The post-apocalyptic landscape is most often depicted in comics, film and prose as one of endless miles of desert or limitless depths of sea. Yet the most realistic road the planet is likely to take on its way to oblivion is made of neither water nor sand, but of ice. Such is the world of "North Wind," the new mini-series from BOOM! Studios that finds humanity two hundred years into the next ice age. A mythic, sci-fi revenge epic in the tradition of "Star Wars" and the "Mad Max" trilogy, "North Wind" is written by David DiGilio, creator of ABC's "Traveler," the new serial thriller that debuts in "Lost's" timeslot later this year. CBR News spoke with the writer about "North Wind," "Traveler," and what flaming nunchuks have to do with the future of planet Earth.
In "North Wind," the world of the future is buried beneath hundreds of feet of ice. Society has splintered into three groups: Outcasts, who live on the surface; Scavengers, who survive by uncovering buried cities; and Skinrunners, who are nomadic traders living entirely on that which nature has left to offer. The story of "North Wind" revolves around Pak, a very young boy living in a peaceful Outcast village on the ice cliffs of Los Angeles. The Outcast community is a self-sufficient one, having harnessed the power of the north wind with futuristic windmills. A group of Scavengers who live nearby, jealous of the Outcast's way of life, raid and destroy the Outcast's village. Pak's mother and friends are all killed, but his life is saved by the Skinrunner, an aging nomad who's come to Los Angeles in search of an apprentice.
After learning the weapons and ways of the Skinruner, which includes mastery of the flaming nunchuck (the Skinrunner weapon of choice), Pak returns to Los Angeles to exact revenge on the Scavengers and their villainous leader, Slaughterhouse Joe. Pak's vengeance is interrupted, though, when he learns that his closest friends, the beautiful Schuyler and her father Mulligan, were spared in the Scavenger's attack and remain alive in their subterranean community. Pak vows to return his captured friends to the surface, but it's not as simple as the thinks, for Schuyler's been raised as Slaughterhouse Joe's own daughter .
"The book is constructed as an homage to some of the classic sci-fi films we grew up with," David DiGilio told CBR News. "I love Sci-fi epics that are rooted in present day themes. I remember being a kid in the '80s when the threat of nuclear war was still real and seeing 'Road Warrior' and wondering if that's what my life would become. There's something sobering about that. Well, obviously times have changed, and so have the threats to our way of life. I got to thinking about climate change and ways to wrap those grandiose issues into a popcorn package, and that's when I got the idea for 'North Wind.' You'll hopefully be entertained as you read, and then still be thinking about it at the fridge an hour later."
Indeed, it is impossible to read "North Wind" and not reflect upon the climate situation in the world. But DiGilio doesn't see "North Wind" as a commentary on global climate change itself. "['North Wind' is a] comment on man's general apathy towards the world we live in," DiGilio said. "The mythology that's developed focuses on the 'cycle.' The cycle represents the world's natural pattern of events. People in this post-apocalyptic society realize how inconsequential they are in terms of the larger picture, which is humbling, yet they also know how each choice they make will cause a reaction in the world. Action and consequence. That drives their way of thinking. Something we could all learn from."
The cycle of "North Wind" first manifests itself in the book's prologue, which depicts global warming triggering the next ice age, which sends mankind running to the last bit of warmth left in the world, around the equator. The land-grab ultimately sets off a nuclear war, destroying the planet's only fertile land and damning humanity to the buried cities of the world. "When I was first thinking about this scenario it seemed totally fantastical," DiGilio remarked. "Now it's in government reports everywhere from the Pentagon to the U.N. Pretty frightening."
While post-apocalyptic stories are commonplace in the medium of comics, those set in a world covered in ice and snow are relatively few. "I actually heard ['Mad Max' creator] George Miller interviewed not long ago about his movie 'Happy Feet,' and he raised a good point," said DiGilio. "In a visual world of whites and grays, of enormous barren spaces, your characters can't help but stand out. It's a wonderful palate on which to play out drama and comedy, as the eye goes to the characters' interaction, not the rest of the frame."
David DiGilio first worked with BOOM! Studios a few years ago, on a screenplay adaptation of one of their comic properties. "That project didn't happen," DiGilio explained. "But I remember thinking, these guys know their stuff. I'd been a comic junkie as a kid, and my first meeting as a writer in Hollywood was with Stan Lee. I always carried a desire to re-emerge myself in that world. And when [BOOM! Studios chiefs] Ross [Ritchie] and Andy [Cosby] expressed interest in 'North Wind,' I got my shot. Maybe it was some latent desire for vindication. I took a lot of crap as a kid for reading comics instead of the classics. Guess I always wanted to show my parents I wasn't just dicking around."
DiGilio enjoys a number of passions besides writing comics. He's a father of two, an avid gamer, an occasional drinker, a barbecuer, and a Hollywood writer and producer. "I got my start writing for Disney back in 2001 and wrote a movie for them called 'Eight Below' '06. Don't ask me what happened in between. After the movie went into production, I got an idea for a TV show. It's called 'Traveler,' and I'm happy to report that the show premieres Wednesday, May 30th at 10pm on ABC. We're taking over the 'Lost' timeslot the week after the finale. My show is a serialized thriller in the vain of 'Lost' and 'Heroes.' It's about two friends from graduate school who are framed for a terrorist attack by their roommate. These guys are then forced to go on the run and figure out who their roommate really was and why did he do this to them. The show's a wild one with a great young cast, including Aaron Stanford from the 'X-Men' movies as Will Traveler, the roommate who framed his friends. If you like the 'Bourne' movies and 'Enemy of the State,' you'll dig this ride. And if you're a fan of 'Lost,' '24,' 'Heroes,' and 'Prison break,' your shows will be done by May 30th. Let me be the first to tell you that 'Traveler' will become your new addiction."
"North Wind" ships in June from BOOM! Studios and promises to be one of the publisher's most impressive releases yet. "I think 'North Wind' separates itself by combining old school story telling techniques such as universal themes and complex characters, with new school action sequences and artistic style," DiGilio said. "We're loving the scope of this book. It really is an epic saga, spanning fifteen years and reaching from the cliffs of Santa Monica to the frozen hills of Siberia. Readers will hopefully come to see that world and then get so wrapped up in the characters that they won't want it to be over after five issues."
CBR's Executive Producer Jonah Weiland contributed to this story.
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