From the Big Screen to Comics, the Other Way Round: Big Trouble in Little China

For many movie buffs, a first visit to a comic store may often turn into a surprise as they discover how many popular movies – or TV series – are actually based on a comic franchise.

In last decade, sometimes roles have been reversed – a popular movie makes it to the smaller, drawn format, sometimes as a continuation of the movie, but also sometimes set before the movie’s timeline. A perfect example is BOOM! Studios’ excellent 28 Days Later series, published from 2009 to 2011. The series, starring Selena – as well as two new characters Derrick and main antagonist Captain Stiles –  is set only some weeks after the original Aronofsky feature film and closes with panes referring to the sequel 28 Weeks Later.

BOOM! Studios have almost single-handedly – or should we say “single-studioedly” – created a new genre out of this. We should also count the Die Hard: Year One series, the Planet of the Apes Series (published since 2011), not to mention owning the license to Marvel’s Hellraiser franchise co-authored by none else than Clive Barker since December 2010.

This summer, BOOM! is back at it with a new series, once more based on a cult film. The three-volumes-old Big Trouble in Little China is based on John Carpenter’s cult hit from 1986, starring Russell Crowe as Jack Burton.

Fans of Carpenter’s movie will immediately feel at home when reading the series written by Eric Powell, of The Goon fame, and illustrated by Brian Churilla, who worked on BlackAcre and Avengers and the Infinity Gauntlet.

The series picks up immediately after the end of the movie, in which truck driver Burton deals with Lo-Pan. The reader is immediately confronted with 80s art work, reminding one of Patrick Swayze, but also the original movie poster for Carpenter’s film. (This can either be the hook or the turn-off, depending how you feel about Patrick Swayze.)

After an almost 30-year-long wait, fans discover the monster Pete again, as Jack Burton and the demon fill the first frames and pages of the series opener.

Soon the reader is drawn in the all too familiar snappy Burton dialogue, as well as regular fights, in which Pete – who manages to often draw a smile from the reader with his at times inappropriate behaviour – tends to keep short, allowing Big Trouble in Little China to maintain great pace and quirkiness.

Big rig driving and multiple times married Jack Burton cannot resist cracking jokes at the expense of his ex-partners, but Churilla’s artwork integrates these jokes in an often hilarious way without making our preferred truck driver too much of a redneck persona. (No offense meant.)

The series is planned to be 12 volumes long, and according to Powell, the team has the intention to let Jack visit different locations, as well as create different story plots, allowing readers to be able to pick up any episode without needing to follow a complete story arc. Several of the characters on the movie also make a return, such as Egg Chan and Wang Chi.

Aside from the similarites/connections mentioned, the comic series is new writing, not based on previously existing unpublished material, according to Powell.

John Carpenter has served  as a consultant for the series but is otherwise not involved in the production.

Big Trouble in Little China can be purchased from BOOM! Studios’ website or app and retails at $3.99/episode.

And in case you haven’t seen the movie, here’s the trailer. You might just get convinced.

A little more comics reading:

5 Big Reasons Comics Had to go Digital
Six Comic Book Movies You Didn’t Know Were Comics
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