The latest addition to BOOM! Studios' line of Disney/Pixar comics hit stores this week, exploring the early adventures of the lovable titular robot, Wall-E. Written by J. Torres with art by Morgan Luthi, "Wall-E" #0 sets the stage for an origin story of sorts, showing the first signs of the clean-up robot's sentience and of his brothers' slow decline. CBR News previously spoke with J. Torres about the new series, and now brings you an interview with artist Morgan Luthi about the project.
"I remember being really taken by how emotive Wall-E was - that this almost entirely silent robot, who is little more than a cube, is able to carry the first twenty minutes of the movie on his own with almost no dialogue. Which is obviously a huge credit to the animators at Pixar," Luthi recalled of his first time watching "Wall-E." "Of course, I'm a sucker for post apocalyptic environments. So I thought the idea of an abandoned Earth was pretty cool, too."
On his approach to adapting "Wall-E" to the comic book page, Luthi noted that there is a matter of both style and substance. "Tackling any pre-existing character, especially one as beloved as Wall-E, is a challenge in itself," the artist explained. "For me, translating that Pixar look and feel is a combination of elements. First and foremost, is story. I think a large part of Pixar's success comes from their ability to craft these amazing heartfelt stories, which J. has done here in spades. The art is a close second, and for me, the challenge comes in wanting to recall imagery from the movie so it feels familiar to the reader, and at the same time, put a bit of my own spin on this character and the world he lives in. The thing about Wall-E is that he's a robot. He's manufactured, so his look needs to remain pretty consistent. You can't really 'fib' his look or movements too much, and if you stray too far, he becomes something else. J. has done a fantastic job keeping Wall-E's actions true to his movie persona. I just hope I've drawn him in a way that's unique to my style but still familiar to everyone."
Telling a story with very little text, which is necessary in "Wall-E," puts a lot of the heavy lifting on the artist, but Luthi said that the robotic hero's body language more than makes up for his limited vocabulary. "Honestly, Wall-E's capable of a lot of expression. Even if I don't take too much artistic license in his look, Pixar designed Wall-E with a surprising range of motion," he said. "In going over the reference material Pixar provided, I discovered things about Wall-E that I either wasn't aware he could do, or hadn't originally noticed. Some of it is very subtle, like the way his 'wrists' can extend to become an elongated arm, or how his treads have some horizontal give so he can lean to one side or another. Maybe I'm just stating the obvious here, but Wall-E's eyes, and the lens 'iris,' are naturally very compelling. It doesn't seem like much, but I think when used in different combinations, Wall-E's emotions can be very easily read."
BOOM!'s "Wall-E" comic series takes place some time before the movie, set on a dead Earth upon which even the clean-up robots are beginning to waste away. In issue #0, other Wall-E model droids are still functioning, but the number of robots in operation is dwindling and becomes fewer over the course of the debut issue. "Save for a few things in later issues that I don't want to spoil, Wall-E is largely interacting with himself and his environment," the artist told CBR of our hero's predicament. "This is where J.'s scripts really shine, and it's the other half of what helps to make more convincing character moments. Wall-E can only be so expressive without something to interact with. Luckily, Wall-E has an almost obsessive compulsive love for junk and trinkets, which serves as a springboard into even bigger things..."
Luthi said that editor Paul Morrissey, who had previously worked with him on "Snow" at Tokyopop, recruited him for "Wall-E." "He thought 'Wall-E' would be a good fit for me, and offered me an opportunity to audition for the artist spot," Luthi said. "I did a small two-page color submission where Wall-E visits an abandoned amusement park and scares himself with fun house mirrors. Thankfully, Disney/Pixar liked what I submitted, and the rest is history. Since starting on the issues, I've been working with Aaron Sparrow, who has been equally fantastic."â€¨As to other Pixar characters he'd like a shot at drawing, Luthi said, "how could I not say 'The Incredibles?' Although, I think it would be really awesome to do something with 'A Bug's Life,' too."