In the upcoming giant-monsters-versus-giant-robots film Pacific Rim, the audience is tossed into the slugfest years after it's been raging. But to flesh out this grimy world where the human race fights for its own survival on the daily, the minds behind Pacific Rim are collaborating on a graphic novel prequel.
And at New York Comic Con, io9 spoke exclusively with Pacific Rim director Guillermo del Toro and screenwriter Travis Beacham about their love letter to kaiju cinema.
Guillermo adapted his previous work on The Strain to comics over with Dark Horse — what was the process here to bring Pacific Rim to comics?
Travis Beacham: It was just talking a lot about the history of this world we've already developed. We didn't want it to be a straight up adaptation of Pacific Rim. We wanted it to be that you could go to the comic shop and read about the back story of Pacific Rim and the drama inherent in it. The cast of the movie are insinuated in the comic books. It's divided into three segments, each focusing on a different component of the history. Some characters will make cameos.
Did any ideas that didn't make it to Pacific Rim pop in the comic?
Guillermo del Toro: Yeah, definitely!
Travis Beacham: Especially the first Kaiju attack, which is so formative to this world. We see it in the movie, but very briefly. In the comic book, it's a whole event we decompress and explore, as this sort of post-9/11 that creates this world.
Does the comic book have an artist yet?
Guillermo del Toro: We are finishing the deal at the moment, so we're not in the position to reveal that.
Is the artist having free rein with the Kaiju and Jaegers?
Guillermo del Toro: No, but they have complete freedom of execution. We are creating a new Jaeger for the comic, yes, but they have to feel like the belong within this world.
So far the Kaiju have been kept under wraps. Can you give us any sort of hints about the look and kaiju traditions that informed their look?
Guillermo del Toro: Kaiju are obviously an entire genre in Asia — they range from the most whimsical to the most quote-unquote reality-based. You can have an octopus, a moth, a rooster, or Frankenstein's Monster be a kaiju. But we tried to design them so that they feel steeped in the tradition, but not like any kaiju you've ever seen. We didn't want to make homages.
Guillermo del Toro: No, they are not nice! When one of my areas of geekdom is biology, marine biology. I tried to make the Kaiju somewhat plausible. When we developed Mimic, all of the elements of the creature were run by the Department of Entomology in Los Angeles, and they all checked out. I feel pretty okay with my bullshitting of biology here. Two great things happened after Mimic. First, there was a species of insect named after the movie. Stephen Jay Gould also used to use Mimic as a bonus question! I feel pretty confident geeking out in biology.
How about the technology of the Jaegers?
Guillermo del Toro: I geeked out with [Legendary Pictures CEO] Thomas Tull about the high-tech weaponry. He's the geekiest studio head you'll ever meet. We're definitely referencing assembly line motors, DARPA jet-fighter-style communication systems, neural connections with machines — all research or technology that exists.