Love Jaegers? Dig Kaiju? Then you’re in for a treat. This month sees the debut of Legendary Comics’ four-issue Pacific Rim: Tales from the Drift, scripted by Joshua Hale Fialkov with a story by Pacific Rim screenwriter Travis Beacham and art by Marcos Marz. Like the preceding Pacific Rim: Tales from Year Zero (also written by Beacham), Tales from the Drift serves as a prequel to director Guillermo del Toro’s cult favorite, and looks at the early days of the Jaeger program as it confronts the terrifying menace of the earth-threatening Kaiju. We caught up with Beacham to get the lowdown on the book, as well as the sequel film Pacific Rim: Maelstrom and the future of the entire Pacific Rim franchise…
Nerdist: How did Pacific Rim: Tales from the Drift come about?
Travis Beacham: This involves characters that have always been part of the mythology, since even before the movie came out. I’m talking about Duc and Kaori, the crew of the Tacit Ronin, which is one of the first Jaegers. So they’ve always been part of the bible and the backstory of the world, since before the movie came out. It’s a small story with more intimate stakes than the movie, but nevertheless a story that I’ve been really interested in telling. So it’s very gratifying to see it all come together now in the comic.
N: How would you describe the story?
TB: This is actually set before the movie, but after the first graphic novel, Tales from Year Zero. This is a world in which the Jaegers are still very new and the threat of the Kaiju is still relatively new. We’re talking Category 3. Nobody’s really seen Category 4’s or 5’s yet. It’s still the early hardscrabble days of the program, and they’re still trying to figure out how all this works and how the drift is going to work and that sort of thing. So that’s where we’re coming into the story here. And with Duc and Kaori, who are the essential two characters, you have a pair of characters that are actually pretty different from Raleigh and Mako, because the movie is much more about friendship and family and that sort of thing. The arc of this comic book is a story that’s much more pointedly a love story between these two characters. So I think it’s very exciting.
N: What can you tell us us about your artist on the book?
TB: Marcos [Marz], he’s fantastic. I really love the stuff that he’s put out. Tacit Ronin in particular, as a Jaeger, has had this very lean, charismatic design that’s a big difference from the other Jaegers, but is going to be a bit faster than some of the other ones. I think his style captures the dynamism of that design and really compliments it very well. Obviously there are gonna be big, sprawling splash pages where everything is moving very fast and nimbly. That’s something I really like.
N: With this story and the previous comic you’re delving deeper into the mythos of this universe. How much of that universe has already been conceived? Did you write a ton of backstory for the first film?
TB: Oh yeah. When we did the first film there was a big, thick world bible that went along with it, that detailed to some extent all the years leading up to the film. Because the film actually begins in earnest pretty well into the whole conflict. And actually a bit towards the tail end of it. So there’s a plethora of other pilots and other Jaegers that haven’t even been mentioned, but their names are recorded in the world bible. We have every battle that’s happened in the backstory. We know where and when it took place. We have names for all the Jaegers. We know who their crews are. So yeah, there’s a pretty rich backstory of material to draw from from and many stories that we can tell from this point on.
N: What’s next for you?
TB: I just directed a short film called The Curiosity, which is based on an idea that I had. I really just wanted to jump in and direct my own material and challenge myself until I found out what my next step was. Where do you go after something like Pacific Rim? Which for me was such a moment, to have this thing and see it all come together, and it’s big and it has this cult following… You ask yourself, “What’s next?” I just felt like I had to find some way to move beyond writing. The film I’m hoping to [develop] into a series or a feature, which is just a really exciting possibility. I’ve been really impressed with all the people that I’ve worked with and how it’s turned out. It’s really, really beautiful, and I can’t wait to show it to people.
After that, there’s a couple of TV shows in the works, including a sci-fi thing called Ballistic City, that we’re trying to put together, and another TV show called Carnival Row, which is actually based on the first script that I sold, which Guillermo is producing and Rene Echevarria is showrunning for Amazon. So that’s another thing that I’m working on right now.
The best way to describe Carnival Row is it’s kind of a Jack-the-Ripperesque murder mystery in this pseudo-Victorian universe that’s not our world but is sort of analogous to Victorian times and is populated by a host of mythological creatures in this very Dickensian, soot-stained urban setting. It follows the investigations of a human detective in this world, a human detective and this string of murders that exposes a larger conspiracy. It’s one of the first things I’d ever written, and still one of the best in my own estimation. But it’s fun to see it coming together as a TV series, because when I first wrote it the idea of doing it as a TV series wouldn’t have seemed like something that was possible. But television has changed so much in the intervening years that it’s become the most exciting possibility for it.
N: Can you share any kind of status report on Pacific Rim 2?
TB: There’s not really one that I can share. I can just say that if I were betting on it, I wouldn’t bet on it as necessarily being dead. I think it’s literally sort of indefinite. It could still happen. But as far as how the decision’s going to be made, it’s sort of above my pay grade. But we’ll see.
N: Guillermo recently tweeted he’d turned in the complete script and budget and was just waiting to see if anything happens.
TB: Yeah. But I think even if it doesn’t, there’s still a possibility that it will come together, a relatively strong possibility. Nothing’s for certain in this industry. But even if it falls apart, I think there are opportunities to tell more stories that take place in this universe. Whether in graphic novels or in books or animated series. I think that Legendary’s still very much into that. I think it will be a while before Pacific Rim lies dormant. We can look forward to more stories from that universe pretty assuredly.
N: In writing Pacific Rim, did you develop much mythology beyond the time of the film, or will most of that be developed on a film-by-film basis?
TB: That’s more of a film-by-film basis sort of thing. We have a kind of loose idea where it would go after the first film. But as far as what’s been mapped out before and what hasn’t, it’s the years after the film that are a bit more amorphous. That’s sort of intentional, because when you’re putting a film together and putting a script together it helps to have a lot of room to discover the trajectory and invent things as you’re doing it rather than being bound to some rigid plan. So, I think it was always our idea to map out the backstory and leave some sandbox room to play around in, some frontier to be yet discovered. I think that’s the world that the sequels would live in.
Enjoy a gallery of Exclusive images below!
Image Credits: Legendary Comics
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