Rogues Portal had the opportunity to speak with Eric Carrasco, writer of Maze Runner: The Death Cure Official Graphic Novel Prelude—which came out from BOOM! Studios on November 1.
Check out the Q&A below!
- ROGUES PORTAL (RP): What drew you to working on Maze Runner: The Death Cure Official Graphic Novel Prelude?
ERIC CARRASCO: I actually first came to Maze Runner through the comics. I’m friends with Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing, who wrote the original graphic novel prelude to the Scorch Trials movie, and I loved their stuff. I went back and watched the movies, and now we’re here. Happy to follow their lead.
- RP: Where do you even start when creating a prelude to help fill the gap between two films?
EC: I started by spit-balling with the editors (Jasmine Amiri, Matthew Levine, and Dafna Pleban, who are awesome), picking corners of the mythology to poke around in. And once we settled on a couple story areas, we started working with the film side of the equation. When you do a tie-in to a big movie like this, there’s this strange, hermetic process where you go to the studio, and enter a little office and sign an NDA, and someone hands you a watermarked script. You read it and then you knock and tell them you’re done and someone collects the script and shreds it
From there, you start sending summaries of your story to the filmmakers. They send notes, the rest is a blur, and then you have a comic book.
- RP: Maze Runner: The Death Cure Official Graphic Novel Preludedoes a fantastic job of keeping the integrity of Dashner’s world alive. How difficult is it to create a graphic novel based on a preexisting world?
EC: It’s mostly about those corners you find, the ones a movie might not have time to explore. On this, it was fun to tackle Thomas and Brenda’s relationship, a Ronin/Road Warrior apocalyptic survival story with Gally, etc.
- I am a huge fan of how the character-heavy scenes have simple backgrounds and the more detailed panels are reserved for the landscapes. What made you decide to go this route?
EC: A lot of that is artist Kendall Goode, choosing layouts and where to pack in detail. I was only specific with the landscapes and wide shots when it felt important. In the rebel camp, for instance, the script called for:
WIDE — a nice look at our heroes’ temporary CAMP. Like a shanty town, but less homey. Nothing that can’t be broken down in two minutes flat. We see a big BRAWLER DUDE pulling the RIP-CORD on a GENERATOR, a few COMPUTER TERMINALS, and ARIS leaning over the firepit. Cooking with a simple blue camping pot.”
When it came to facial expressions and conversations, the stuff in the script was spare. We knew going in that this would be much talkier than the movies, and background detail would have distracted from the emotion. So, when we’re in dialogue, the script tended to be more like:
Harriet and Ponytail giving Thomas a look like Lucy and Ethel caught red- handed.”
- One of my favorite parts of Dashner’s series (and any good dystopian really) is how it has its own created language or terminology. Was it challenging to incorporate this?
EC: I love that stuff! Fake curse words are especially fun. I grew up with the Legion of Super-heroes saying, “Sprock” and “Grife” and such. And Star Wars is a good guiding light. For every, “Blast it, Biggs, where are you?” you get an, “I’ll see you in hell!” You use fake slang where it helps you, and avoid where it might pull you out of the story. I had fun with “shuck.”
And as for the rest, we made a conscious effort to return to “Builders,” “Runners,” etc. The terms from The Glade. It’s about our freedom fighters applying lessons they learned in the first maze to their war effort.
- In addition to the terminology, I love a well-written god-game story, and I’m glad that was visually brought into the graphic novel. What are some of your favorite parts about Dashner’s series that you were eager to bring into the prelude?
EC: Mazes! I knew I wanted to throw our heroes into a new maze. The movies expand the world so much that for me, it was nice to use this smaller story to go back to basics.
- Perhaps it is just me, but the art in Maze Runner: The Death Cure Official Graphic Novel Prelude seemed to get darker, bleaker towards the story’s end. Was this a deliberate move?
EC: Very much so. Some specified in the script, but most just coming straight from Kendall’s pencils and our kickass colors by Valentina Pinto.
- The weight of possible death hanging over all of the characters is very present here. Were there any specific themes or questions you were intentionally teasing out in the storyline?
EC: Yeah, the entire thing is death-obsessed. That’s the theme that unifies the Gally story, and our Thomas and Brenda story.
- The writing and the art come together really well to imbue the story with a palpable energy. What was it like working together as a creative team?
EC: I try to jumpstart the energy in the script. It covers up all the obnoxious stuff I’m asking for. So—and you’ve heard this a million times from every comic book writer—I try to write them like a letter to the team.
PULL WIDE to ANOTHER GUARD. I’m going to call him “ZED” just so I can make a Pulp Fiction reference on the next page that only you will see. He just walked in, midway into a bite of a sandwich.
Possibly the same image as 11.5, only now Zed’s slapping an ALARM PANEL.
Zed has suddenly frozen in place, his eyes now sightless. Because Zed’s dead, baby. Zed’s dead.”
And when it all comes together, that’s the best part. That’s why I love comics. The pencils and inks come in, and the colors and letters, and it becomes real. Nothing beats that.
- As an ominous, but somewhat fun question to end on, if you were thrust into Dashner’s world, how long do you think you’d survive before succumbing to The Flare?
EC: Three hours, tops.
As you can tell from this interview, you should definitely pick up Maze Runner: The Death Cure Official Graphic Novel Prelude. Check out our review here.