The screenwriter of “Pacific Rim” shares the back story of the film's massive robots in a graphic novel from Legendary's comics branch.
“Pacific Rim: Tales from Year Zero” is set before the events of the “Pacific Rim” film and is available now. The film is set for a July 12 release. Screenwriter Travis Beacham is joined by artists including Sean Chen, Yvel Guichet, and Pericles Junior, and cover artist Alex Ross. Director Guillermo del Toro was also involved with the graphic novel's production.
In the film, Earth is threatened by an attack of giant monsters. Humanity develops piloted giant robots, called Jaegers, as a line of defense. The film takes place more than a decade into the attacks by the Kaiju. But the graphic novel goes back in time to the early days of the Kaiju attacks.
“In creative terms, the graphic novel, I think, sets up the movie really organically and really beautifully,” Beacham said. “And you learn things about characters in the world that you don't necessarily know from the movie.”
Though the movie is complete in itself, the deeper world in “Pacific Rim” provides the context for the graphic novel; the ideas and stories within came from the process of creating the world for the movie.
“Because there's so much stuff that is just texture, in the movie, but that has to be sort of fleshed out in order for the world to feel real and to have depth,” Beacham said. “So just in creating the world of the movie, we generated so much supplemental material, that when the time came around to talk about the graphic novel, and what that would be about, we decided it would be better than doing a straight-up adaptation, to do something that was additive and utilized some of this mythology that we'd been talking about and that we'd created as supplemental to the movie.”
While the world is the same, the process of creating a graphic novel is a lot different from creating a movie, Beacham said. Beacham, who previously wrote the screenplay for “Clash of the Titans,” said he had to make some adjustments to write for the graphic novel form.
“You have to rewire your brain,” he said. “Because you read a comic book or a graphic novel a lot differently than the way that you watch a movie. So you have to think differently about how it's put together.”
For example, in a movie, you can control the speed at which a viewer takes in the information, which you can't fully in a graphic novel; in a graphic novel, you can control the shape of the picture the viewer sees, which is more difficult with a movie.
“You have to think about space differently; you have to think about time differently, when you're talking about a graphic novel versus a movie,” Beacham said. “And I had come from primarily having worked and written for the screen in the past ... so there was kind of a learning curve in there.”
Beacham said he eventually got the hang of the graphic novel, and it's possible he'd return to write more comics in the future.
“It was a very dynamic, very collaborative process ... I would definitely, definitely love to do more comic work. I think creatively there's something that's differently rewarding about it than the rewards of filmmaking. I like in particular how the dialogue between the writers and the artists work, I like the intimacy of that approach. And I would love to do more stories in that medium, be they more Pacific Rim stories, or original ideas. I'm up for anything.”