Humanity has always been a dangerous creature. But what happens when you deal with the Infected?
Following the hit film 28 Days Later, Michael Alan Nelson has been hard at work chronicling the continuing adventures of the machete-swinging Selena in the ongoing comic by BOOM! Studios.
This series follows Selena in her ill-advised return to Infected England, as she assists a group of television journalists to show the true story of the speedy, cannibalistic hordes. Having hit its sixteenth issue, we caught up with Nelson to recap what's been going on for this ill-fated group, what his favorite moments of the series have been, and to tease as to what's next as the expedition to London continues.
Newsarama: Michael, just to start off with -- we're seeming to be entering a new chapter with 28 Days Later. For those who might not be up to speed, what do you feel are some of the big moments as far as the first "era" of this series goes?
Michael Alan Nelson: I think the first “big moment” would be the boat explosion at the end of “London Calling.” It’s at that moment when you realize that no one is safe and that Selena and (surviving) company are in a whack-ton of trouble. And it only gets worse from there. The escape from the black ops facility, the death of Derrick, and, most recently, the Mannequin are all big moments that not only change the course of the story, but also really test the mettle of the characters.
Nrama: Now, 28 Days Later is already a pretty high bar to shoot for, considering how well the original film was received. For you, what was the big appeal of this particular zombie-verse?
Nelson: The biggest appeal for me would be the characters and the soft, stolen moments of humanity they share amidst the chaos of Infection. My favorite scene in the film is when Mark and Selena explain to Jim exactly what is going on. There are no flashbacks, no crazy action scenes or things blowing up, just these survivors sitting in a tiny room and talking. It’s so powerful. To have the opportunity to play in a universe where those character moments are key is a rare treat indeed.
Nrama: I have to say, with your book, you started off with a fairly hefty cast to begin with, and now it's been whittled down to two. Was there any particular reason why you were so ruthless to your characters?
Nelson: Most importantly it was to show how dangerous the world is and that anyone at any time can be taken out. I think that sort of uncertainty makes the story more enjoyable. If you know nothing is ever going to happen to your characters, then what’s the point of putting them in dangerous situations? But if you know that they CAN die, then the reader will feel a genuine sense of concern when they’re put into difficult situations. Also, I’m notorious for being unusually cruel to my protagonists. I like putting them through hell because it makes their victories even sweeter.
Nrama: Looking back at what you've done so far with 28 Days Later, what would you say is the moment you're most proud of?
Nelson: That’s a tough question. There are several moments that I’m proud of, like the poker game, Trina’s backbiting, the Mannequin and the camera flash in the elevator shaft. But I’d have to say that the moment I’m MOST proud of is at the end of “Factions” when Selena says, “I want to watch it burn.” It’s small and pretty nondescript, but I think it says so much about who Selena is as character and what she's been through. It’s a turning point for her. She internalizes her own rage and embraces a rare moment of sadism. She wants to relish the destruction and agony of those who have caused her so much pain. There’s so much going on in that tiny moment and I’m very happy the way it all came together.
Nrama: Moving ahead, what would you say the goal is now, compared to what the goals were the past 16 issues? It was madness for Selena to return to infected England in the first place, but now that she's there, what does she want?
Nelson: The goal is still the same: Get to London. As for Selena’s reasons, that’s something that will be revealed eventually. We know that Clint’s reason for going to London is for the story, but Selena’s is much more personal. I’ve been using flashback scenes throughout the series to help lay the groundwork for her reasons for returning and her earrings are a big part of that. Beyond that, you’ll just have to wait to find out!
Nrama: And something that's always been a running theme during zombie movies is that humans can be more inhuman than the Infected. We've already seen isolationist militias and corrupt black ops agents -- what's next on your plate as far as that goes?
Nelson: If you go back through the series, you’ll see that Selena has a shadow. Part of her past is about to come back to haunt her. What Selena sees as survival, others may see as criminal. The thing to remember is that she’s not the only person who’s lost someone to Infection.
Nrama: You've been working with Alejandro Aragon -- will he be sticking around moving ahead? What sorts of strengths does he bring to the table, and how has his work grown since you two started working together?
Nelson: I have to be honest. I was terribly sad when Declan left the project (but also very happy for him, too). But Alejandro jumped in with both feet has been doing a spectacular job. You can tell that his already strong grasp of the characters keeps getting stronger with each issue. It’s been so much fun watching how he really makes the series his own.
Nrama: Finally, for those who still haven't hopped on the 28 Days Later boat, what would you say to get them on board? Any moments ahead you can tease that you're really excited to see?
Nelson: Well, boats are never a good thing in this series, trust me. As for what’s coming up, we’ll solve the mystery of Selena’s shadow and I finally answer (somewhat) a question that readers have been asking me since the very beginning: whatever happened to Jim and Hannah? So, if you’re a fan of the film, then you’ll really want to check out this series.