He’s one of the biggest kids in the comics industry. Getting to play with characters like Batman, Superboy, the Legion of Super-Heroes and the Teen Titans will do that to a person. Now writer J. Torres (Batman: The Brave and the Bold for DC Comics and Avatar: The Last Airbender in Nickelodeon Magazine) is ready to tackle his next character, Wall-E.
Based on the hit Pixar film, the new Wall-E ongoing series from Boom! Studios (with art by Morgan Luthi) takes place before the film. With issue #0 kicking things off this month on November 11, Torres shared some thoughts behind his latest project.
GEEKDAD: Wall-E’s a robot, but he certainly exhibits a lot of human emotions. What makes him such a strong lead character?
TORRES: He’s very human, isn’t he? He dreams of very universal things: companionship, acceptance, “more from life.” That allows us to really relate to him despite his limited robotic vocabulary, and makes him a great protagonist.
Besides Wall-E, will we be seeing any other familiar faces?
Since it’s a prequel, it’s mostly Wall-E. But we do get to see the last of the other Wall-E units in the first issue, and in the third issue we introduce the cockroach. Each issue is self-contained and you needn’t pick up the others to get the whole story, but together the four issues paint a bigger picture which leads into the film. We get to see Wall-E before he becomes the diligent robot we find in the movie. We see him building a home for himself. We learn how he and the cockroach met. We find out what happened to the other Wall-E units. There’s a lot going on for a story about a lone robot.
Wall-E had like six lines in the movie. Just how are you going to write a monthly comic that basically stars a mute robot?
Hopefully, the same way they pulled it off in the film. With pantomime and terrific “acting.” So, a lot depends on Morgan’s storytelling ability and luckily he’s brilliant.
What age group would you say the comic is aimed at?
Like the movie, it’s definitely all-ages. I think big kids like you and I will like it because it fills in some backstory and expands on the Wall-E world. But even kids who can’t read and just want to see more robot fun can pick it up and enjoy the story through the pictures. I’ve also written it so that moms and dads can have some fun reading it out loud with their kids, or have their kids interpret the story through the art. It’s fun for the whole family!
Environmentalism was a big underlying theme of the movie. Are you going to follow suit at all?
Yes, but we try not to be too heavy-handed about it and simply make it part of the “scenery” as they did in the film. No one points at the garbage, looks at you, then wags their finger, you know? But it’s obvious from the environment and some of the conflicts in the story that this is a cautionary tale of sorts. Mostly, it’s a coming of age story but Wall-E does learn from his environment.
What does your kid think about you writing Wall-E? Do you need to run your ideas by him first?
My son only turns two in December, and even if he could give me any kind of input it would probably be something along the lines of putting Lightning McQueen in the story. He’s crazy about “Cars” right now. However, I do have nephews ranging in age from 3 to 10 who are pretty excited about my working on Wall-E. I think they’re more impressed by this assignment than anything I’ve ever worked on, including Batman or Teen Titans. We were all at Disneyland recently and the boys all wore Wall-E T-shirts in honor of Uncle J.’s new gig!