The Back to the Future series is unique among movie trilogies. Beyond the chapters designed by its original creators, writer-producer Bob Gale and writer-director Robert Zemeckis, it’s never been remade, rebooted, or continued. (Unless you count the short-lived animated series that ran between ’91 and ’93… but you don’t have to.) To the delight of its many fans, both Gale and Zemeckis have recently approved of new Back to the Future stories that flesh out the three films Universal released in 1985, 1989, and 1990. With Telltale Games’ Back to the Future: The Game and IDW’s ongoing Back to the Future comic book series.
Originally conceived as a five-issue miniseries that would shine a light on events that took place before and between the original big-screen installments, the Back to the Future comic continues as an ongoing monthly with the release of this week’s sixth issue, co-written by Gale himself.
“We told stories between the panels, if you will,” says the filmmaker of the series’ first five issues. “It was our version of the Untold Tales of Spider-Man series that Kurt Busiek did many years ago. That seemed like a good approach. It felt like we were filling in as opposed to doing Back to the Future Part IV.”
Now with issue 6, fans are wondering if the series will move beyond the events of the film saga.
“Yes and no,” says Gale, speaking with Nerdist from his home in California. “Issue six is really a continuation of what went on in issue five. Even though it moves forward in terms of us seeing stuff that’s going on in Marty’s life in 1986, it’s still filling in some holes. [Writer] John Barber [is] really, really turning out to be a terrific choice to be involved. He’s exceeded all of my expectations in terms of him really getting what Back to the Future is about and really coming up with a lot of smart and clever ideas. It’ll be interesting to see how fans react to this.”
Over the years, Gale and Zemeckis accumulated a handful of ideas that they didn’t have a chance to implement in the original film trilogy, including answers to questions like how Doc’s house burnt down and how Doc and Marty met. Such answers have finally found their way into the IDW series.
In addition to new stories, IDW is adapting the Back to the Future video game, which also moves chronologically forward from the original series.
“In that series, Bob Zemeckis and I had really thought about the idea of taking our characters back to the 1920s and 1930s and meeting Doc Brown’s family, which is one of the aspects of that series. So there’s a lot of stuff that we’ve kicked around over the years that we’re getting a chance to explore in these IDW books. And new stuff that’s being contributed by John and by [co-writer] Erik Burnham. I’m just spitballing with these guys and asking questions, like ‘Where did Doc Brown get enough money to do a hover conversion on the DeLorean?’ We came up with an answer to that in issue four.”
With so many new Back to the Future stories, some fans are wondering which ones should be considered canon. Gale prefers we not worry too much.
“I don’t like to use that word ‘canon,'” he laughs. “Because it’s fiction. As I said in the text piece I wrote in issue one, when you’ve got a time machine, everything is canon and nothing is canon. So I prefer to say [that] the IDW series is a way to tell some entertaining stories with characters that everybody loves from the movies, and let’s leave it at that. You may be such a fanatic that you consider Back the Future your religion, but the word ‘canon’… Let’s leave that to the major religions of the world and not use it to describe a piece of entertainment like Back to the Future.”
Hardcore Future fans will want to catch Gale when he appears at June’s Wizard World Philadelphia convention, alongside the film’s stars Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, and Lea Thompson.
“We’ve seen all the love that the world has for continuing these movies,” laughs Gale. “I went to one of the first comic conventions in New York in 1968, and I don’t think anybody at that point thought that this would be something that would go on and on and on. It’s turned out to be a win-win for everybody.”
Are you a Back to the Future fan? What do you think of the new IDW series? Let us know below!
Images: IDW, Universal