Earlier today at the Big Trouble In Little China panel at Comic-Con International: San Diego 2014, Boom! Studios made news when it announced the continuation in comics of another Kurt Russell / John Carpenter film ---Escape from New York. The 1981 cult film showed a dystopian view of the world in the then-futuristic year of 1997, with the no-frills mercenary Snake Plissken (played by Russell) is hired to rescue the President of United States who had crashed into the island of Manhattan, which had been converted into the maximum security prison.
Boom!’s new Escape From New York series, which is will be an ongoing, sees Plissken on the run after the fall-out from the finale of that film, which saw him double-cross the President after discovering he was just as malevolent as the prisoners he was rescued from. Escape from New York will be written by Ghost’s Christopher Sebela, who recently launched an original series at Boom! titled Dead Letters; the artist for the series has yet to be announced. Newsarama talked with Sebela about following up on this cult film, staying true to the story and the likenesses of the cast, and the quirky then-futuristic tech of the film and if he’ll keep it in the new series.
Newsarama:Chris, what is this Escape Form New York comic about – is it an adaptation, a continuation or something else?
Christopher Sebela: It's a continuation of the Escape From New York film. We pick up right at the end of the film after (spoilers!) he's gotten the President safely out of Manhattan and destroys the tape that he was tasked with tracking down and delivering. The moment the screen fades to black and the soundtrack goes up is where we start figuring out what happens to Snake next.
Nrama: What’s your impressions of Snake Plissken?
Sebela: Snake isn't much for talking about himself or his feelings, he keeps everything locked in, he's all about doing the job. I see him as a man completely out for himself, the proto lone wolf, he just keeps moving and hunting. But Snake picks up associates here and there, or they attach themselves to him, and after going to war and his experiences in the film, it's become inevitable that whoever gets near him probably doesn't live too long or too well. Snake could and does change the world, but he's not interested in that anymore. He doesn't want medals, praise or respect from his country or his government, he mostly wants to be left alone to do his thing.
As far as handling him, Snake has just humiliated the President of the United States on a global scale and completely shipwrecked a hail mary pass that was meant to appease Russia and China and hopefully put an end to World War 3, so however dangerous he was during the film, now he's like a wild animal backed into a corner, so we get to see just how dangerous he can really be.
Nrama: So it’s Snake versus the President in this, right?
Sebela: Without saying too much about our first two arcs we have planned, Snake's up against the President, the entirety of the United States Police Force and a country tearing itself apart with crime as it tries to fight another World War. He's looking for somewhere quiet and calm to figure out his next moves and everything is conspiring to make that impossible and keep him moving across America, the perfect playground for Snake. As a soldier, a thief and an ex-con who is used to butting heads with impossible odds, I want to see how he reacts when the odds get worse and weirder.
Nrama: What other characters from the movie might we see in this comic series?
Sebela: I guess being elusive here is the best way to go as I don't want to spoiler anything. But considering most of the cast of the movie dies by the end, not a ton of them will be returning for good reason. That's not to say it's going to be a completely clean slate, though. There's enough of Snake's universe that's already established that's rich with characters who are totally deserving of a bit more time in the spotlight, so I'm not discounting anyone or anything just yet.
Nrama: 5. How long to you project this story to be?
Sebela: It's an ongoing book, so as long as we can keep it going. There's a lot of Snake Plissken stories to be told, not just from his present, but from his past, so it feels like an inexhaustible supply of stories not just about Snake but this alternate universe America that's fighting wars from within as well as outside, all spinning out from the film and where it pushes Snake.
Nrama: The original movie took place in the then-future of the late 1990s. When does this comic take place?
Sebela: We also take place in the futuristic world of 1997 as depicted in the film. One of my very first notes to our editor, Ian Brill, was that I really didn't want to update any of the technology or the visuals from what they were in the film and he was already there waiting for me. So all the computers are gonna have amazingly crude wireframe graphics, people talk on walkie talkies and have tracer units built into huge wristbands and other stuff that either never made it into the movie or stuff we come up with that fits with the general aesthetic that John Carpenter and Nick Castle established in their original script.
Nrama: Some movie tie-ins play fast and loose with the unique sensibilities and look of the actors who played those roles. You’re not the artist of Escape From New York, but what can you say about it feeling like Kurt Russell as Snake Plissken here?
Sebela: Like with Eric Powell and Brian Churilla's Big Trouble in Little China comic, there'd be no point in doing it if you're not going to have Kurt Russell front and center. The same way he is Jack Burton or RJ MacReady, Kurt Russell is Snake Plissken. Despite the way Snake has been distilled through pop culture and ignoring the talks about a remake of Escape From New York that pop up now and then, he'll always be Snake. When I write the book, it's him as Snake that I see in my head, his voice reading the dialogue. He and John Carpenter have done so much of the hard work establishing Snake, so we're really lucky that we get to take all that potential and run with it.
Nrama: In 1996 Carpenter made a sequel titled Escape from L.A. Where and how does this comic fit in between that movie and the original?
Sebela: Well, Escape from L.A. takes place in 2013 and Escape from New York takes place in 1997, so that's 16 years where Snake's movements are unaccounted for. But we're just focusing on post-Escape from New York stuff, building off of the consequences of everything Snake does and goes thru in that film and considering we've just seen one small slice of this version of America, it begs the question of how messed up is the rest of the country, or the rest of the world. Considering that Snake is a criminal folk hero known across America — one that's a magnet for trouble and bad news wherever he goes — there's a lot of gaps and a lot of geography to be accounted for.