J. Torres Talks "WALL-E" at BOOM!

BOOM! Studios' recently released solicitations for November-shipping books revealed a new "WALL-E" ongoing series, based on the popular Disney/Pixar animated film. The first four-issue arc will be written by J. Torres with art by Morgan Luthi, and each installment will stand alone as a complete story. The new series will take place before the events seen in "WALL-E." CBR News caught up with Torres to discuss the new comic.

Pixar's "WALL-E" began on an inhospitable Earth, where even the robots assigned to clean up the ecologically devasted planet have ceased to function. One WALL-E model robot survives, though, carrying out his duties in his own idiosyncratic fashion, with only a friendly cockroach to keep him company. Eventually, circumstances lead the robot to meet a more advanced droid named EVE and venture to a spaceship where the last human survivors dwell lazily.

One notable feature of "WALL-E" was that it was largely without dialogue, as the two main characters communicated using only a select few words, including their names. "'WALL-E' is a very visual comic, much like the first act of the movie in which there's very little 'dialogue,'" Torres told CBR. "So, think of comics like 'Gon' or 'Owly' or 'Actions Speak' by Sergio Aragones. Although, I do use more sound effects. The sound design in the movie was terrific and I actually love using sound effects, especially in comics aimed at kids. Makes them fun to read out loud."

This silence, though, adds an additional challenge to characterization. "It's not like WALL-E can monologue about who he is, his situation, his hopes and dreams, etc. We really have to show it in his actions and acting," Torres explained. "Morgan Luthi does most of the heavy lifting on this project and I have to admit I was a bit nervous about whether or not he, or any other artist, could pull off the kind of storytelling needed for this, but he really knocked it out of the park. I can't wait for people to see what he's done."

Together with Luthi, Torres hopes to make a comic book interpretation of "WALL-E" that is true to the original film. "It's all about WALL-E's gestures and acting and ability to emote without saying much," the writer said. "I really 'studied' the movie, particularly the way WALL-E communicated to the audience, and I poured over books like 'The Art of WALL-E' and different picture books and the like to see how other artists made WALL-E express himself. I put as much of what I learned into the script, and even made screen grabs for reference, and I shared what I could with Morgan who I know did his research as well. Morgan is a terrific storyteller and artist as he proved in 'Snow,' so it's no wonder he really made the script come to life and make me look good."

The "WALL-E" movie was seen to have strong political messages dealing with environmentalism and wasteful consumerism. Torres said that where these messages existed, they were secondary to the story being told. "The thing is, the creators of 'WALL-E' have said that they didn't really plan on making any political statements with the film. It apparently all started with the simple concept of 'the last robot on earth,'" Torres explained. "They decided he would be a trash compacting robot and it went from there. I'm not saying there isn't a message there, one that's become more and more relevant since they started developing 'WALL-E,' but the lesson is really more about the character's arc and growth, you know what I mean? It's the same in the comic book. Despite the title 'Trash Planet,' it's more of a coming-of-age story for WALL-E than a morality play about the environment. But I do drive a hybrid and use reusable shopping bags and bins!"

Since Torres's four issues take place before the movie, the "WALL-E" comic series will allow fans to see a bit about how WALL-E came to be the last robot on Earth. "Issue #1 opens with a handful of WALL-E units still doing their thing, but as the story progresses they all 'expire' except the WALL-E," the writer told CBR. "I tried to show at least a couple of different ways the robots come to an end. There's a shot at the beginning of the movie that shows WALL-E driving past a kind of graveyard of robots and that always made me wonder - did they call just run out of power? break down? get taken out by a tornado or rainstorm?"

Of course, the time frame of the series also means that Earth is inhospitable to life and that WALL-E has yet to meet his cute furturistic companion, EVE. Torres confirmed that neither EVE nor humans would be appearing in his first arc, but suggested future creative teams may choose to work with these characters. Said Torres, "If I get to do another story, I'd love to do something involving EVE's exploration or BURN-E and the other robots' lives on the Axiom."

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