“Big Trouble in Little China” remains a beloved ’80s action movie classic, and now it lives on as a newly launched comic book series from BOOM! Studios. At Comic-Con International 2014 in San Diego, writer Eric Powell (“The Goon”) and colorist Michael Garland (“The Empty Man”), along with editor Ian Brill (“Darkwing Duck”) spoke about what is coming up next for Jack Burton and his Pork Chop Express truck.
Things began with the creators discussing how they first encountered the film. “I don’t remember,” Powell said, but he had watched the movie over and over again over the years. Garland admitted, “I’ll probably get booed for this,” but he never saw the full movie until he got the coloring assignment on the book. Brill remembers being a small child in Los Angeles and seeing a promo on television showing one of the elemental wizards in the film blowing themself up, an over the top scene, and from there he watched the movie repeatedly on reruns.
Powell, while not able to remember the exact first time he saw the film, has always been a fan of the movie. When he was approached about the writing job he knew immediately, “I can write Jack Burton,” the main character from the film played by Kurt Russell. “You got the voice from page 1,” Brill said.
Everyone on the panel loved the art of the series, praising artist Brian Churilla. Powell shared, “Brian does a great job of caricature. Cartoony, but it’s not over the top.”
Of course, for many the legacy of “Big Trouble” comes with from its initial creative force. “Before I signed, we had a meeting,” Powell said about director John Carpenter. They stay in touch through e-mails, the director helping the writer with any questions he may have about the franchise. “He’s a nice guy,” he said.
One fan in attendance shared his love for the movie and film, but admitted he had a small problem with Jack Burton referencing a supernatural adventure that took before the timeline of the movie. The fan felt it took away from the “clueless, regular guy” quality of the lead character. Powell explained that the key part of the character is his cluelessness, “He’s a truck driver, he’s been around, he’s seen some things,” but the character was always just clueless about everything, especially the supernatural.
Powell praised the coloring of the book and the work Garland does, asking the colorist how he went about choosing the bright color palette. Referencing a key set piece from the latter half of the movie, Garland said, “The neon skull is the best way to look at it metaphorically….It’s ancient, but it’s neon!”
Asked if the new comic series could possibly lead to or be the basis of a new movie sequel, Brill said, “It’s not up to us, we’ve had no indication from Fox,” the studio behind the movie. The panelists joked that Kurt Russell still looks good, and it would be funny that if they did a sequel with Russell that picks up directly after the first film, and they make no reference to the fact the character he has seemingly aged 30 years in no time at all.
Powell is signed to write 12 issues of the new series, but the series will continue, “As long as you keep buying it,” Brill shared.
As the panel winded down, Chris Sebela (“Dead Letters”) joined the stage, the writer having just been announced as writer of another comic series based on a Kurt Russell film, “Escape From New York.” The new series takes place minutes after the end of the movie, and the first arc will be called, “Escape From Florida.” An artist will be announced soon.
Sebela said it was the fastest he has ever replied to an e-mail when he was first offered the writing gig, sharing how months before he had joked with BOOM! Studios, “If you guys ever get another John Carpenter property, you better let me try out for it or I’ll never write for you again.” It was a lie he admitted, but it paid off.
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