Writer Daryl Gregory gave me a bit of his precious time to answer some questions about the upcoming Boom! Studios comic book series “Planet of the Apes.”
First off, give us a brief synopsis of the new “Planet of the Apes” series in your own words.
The story takes place about 600 years after the main events of “Battle for the Planet of the Apes,” in the time of the Lawgiver. Humans and apes are living side by side — but not equally. Apes are the upper class, and the humans are living in a ghetto called Skintown.
As people have now seen in the preview, we start the story with the assassination of the Lawgiver. That destabilizes the city (and perhaps all of ape-human civilization) and we follow the political ramifications from there. Basically, we’re going to show the escalation of the conflict from street protests to insurrection to all-out war.
What kind of preparation did you undergo to write this series?
The movies were my guide. Growing up I watched them too many times to count, but I watched them again to remember what it was that I loved about them. When you’re ten, you don’t really notice that the budget is declining each movie, or that Roddy McDowall wasn’t even playing Cornelius in the second one. But at ten I was oblivious to some things, like the tremendous amount of heart that Kim Hunter brings to Zira, especially in “Escape from the Planet of the Apes.”
For mood, I’m embracing the pessimism and grittiness of the first movie and of “Conquest of the Planet of the Apes.” The politics of “Conquest” are especially clearly stated, and I wanted to bring that same level of frankness and seriousness to this series.
Who came up with the idea to make this series a direct prequel to the original movies?
Matt Gagnon, BOOM! Studios’ editor-in-chief, told me that we had the entire mythology to play with and asked me if I had any ideas. We needed to find a way in to the stories that would be fresh. I thought about it for a day, and realized that I was really interested in picking up after the last movie, but before the time period of the first movie. As it turns out, this is the same period that the series editor Ian Brill was interested in, so we were off and running.
I really wanted to use humans who were not yet mute savages, and to talk about the time period in which the civilization was climbing back after the nuclear war. We tossed around a few ideas, some of which we’ll bring up in Year 2.
Do you have the entire storyline for this new series mapped out or do you work on a multi-issue arc?
I’ve got a firm outline for the first eight issues, with a hazier outline for the next four — and then Year Two really is wide open. I’ve divided the first year into three 4-issue arcs (funny how that length fits so neatly into trade paperbacks, eh?), but each arc leads into the next.
What was the hardest part of doing this new “Planet of the Apes” prequel?
The hardest part is balancing the desires of long-time fans with the needs of readers who haven’t seen all five movies and memorized the scriptures of the Lawgiver. The goal, of course, is to please both audiences. Fans will pick up on references that will go over the heads of new readers — but nothing will be required for understanding the story.