“Big Trouble In Little China” comics are coming at you, barreling down like the Pork Chop Express!
After teasing the official news with a piece drawn by Eric Powell, BOOM! Studios officially announced a new comic series based on the 1986 John Carpenter kung-fu film during its ComicsPRO talk. The company also revealed that Powell will write the book, with insight from Carpenter and artwork by “The Sixth Gun: Sons of the Gun” penciler Brian Churilla. To start, Powell is writing a pair of four-issue arcs, but he’s keeping the door open for more.
Fans of the Kurt Russell-starring cult film have been wondering about the continued adventures of Jack Burton and his friends for nearly 30 years. In 2009, Top Cow announced plans for a “Big Trouble” comic, but the project ultimately fell apart. The BOOM! series will pick right up where the film left off, with Wang Chi and Miao Yin attempting to tie the knot even as mysterious forces continue to try to keep them apart.
CBR News spoke with Powell and Churilla about landing the “Big Trouble in Little China” gig, their history with the film and what they have in store for Jack Burton, Plus, both writer and artist give their dream John Carpenter crossover line-ups and share an exclusive look at the series’ covers for its June 4 debut.
CBR News: How did you both get involved with this comic? It seems like a perfect fit, but was it something you pitched to BOOM!, Eric, or something they talked to you about?
Eric Powell: BOOM! approached me. They very hesitantly approached me about it. It almost seemed as if there were feeling me out about it before they asked. I don’t do a lot of work outside of my own projects, but it was one of those that I was like, “Uhm, Jack Burton? Yeah, I could write the shit out of him.”
Brian Churilla: [Editor] Ian Brill hired me. I think he was a fan of “The Secret History of DB Cooper.”
Eric, were the continued adventures of Jack Burton already kicking around in your head, or did they just start to take shape after the book was pitched to you?
Powell: I had a definite vibe that I wanted to go for when they approached me with it. I really wanted to focus on Jack and the Pork Chop Express. He’s a trucker. He gets around. He’s got some stories to tell.
Do you remember watching “Big Trouble In Little China” for the first time? What was the experience like?
Powell: It was in the mix of movies, like the “Road Warrior,” “Conan the Barbarian” and “The Thing” that were in constant rotation on weekend video rentals when I was a kid. I watched it so many times that I can’t really remember the first time. But I’m not sure there has been a year since it has come out that I haven’t watched it.
Churilla: I think I was in junior high. I dunno. I was always a huge fan. All that early Carpenter stuff is genius.
A lot of people have similar experiences to that and are really excited about the comic. What can you tell us about the continuation of that story in the comics?
Powell: It takes place in 1986. No Jack Burton on the internet with a cel phone crap. Yes — it takes place in 1986 and picks up from the very last shot of the film. The rest I’ll leave aÂ surprise.
John Carpenter has said several times that Jack Burton is actually the sidekick of the movie, for the most part. Is that an element you’ll carry over into the comics or will he be more of a full-on hero?
Powell: Jack definitely has the lead role of the comic — not sure I’d call him a hero.
Aside from Jack, what characters from the film will be showing up in this series?
Powell: Egg plays a major role. So does aÂ character from the film that I think willÂ surpriseÂ some people. We’ve also have a few new characters who pop up and aren’t happy with ol’ Jack.
Was it intimidating adding new characters to this beloved mythos?
Powell: No, “Big Trouble” has a very distinctiveÂ feel. I work a lot off of instinctÂ and how the thing makes me feel. If I threw a character in there that wasn’t clicking in that world, I think it would stand out like a sore thumb. This isn’t an intimidating project. It’s fun! I’m not entering in with any reservation.
Brian, is there a particular character in the book that you find yourself enjoy drawing more than you originally thought?
Churilla: Pete. You’ll see who I’m talking about in issue #1.
Eric, what made Brian the right artist for the gig?
Powell: Brian has that great ability to cartoon his characters without getting too far away from realism. He draws some great monsters, too. I’m super excited about collaborating with him!
Brian, what’s it like working with Eric on this book? Is it at all different because he’s also an artist?
Churilla: I like working with a writer who is also an artist; that’s actually the ideal situation for me. Eric understands how to put a book together without bogging it down with tedious, extraneous exposition. It’s easy visualizing the scripts as I read them, which to be honest, are ten times funnier than the movie. That’s not hyperbole — they really are! You can hear Jack Burton speaking the dialogue in your mind as you read it as well. Eric has the character down 100%.
You’re also working with a third collaborator in “Big Trouble” creator John Carpenter. What was it like the first time you talked to John about this comic?
Powell: I was a little nervous, to be honest. I don’t get star struck by people for the most part — but “Escape From New York,” “The Thing,” “Halloween,” “Starman” and so on — he made some of my favorite movies that I grew up on. It was really awesome getting to discuss the book and characters with him in that first meeting. To say we were on the same page with what the book should be would be an understatement.
Carpenter’s work is experiencing a kind of renaissance these days, with so many in-depth interviews and expanded Blu-ray offerings of most of his movies either planned or already in print. Why do you think that’s happening?
Powell: Because they’re great! I think Carpenter is one of those guys that had a bit of an outsider mentality. And that leads to veryÂ distinctiveÂ work that stands the test of time.
Churilla: It’s part nostalgia, but I think that a lot of it has to do with the vast majority of films being produced now are garbage. 1986 was a good year: “Aliens,” “Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2,” “Blue Velvet,” “Big Trouble in Little China.” I honestly knew that off the top of my head. They just don’t make them like that anymore.
Pie-in-the-sky, what other Carpenter characters would you like to write? On a similar note, would you like to cross Jack over with any other Carpenter hero or villain?
Powell: I think Snake Plissken driving Christine in a road trip movie to hunt down The Thing would be great!
Churilla: I would like to do a Jack Burton, Snake Plissken and R.J. MacReady crossover. The trio could take a road trip in Christine across an apocalyptic wasteland, fighting the obligatory mutant ne’er-do-wells along the way.
“Big Trouble in Little China” #1 from Eric Powell, John Carpenter, Brian Churilla and BOOM! Studios hits on June 4.