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DF Interview: Justin Gray among creators bringing ‘noir meets science fiction’ Trancers to comics
By Byron Brewer
Action Lab Comics found a hit with Charles Band’s Puppet Master, the horror comic book series based on the popular film from Full Moon Entertainment. The publisher has gone to the well again, bringing another of the studio’s classic films to the comic world with Trancers as part of its brand new comics line, Full Moon Presents.
Written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti (Starfire, Harley Quinn) and based on the cult film series starring Tim Thomerson and Academy Award winner Helen Hunt, Trancers is the story of decorated Police Trooper Jack Deth. A cop from the far flung future of the year 2247, Jack must travel back to 1985 Los Angeles on a one-way mission to capture a fugitive with the power to transform ordinary people into psychotic killing machines.
Dynamic Forces met with Justin Gray down at an LA precinct and this is what the scribe told us about the coming comic.
Dynamic Forces: Justin, tell us about this rise from the ashes of the Trancers franchise, and how you became involved.
Justin Gray: A few months back Shawn Gabborin from Action Lab Comics reached out to Jimmy and myself asking if we’d be interested in working with them on a three-issue Trancers story. I was very familiar with the original films and a number of the Full Moon properties as was Jimmy. Personally I loved the noir meets science fiction mashup with Jack Deth spewing these great lines of dialogue, the whole scene with Helen Hunt regretting a one night stand with Jack’s ancestor and then watching the mall Santa she works with start throwing children and going on a murderous rampage is classic.
DF: You will be co-writing with Jimmy Palmiotti. Can you explain how the process will work there?
JG: It starts with a discussion of plot and character, working out the mythology of the Trancers world and trying to find elements that appeal to new readers who might be unfamiliar with the films and offering something existing fans might like to see. Then one of us writes the script and we start breaking it down and streamlining the script into something we’re both happy with.
DF: Were you a fan of the 1985 film or any of its sequels?
JG: Yeah, I still am. Those movies didn't have huge budgets, but they had passion and stars that made them unique. Sure, they’re very eighties, but Bilson, De Meo and director Charles Band took some great influences and made a classic cult film. I love cult films and they’re not easy to make.
DF: For the uninitiated, tell us the back story of Trancers viz a viz its slant on time travel, etc.
JG: You have a great mix of elements including time travel, cyber punk, zombies and film noir, with Tim Thomerson as this granite faced trooper from the future hunting the man that killed the woman that was both his partner and his wife. Like 1981’s X-Men: Days of Future Past, Jack Deth is sent back in time, only he occupies the body of his ancestor Phil Dethton instead of a younger version of himself. Jack is chasing Whistler, this megalomaniac with the power to turn weak-minded people into rabid zombie-like slaves. Jack thought he killed Whistler, but somehow the man managed to survive, which is the driving force for the first film.
DF: What is the storyline in this new book? Are these new stories or adaptations of the films?
JG: It is a little of both. Jimmy and I wanted to look at what happened before the first film started and to play within the context of the first film. This was a way to give new readers the opportunity to approach the book and not feel like they have to see the films to get the comic.
DF: Who are your protagonists?
JG: Jack is obviously the star. So much of the focus is on him as he continues his hunt for Whistler. We also have Helen Hunt’s character Lena getting involved as well.
DF: Justin, what is next from your talented keyboard?
JG: I’m currently working with Jimmy and Amanda on the Harley Quinn & Power Girl mini for DC, which is a blast. I just released my self-published novel called Sunslinger: Riders of the Silences, which is an alternate reality Western where the creatures and gods of Greek mythology interact with gunslingers, Native Americans and outlaws on the 1880s frontier. I’m working on the sequel for that and I hope to release it around Christmas.
Dynamic Forces would like to thank Justin Gray for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. Trancers #1 hits stores in October!
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