Summer tentpole season is upon us, as gigantic films with budgets larger than certain European countries’ GDP invade theaters with all manner of superheroes, explosions and over the top action. Of the seriously impressive summer slate, no film has us more excited than Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim. Echoing kaiju classics and anime like Neon Genesis Evangelion, the monster vs. mecha slugfest hits theaters on July 12th. Introducing an original IP in today’s marketplace is an often Sisyphean task, but del Toro and film writer Travis Beacham created so much material for Pacific Rim that they wound up creating an original graphic novel to accompany the film.
Coming to your local comic book store this Wednesday, Legendary Comics’ Pacific Rim: Tales from Year Zero is an epic standalone experience that shows us when the kaiju first emerged and sheds some important light on the film characters’ back stories. Featuring an original cover by Alex Ross, Tales from Year Zero seems like the perfect way to prepare yourself for the impending on-screen awesomeness of Pacific Rim and should prove handy in learning the rather esoteric character names (Raleigh Antrobus? Hannibal Chau? Better make flash cards). To help give you an idea of what you’re in for, I caught up with Guillermo del Toro to get the skinny on what Year Zero is all about.
Nerdist: Tell us about Pacific Rim: Tales From Year Zero. How involved were you in the creation of the original graphic novel and what can we expect?
Guillermo del Toro: Well, what is great about the Pacific Rim comic is that, much like The Strain, I approve the pencils, I approve the layouts, the cover artists, the colors – I’m very much on top of every aspect of creation of this thing. I found it to be a really great way of setting up the characters’ world, the story before the story. I really, really highly recommend the comic because it’s coming out not only as an expansion model to the movie, but it has its own flavor. I think Bob Schreck has done a fantastic job as an editor for Legendary Comics with this one. It will tell the story of most of the main characters and the story leading up to the events of the movie.
N: Is this meant to be a one-shot, or do you plan to continue the series after the film? I understand you’ve done quite a bit of background work on creating this universe. I think I read you have a 100+ page series bible.
GDT: Yeah, we have that and even more, if you dig a little bit, because we did a lot of expansion for the comic. I’d love for it to be an ongoing series. I think you can tell all the stories about the academy where pilots are trained. There’s a whole realm that’s not explored as much in the movie that you could continue expanding on. I wish, I hope that it can keep going.
N: I know that the script of the comic was written by Pacific Rim writer Travis Beacham. Will he be writing the series too, or is it similar to a case like The Strain where you and Chuck Hogan provided the story and David Lapham took over the day-to-day writing duties?
GDT: That depends entirely on him. I mean, Travis did a great job of writing the comic book. He’s very sneaky. He came back with sequences that we omitted from the screenplay. I saw him putting back stuff that I’d taken out, so it was quite fun to see him go behind closed doors and put those things back. But, it’s really up to him.
N: That’s really cool, though, that those sequences didn’t have to wind up on the cutting room floor. The comic gives them a chance to find new life.
GDT: They didn’t even make it to the shooting! He had an entire storyline from the first draft that I discarded completely from the film that he put back in the comic. It just goes to show that the comic will be very different from the film as it stands now, but I’m glad that he was able to put those stories back in there.
N: I know you’re very busy, so I don’t want to keep you. Any last words to leave us with?
GDT: We are preparing a couple of big trailers that are going to hit conventions and movie theaters soon. We’re going to start the campaign now in earnest, heading towards the release, which is in a few weeks. The movie is only a couple weeks away, so expect to see a lot more of Pacific Rim in the coming weeks.
Stay tuned for part two of our Pacific Rim: Tales From Year Zero coverage tomorrow when we interview Pacific Rim and Year Zero writer Travis Beacham! Are you going to pick up the OGN? Let us know in the comments below! (Legendary Pictures owns Legendary Comics and Nerdist Industries; Nerdist.com remains editorially independent)