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Interview: Christopher Sebela Discusses ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK for BOOM! Studios

Writer Christopher Sebela discusses the upcoming series and his love of the original film.

BOOM! Studios has already had quite a bit of success with their BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA on-going, which continues the adventures of 80s icon Jack Burton. As soon as that series debuted, though, 80s action fans were wondering when the more memorable of the Kurt Russell action roles was going to debut: Snake Plissken from Escape From New York. Back in July, BOOM! Studios announced that Snake would be coming to comic form this December, written by Christopher Sebela (DEAD LETTERS).

The 1981 John Carpenter films follows Snake Plissken. In the future of 1997, the President crashes in Manhattan, which is now a maximum security prison. Snake, a convicted bank robber, is sent in to save him, but only has 24 hours to do it or a capsule injected into Snake will dissolve and kill him. Sebela talked to us about this upcoming series and what we can expect.

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COMIC VINE: What led you to working on ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK?

CHRISTOPHER SEBELA: When I found out about BIG TROUBLE being made into a comic I did my best to get myself on Boom's radar as being a huge Carpenter nerd who would be willing to work on any other books of his they might get their hands on. I even made an empty threat to my editors on DEAD LETTERS that they had to give me a shot if anything happened down the road. Then all of a sudden I was getting emails and I as soon as I saw the words ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK I was replying in the affirmative.

CV: Much like with BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA, does John Carpenter have any input on this book?

CS: We're still keeping this bit under our hats for now.

CV: Are you a fan of the original film and if so, are there any moments that stick out to you?

CS: God yes. Carpenter is one of my all-time favorite directors, one who shaped me from an inadvisably young age. Probably I shouldn't have been watching his movies as a little kid, but I did and they shaped a lot of my obsessions that still live on til today. EfNY the movie was probably the first 'post-apocalypse' movie I saw (that or ROAD WARRIOR) and definitely the first hints of old westerns and the stuff like that I'd ever experienced. I actually just saw it last year projected in 35mm, which was a huge thing for me. As far as specific moments, I think the movie works so well is that it works as a whole, there's no attention-stealing action scenes or set pieces, it's all one big piece.

CV: Will this be retelling the original film or is this an all new adventure for Snake Plissken?

CS: It's all brand new, never before seen adventures for Snake. We could retell the movie, but I wouldn't have signed on for that because why bother? The movie's a classic for a reason. It stands on its own and John Carpenter and Nick Castle don't need any help with the script they wrote and we couldn't do anything to try and improve on the film without just wrecking what makes it special.

CV: If it's not a retelling, when in the ESCAPE timeline will this take place?

CS: This book starts about 20 seconds before the movie ends. We pick up directly with all the pieces on the board the way they were in the film and see what happens next. Along with that, everything else remains locked in too. It's still 1997 via 1981's vision of the future. So no sudden leaps of technology or anything, we're treating the movie and its visual style as our sacred bible.

CV: How do you prepare to work on this book and get into a character's head like Snake? Do you go as far to wear an eye patch?

CS: I've bought an eyepatch, but I don't wear it while I'm writing or anything. It's just a good thing to have around in case of emergency. Otherwise I've been watching and re-watching the movie, I have the novelization around for refreshers and I have Carpenter's soundtrack to the film as ambience while I'm writing. Part of the fun of the gig is figuring out how to get into Snake's head, especially since his whole demeanor is built around keeping people out.

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CV: Is Escape from LA considered canon in this new series?

CS: We're not even thinking about it. I love that movie for a batch of different reasons than the ones that make me love EfNY, but we're not touching it. Since we start in 1997, there's a lot of ground to cover as it is, LA is so far down the timeline that it's not factoring in to what I want to do.

CV: What makes this film and its main character so intriguing that it warrants a comic book series?

CS: I think everyone has their own reasons. Personally, with the film, it feels like one of the big bridges between westerns evolving into post apocalypse cinema. It's a western that people who grew up in urban decay could relate to, or at least looked more familiar than a pack of guys riding around on horses in sand and scrub. Throw in the looming fear of WW3 and nuclear war and the collapse of civilization we've been dealing with since the late 70s and it functions as a horror movie too. It's got it all.

As for Snake, I think it's because he's a man with a huge history that we're just left to guess at. We don't know how he got his two purple hearts, or what turned him from a soldier into a criminal or really anything about him other than the few facts we're told (against Snake's will). Snake isn't a sharer, he keeps his secrets, he keeps himself distant, focused on the endgame. He's not a hero who's interested in saving the world. Snake just wants to save his own skin, but he's forever at the mercy of big institutions like the military or the government or the prison industry. He's a complicated man, but also incredibly straightforward. Also an eyepatch, a big gun with a bigger scope and a mullet that actually looks badass never hurts.

CV: Much how New York and LA are prisons, are there other areas of the United States you'd like to explore with Snake in the future?

CS: All of it. Is that a valid answer? After being allowed to write Snake Plissken, the most exciting part of the book is getting to explore what the rest of the US is like in this alternate future where crime has risen 400% and the government has gotten fed up enough to just write off Manhattan as a prison. Or outside the US. The possibilities for how messed up everywhere else is are exciting as hell. I'm eager to dig into just how shattered the rest of this world is.

CV: How much of the book will deal with the film's over controlling government?

CS: Quite a bit, actually. Snake was promised a pardon if he rescued the President and got the Hartford Summit cassette back safely. While he did the first, he betrayed the President on the latter score, humiliating him in front of the world and throwing a monkeywrench into the World War 3 truce talks. So now that he's blown that, his pardon isn't worth the paper it's printed on and he's got all the might of the American government coming after him.

CV: Anything else you'd like to tell us about this upcoming series?

CS: It's going to be awesome. Am I allowed to say that? I'll say that. AWESOME.

Make sure to check out ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK from BOOM! Studios when it hits shelves in December! Thanks to Christopher Sebela for chatting it up with us!