EXCLUSIVE: Interview With PACIFIC RIM:TALES FROM THE DRIFT Writer Joshua Fialkov

– by Michael Connally

Last week I had the pleasure of getting to talk to one of my favorite writers in the comic industry. Joshua Fialkov is the Harvey, Eisner, and Emmy Award nominated writer of graphic novels, animation, video games, film, and television, including: THE LIFE AFTER, THE BUNKER, PUNKS, ELK'S RUN, TUMOR, ECHOES, THE ULTIMATES, I, VAMPIRE, and ALPHA.  Today is the release of a new chapter in his writing saga PACIFIC RIM: TALES FROM THE DRIFT. Following the best-selling graphic novel Pacific Rim: Tales from Year Zero, Fialkov takes you back to the frontlines of a larger-than-life battleground with Pacific Rim: Tales from the Drift, the official new comic series presented by director Guillermo del Toro and Pacific Rim screenwriter Travis Beacham.  

Michael - You’ve worked with so many different companies; how does working for Legendary compare to other companies you’ve worked with?

Joshua:  Legendary is fantastic to work with.  The motto of the company, one of the things they tell you when you first sit down with them is that they are all about the creator; all about supporting you as the creative person.  Obviously they make a lot of money and part of the way they do is nurturing creative people and letting them do what they do.  So getting to work with them, in general, is fantastic. 

And then getting to work on a franchise that I love with guidance from both the original writer of the film and the director of the film is just an amazing experience. Getting to play in the universe that’s so well flushed out and, I think a lot of the stuff they’ve done is stuff that didn’t make it into the first film.  So, knowing all those pieces and getting to play with what those pieces mean and plant seeds for the larger franchise its an absolute honor.

Michael:  How was your experience working with Guillermo del Toro and Travis Beacham (writer of Pacific Rim and Pacific Rim: Tales from Year Zero) on this story?

Joshua:  From Travis I got the bones of the story.  They knew where they wanted to go; they knew sort of where we were starting; what period history they wanted to cover; they had sort of a general idea of what the characters and what the journey would be. But, I had a lot of freedom to tell a story, and more importantly to tell a story in a way that excited me. 

With the book, well I think when you do work for hire, and I’ve done some pretty bizarre books for Marvel and DC, but at the same time that’s always sort of a struggle.  Because the innovative way I want to tell a story is how do you get to the heart of the personal conflict of the story.  So, when I pitch the operating stake for the book, Legendary was just completely on board and they were super excited about it.  So being able to kind of tell this dual story with variable stakes both in terms of what’s happening in the past and what’s happening in the present, is so fun to get to this experiment and try different stuff and to get to do it with these amazing toys.  I will happily work with legendary for years and years to come.

Michael:  Did you have any challenges coming up with the writing for this story, with the movie being out and a graphic novel already in place? Did you feel you were limited in any way?

Joshua: No, because when I started they gave me a master design document they made for the Pacific Rim Universe.  They made this elaborate gorgeous book; it is in part for the movie, for the marketing, etc.  When you sit down and look at this thing, first of all it is a masterpiece.  I wish they would publish it because I want it on my shelf; it is so cool and so gorgeous. 

Beyond that it is filled with stuff that you only got dribs and drabs of in the movie.  So getting access to that stuff combined with how active and vocal the fan community is makes it easier. 

There is a Pacific Rim Wikipedia supported by the fans. The fans have it put together. It is super accurate.  It is one of those things where you have access to all that stuff and then Bob and David over at legendary were both really really open to what makes the best story, how do we tell the best story and how do we tell something that’s complete and that you can read whether you’re a fan of pacific reem or not thehope is that you can read the comic and have a great experience that make you interested in seeing everything else and going back and watching the movie.

Michael: With the movie sequel being delayed do you feel any pressure delivering a product to the fans of the movie?

Joshua: I think that tension exists on every project whether it’s something that preexists or something that is original.  I think the internet has turned into a thing where people just rage against everything.  So, because of that I think a lot of creators have turned off their interest.

My approach to it is I want to hear what people think because then I can see either these ideas are good or bad or these are the things that resonate with people.  Sometimes I’ve worked on things that people just functionally misunderstood which is my fault, it’s not their fault. I wasn't clear enough as a writer or the artist wasn’t clear enough as an artist.  That’s something that’s always something on the back of my head.

That being said, at the end of the day every story you tell, if you are doing it properly, you are doing it for yourself.  So for me the entire approach for the story was what was the thing in the movie that I found most interesting that had the least amount of screen time and the least amount of development.  And, that for me was the drifting. How does drifting change who we are?

It’s such a profound statement about how we are as people.  It doesn't just take two people to operate.   It takes two people acting as one. And to some degree that is the truth of life, our species is driven to mate, to surround ourselves with people we love, because love is the strength. Love is the thing that makes us more powerful.  The idea that whether that love is between a husband and wife or between brothers or sisters or literally between anybody, love is the thing that matters.  And that is such a beautiful sweet message hidden in the midst of a story about robots and kaiju monsters

Michael:  Without giving too much away about the comic the main characters that we see drifting in the Jaeger are married.  How much did your own personal relationship with your wife have an influence with Duc and Kaori?

Joshua:  When I think about every girl I ever was with throughout the course of my life, never in my life did I think I would find somebody who has become my right arm, who has become such a completely integral part of me. 

My wife and I have that relationship, it’s not co-dependency, is co-existence.  It’s about needing each other in a way that is beyond being co-dependent.  At the end of the day the strength that I found in my own wife, made me who I want to be, and find what I want to find, and follow the path and its all because I have her. I have this person that I love and the idea that every person deserves that puts a bow on that idea. 

So really, this is very much a love story about someone who loses the love of his live, his closest companion and despite that he’ll have to go on and have to climb mountains. And he realizes he can’t climb mountains alone.  So, at the heart of it, this is what that movie is about. That’s what’s behind the comic and the story and I hope that’s something that comes through and resonates with people.

Michael: So if you had to jump in a Jaeger tomorrow your wife would be right there drifting with you?

 Joshua: Laughter, we would give it a try!

Michael: Are we going to see any characters from the movie like Raleigh, Mako, or Stacker interact in the comic book?

Joshua: I can't say a lot but I can tell you were going to see two out of three of those characters.

Michael: What do you hope readers take away from “Pacific Rim: Tales from the Drift”?

Joshua: If we can show people exactly how completely and utterly kick ass is I would be happy.  If people can take away that  can take away the absolute truth is that friendship is in fact magic!  Having people that you can rely on, you can trust. If you don’t have that , you have nothing so getting to tell a story about that wrapped up in Jaegers and Kaijus fighting is so much fun.

Release Date: 11/4/15

Presented by: Guillermo del Toro

Story by: Travis Beacham

Writer: Joshua Fialkov

Artist: Marcos Marz

Colorist: Marcelo Maiolo

Format: 4 issue monthly series

Price: $3.99 single-issue cover price

Source: Legendary, Joshua Fialkov

Twitter:@olivervsslade

Interviews, Comics, LRM Exclusives Pacific Rim, Legenday Entertainment, Joshua Fialkov, Interviews