interpretation, and yet it has been largely overlooked. It would be a mistake to view the series as merely a child of pre-millennial angst and therefore no longer relevant; if anything, it feels even more resonant in today’s violent and uncertain times. Even if we were to set aside the ambitions of the campaign for a moment, publishing this book feels to us like a long-deserved and worthy endeavor on behalf of everyone who had a hand in the series. It fills that void, and we hope it will therefore appeal to the series’ enduring legion of fans as well as to those previously unfamiliar with the series and exploring it for the first time.

Back to Frank Black is also the name for your campaign to bring back Millennium. Can you tell us more about the campaign?
The Back to Frank Black campaign was started four years ago by James McLean, and he was joined in the endeavor by Troy Foreman shortly thereafter. What sets it apart from other fan campaigns is not only in its global fanbase of support — its signature podcast earns downloads from some seventy-five countries — but moreover the level of involvement from those who worked on the series. Lance Henriksen continues to do a huge amount to support us, and a considerable number of the main cast and crew have offered interviews, donated items and offered their support in a host of other ways. That makes the campaign unique in fandom and, as much as anything else, their support and eagerness to return to Millennium is what continues to drive us in turn.

How would you personally like to see the show brought back? A new season, a movie, a comic book series?
For me, the most viable and interesting ways would be a movie — either for the big or small screen — or as a mini-series through a cable network. Back to Frank Black campaigns specifically for a movie, and this would seem the most appealing and likely format, broadening the canvas from the confines of network television. Chris Carter has already hinted at ways in which he might achieve this in a movie, which he mentions in the book.

Do you have anything else you’d like to say?
After many months working on it behind closed doors, we are just really excited to have the book out there so that everyone can read it. Millennium has been a huge influence on both Brian and myself, creatively and in other ways, and in fact both our friendship and our creative partnership are very much founded in a mutual appreciation for the series. If there was ever any production we wanted to write about or for which we wished to compile and edit a book, Millennium is it. We very much hope the book will attract more and more interest such that it furthers the ambitions of the Back to Frank Black campaign, but it also stands on its own as a long overdue analysis of and testament to the truly unique, intelligent and remarkable body of work that is Millennium.

You can order your own copy of Back to Frank Black at Fourth Horseman Press, other retailers will be stocking the book shortly and a review will be here on GeekMom later this month.

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