Come March, readers will once again return to a cyborg-dominated future in a new three-issue “Terminator” miniseries written by “Dr. Horrible” scribe Zack Whedon with art by Andy MacDonald. Following last year’s relaunches of “Aliens” and “Predator,” the new title will Dark Horse’s first standalone “Terminator” series since 1999’s “The Dark Years.” CBR News spoke with Andy MacDonald, who shared his preliminary sketches for the series, and check back later today for an interview with writer Zack Whedon.
Whedon and MacDonald’s “Terminator” will focus on Kyle Reese, the resistance fighter sent back in time from 2029 to 1984 in the original film to protect Sarah Connor, whose son John Connor is destined to finally defeat the tyrannical machines. A T-800 model Terminator, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, also arrives in the past to assassinate Ms. Connor. Reese dies fulfilling his mission, but not before striking up a romance with Sarah Connor and ultimately fathering John. The Dark Horse series takes place in the future, before Reese has been sent back in time to meet his fate. Reese is joined by two new characters, Ben and Paige, as they fight for survival in a devastated Pasadena.
“Terminators are horrible city planners, but what they do to a human city is a lot of fun to draw,” MacDonald said of the world these characters inhabit. “Cars, trucks, mailboxes, entire streets, anything that might have withstood a nuclear attack has been blown in or onto something else, and it scratches every detail-drawing itch I have. I also like coming up with little stories while I work as to why that delivery truck would be blown into that building or why a certain streetlight is still standing. This first issue comes in at about six or seven stories per panel. The challenge is to keep those stories in the background and not overpower a scene, like some scene-stealing extra waving to the camera. Ideally, I’m making interesting, non-generic backgrounds without stealing focus as a distraction.”
MacDonald recently had the chance to illustrate plenty of such scenes of destruction in the final issue of Rick Remender’s apocalyptic “End League,” and described the joy of drawing big action as “the inspiration from every action movie and comic being unleashed as ink lightning while trying to lasso some of that voltage on the page for the reader. That might be a bit too melodramatic? Possibly. Not to understate, but: It’s exciting as hell,” the artist said. “Zack Whedon’s got a script that feels like I’m sprinting to keep up with its larger-than-life energy. There’s a scene with an HK (that’s Hunter Killer, for the kids who just showed up.) tank that literally made me feel like I had been running while working on it. I hope I’m not spoiling anything here, but there will be explosions.”
In regard to the story’s heroes, MacDonald’s take on Reese is based largely on Michael Biehn’s portrayal of the character in “The Terminator,” but “mostly he’s the Kyle Reese that the story calls for. He’s got a different set of responsibilities in this story than when he’s sent back in time, and hopefully his design reflects those elements,” the artist added.
“I pretty much stuck to the original designs for the T-800. I played around a little bit with the Hunter Killer tanks and planes, but generally kept them as close to the originals as possible,” MacDonald said. He did joke that “after flame paint jobs and subwoofers, there’s not much more you can do and still have them be Terminators. ‘Yo dawg, I heard you liked Terminators!’ Man, I fought every temptation to keep out those flame paint jobs, though.”
The artist also remarked on how well the classic Terminator design holds up. “I’ve had the opportunity to design/draw a couple of robots in books in the past (see: ‘NYC Mech’) and was never truly confident that they would actually be able to move if they were ever built,” MacDonald said. “The Terminator designs work. The articulation, servos, etc. are all there, and it’s amazing to me how functional, simple and menacing they can be. I’m an old softy for the classic destroyers of humanity.” MacDonald added that, at a glance, the most memorable aspect of the T-800 is “those damn glowing eyes. I’ve always been amazed by the teeth, though. What would Skynet make the teeth out of so they look like human teeth? Actual teeth? Painted metal teeth? Maybe I’ve just got a thing about teeth, but it seems creepy, however you look at it.”
As to any as-yet-unrevealed characters that would debut in the series, MacDonald offered “an HK tank that’s had his guns removed and replaced with bullhorns that loop old Bob Hope USO shows. It’s weird, but that guy’s a fresh face for the franchise and a lot of fun,” he joked, before adding, “
MacDonald was happy to share, however, that despite the action expected from a “Terminator” story, the miniseries will also have its share of low-key moments. “I’ve gone on a lot about energy and destruction, but the story has some nice, quieter human scenes, especially between the characters Ben and Paige,” MacDonald said. “There’s fun to be had in the explosions and killer robots, but some of the most enjoyable moments to draw have been between these two.”