Guillermo Del Toro’s “Pacific Rim” promises plenty of sci-fi spectacle pitting robots against monsters, but the visceral “Pan’s Labyrinth” director, an expert when it comes to creating alternative worlds, understands that every nuance of a new universe can’t be detailed on screen in a couple of hours. With that in mind, the filmmaker will release a graphic novel written by the movie’s screenwriter Travis Beacham that will serve as a prequel of sorts to “Pacific Rim” and will be available from Legendary Comics prior to the film’s July 12 release. Hero Complex contributor Jevon Phillips caught up with Del Toro to talk about the new venture, which was announced at New York Comic Con on Thursday, and whether it has the potential to spawn an ongoing series.
HC: Many movies now put out comic-book adaptations of their stories …
GDT: I think those experiments … well, in my experience as a collector, it’s rare that you find a movie adaptation in which anyone really succeeded. They end up being really badly done commercial ventures where you have a not-so-great artist and a not-so-great writer and a not-so-great adaptation at the end of the day. I cannot think of many that have succeeded. I think the one that was the most successful in that regard was [the adaptation of Francis Ford Coppola’s film ‘Bram Stoker’s Dracula’] which was adapted by Mike Mignola. In my opinion, it is in that comic that Mike Mignola gave birth to the graphic style that he used in “Hellboy.” But that’s a real rare occurrence.
HC: So you went a different way, doing it as a prequel?
GDT: The idea was to set up the creation of the world that is in “Pacific Rim,” sort of give the stories and the drama and the science that occurs after the first kaiju makes land in 2013, and what happens when that occurrence is repeated over and over again until we realize that it’s not a single occurrence or a series of occurrences, but a full-on invasion. And that we are going to need to [create] a weapon to deal with a creature that is that big and is not going in a straight line or a diagonal — hitting a target that is a living organism of a scale that has never been seen on Earth. We need to create an equally inventive way to grapple with the creature before it gets more inland. The ingenuity of the creation of Jaegers — the gigantic machines — that are pilot-controlled; the reaction of the kaiju attack; the creation of the academy; the first generation of Jaeger pilots that come out … all of that is set up in the movie, but is not expanded upon. The graphic novel will do that and more.
HC: How involved will you be?
GDT: I try to get involved as much as possible. The first decision that is needed from me is to hire the right artist, the right colorist, the right writer for the books. That’s the part that I think is most important. It’s like directing in the comics…. In “Pacific Rim,” I expect to approve the layout, the pencils, the inking, the coloring, the cover, the script … everything.
HC: How did you select your team? Do you read a lot of comics?
GDT: I buy a lot of comics to this day. Sometimes I buy comics literally just to see the artist or the color artist or if I find a particularly great story line, I follow who the writer is. For example, “Stray Bullets” was a great series, and obviously I have great admiration for the writer. Finding a style of coloring, finding a style of layout … you need to be up-to-speed with what is going on with the comic-book world. You know what you like to read, so that’s what you want to see. You go to the same people that you like to read, or you like to watch, and you help them produce a piece for you.
HC: So, you’d put a lot of thought into the comic book and the world before the events in the movie.
GDT: There is a whole universe that we were talking about when making this movie. I wrote biographies for all of the characters in the film. Those biographies expanded very much where the movie hadn’t…. We ended up generating a document that we called a bible, and that was probably about 100 pages long.
HC: Does a “Pacific Rim” comic book, then, have a continued life after the movie?
GDT: I think so 100%. It’s worth it from the creative point of view. We are not doing just a spinoff, it’s not an ancillary market decision to go to the comic. I created one that allows us to set up and expand and explore things that are spoken of in the movies, but this is another kind of creative important endeavor. One of the things that we did in the movie that I intend to continue/create in the comic book was to convey that this is a real world with real mechanics and real people fixing valves and machines. It’s a livelihood. And hopefully in the comic we can give the fans that set world that’s not changing from panel to panel or from page to page or from issue to issue that you really feel the day-to-day minutiae of what it means to be a mechanic or a pilot or a commanding officer in this world. That would be my most cherished hope.
— Jevon Phillips
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