Captured on the big screen by Kurt Russell, the one-eyed Snake Plissken is back with his own comic book series from BOOM! Studios. In an exclusive MStars News interview, writer Christopher Sebela and Diego Barreto bring back John Carpenter's cult icon in Escape From New York #1 as he leaves the prison state of the Big Apple and heads to the even dangerous Florida.
Ever since the announcement was made during San Diego Comic-Con, we've been anxious to find about more about Escape From New York. As we previously mentioned, the comic book series takes place after the final moments of the cult classic and before the sequel, Escape From L.A. Snake reluctantly finds himself on a new mission as he becomes a wanted man by th government with a price on his head.
Before the first installment of Escape From New York hits stores December 3, MStars spoke with the creative team about putting their own spin on the lone anti-hero, capturing the right tone for the comic, and creating characters just as memorable as Isaac Hayes' villainous turn as The Duke.
MStars News: How did you become involved in the project?
Christopher Sebela: After I found out about the Big Trouble in Little China comic, I knew the possibility existed of doing more John Carpenter comics. I'd been working with my editors Eric [Harburn] and Chris [Rosa] on Dead Letters, a creator-owned book that artist Chris Visions and I do through BOOM!, and I told them that if another Carpenter book was in the works, they had to let me at least pitch on it. Everyone at BOOM! seems to like Dead Letters, and it's a crime book with a lot of rich, weird characters and settings; so I think they thought I would be a decent match for Escape From New York. They offered me the job via email and I nearly broke my keyboard responding.
Diego Barreto: I had worked with BOOM! Studios some time ago on Eureka, Irredeemable, and Planet of the Apes. I was looking for new projects,and when the chance of drawing Escape from New York came in, I couldn't believe It! I did some test drawings and it worked out.
MS: Tell me what interests you about Snake Plissken?
CS: Dystopias and post-apocalypses are sort of what I was raised on, the idea that this "perfect" life we all lead could just go right into the toilet at the push of a button, was kind of omnipresent while I was growing up. I think Escape From New York-along with Road Warrior-is one of the first films I can remember seeing about the future as a bad place.
Snake is the eye of that storm, he's the one person that it never seems to touch. He shows up with very little explanation of who he was before we meet him, or why he makes the choices he does, but he's unstoppable and unflinching and intrinsically kind of right. He's not open, he doesn't reveal anything, and what we know about him doesn't really jibe with who he is now. The mystery of Snake is what's most appealing about him. Snake feels like Sergio Leone's Man With No Name, there's just something instantly iconic about him because so much is left to guesswork.
Plus he has an eyepatch and a mullet. No one before or since ever made that work.
DB: He's a great character! If you like to tell stories you can't help loving this guy.
MS: Tell me about creating a character arc revolving around Snake Plissken, who's more about being a legend and a mystery. Is it a challenge to put your own spin on the character?
CS: For me, the key is to have these messed up settings and people surrounding him to nudge and jostle him around, because Snake with no one else around is, I imagine, not a very exciting guy. He's got that lone wolf streak, but he keeps having to interact with people, as much as it might annoy him. Maybe it's because I'm a recovering misanthrope myself, or, as a guy who makes his living sitting in a room by myself and making stuff up in my head, he's easily relatable to me. I never felt like I had to struggle to extend the story from the original film and still have it feel part of the same thread.
DB: Of course, it's a big challenge, but my main interest was to capture the "complete" Snake character, and not just his facial expressions.
MS: The Duke, played by Isaac Hayes, is one of my favorite antagonists. Do you feel you need to top John Carpenter's characters when you approach the story?
CS: Not top, because that feels adversarial, and I don't think you can top that original film or The Duke. I'm trying, more than anything, to complement the film and the characters in it. The Duke, The President, Maggie, Brain, Cabbie, Romero, there are a ton of great characters in Escape, it's almost an ensemble film with Snake as the unifying thread, and I'm definitely trying to achieve that in this book. It's a great big world, this world of 1997 and World War 3 and 400% rise in crime in America, so I think the populace should reflect the weird times they're living in.
MS: Since the comic centers a futuristic New York and beyond, tell me about creating the setting through your art.
DB: I used the movie as reference for the first issue,but as the story goes on, that's when it gets better! Sebela's angle on the story is great. I think readers will love It!
MS: Because of Dean Cundey's memorable cinematography in the movie, is it a challenge to replicate that cinematic look? Or do you differentiate on how the story should look?
DB: It is, and I've tried to capture some of it in the book, but as the issues go on you have to put some of you into it!
MS: What can you tease about the upcoming issues?
DB: The first arc starts in the last 30 seconds of the film, and it follows what happens to Snake as a result of embarrassing the President and destroying the tape. His Amnesty isn't worth the paper it's printed on and now he has a President and the entirety of the United States Police Force breathing down his neck, so he's on the run. If there's a place that's more messed up than New York in this dystopian future, it made sense to me that it would be Florida. So Snake hides out there, as it's now one of the safest places in America for him to hide, but he finds out that he's gone from a vaguely threatening set of circumstances to downright deadly ones. That's our first arc: Escape from Florida. After that, I can't say much about it, except to say that Snake is going to have his work of saving his own skin cut out for him.
MS: What other projects are you working on now?
CS: Lots of stuff. Dead Letters, with Chris Visions and myself, is still coming out from BOOM!, I've just started work on the third arc of that. I also have a Hellraiser short coming out in Hellraiser: Bestiary #6 that I'm excited about, because Hellraiser! I have Alien Vs. Predator and Ghost coming out from Dark Horse Comics. High Crimes, the Eisner-nominated comic I do with Ibrahim Moustafa, is wrapping up this year and then I have a ton of stuff that's in various forms of progress and will start coming out next year. So, my biggest project now is figuring out when I can take a vacation.
DB: Storyboards, storyboards, and more storyboards! That's what I've been doing for the last 15 years besides comics. There's a group of really good production houses here in Uruguay, good professionals who make good films and commercials, and I have the luck of working in the film industry, too!
Escape From New York #1 arrives December 3rd.© 2017 Mstars News, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.