It seems like Ol’ Jack Burton just can’t stay out of trouble, even when he’s out of the country!
BOOM! Studios is celebrating the 30th anniversary of John Carpenter’s classic film, Big Trouble In Little China with a brand new Jack Burton adventure. This June, Big Trouble In Little China Illustrated Novel: Big Trouble In Mother Russia is coming to comic book stores and book stores as Jack once again finds himself in the middle of some unwanted insanity.
RiffTrax writer/performer Matthew J. Elliot is writing Big Trouble In Mother Russia, while Elena Casagrande (Doctor Who) will provide the black and white spot illustrations throughout the 192 page novel.
According to BOOM! Studios, the novel takes place after the original movie and before the ongoing Big Trouble In Little China comic book series. Here’s the official description:
“Ol’ Jack Burton is back, and he brought some old friends—plus a few old enemies—along for an adventure in a brand-new setting. A lot of people want to get their hands on Jack, including the KGB, the Russian mob, and his old enemies from Big Trouble in Little China, the Wing Kong. Lost on the streets of Moscow, he can only rely on the trusty Wang Chi and the lovely Gracie Law to help him unlock a centuries-old mystery that could tear apart the fabric of reality. Can he do it? Like he told his ex-wife, it’s all in the reflexes…”
Earlier this week, CraveOnline spoke with Elliot about his plans for Jack Burton and what awaits him in Mother Russia.
CraveOnline: How many times have you seen Big Trouble in Little China?
Matthew Elliott: I watched my original videotape so many times, it became transparent. Didn’t matter, though, the whole movie was burned into my memory. Like Johnny Mnemonic, I had to delete my childhood to make room for it, but it was totally worth it. Every year, I get a Christmas card from somebody claiming to be my sister. Weird. I should probably look into that, when I’m not re-watching Big Trouble In Little China.
What drew you to Jack Burton?
His boundless self-belief. Charlie Sheen would call him over-confident. He’s entirely satisfied that everything that’s going on is about him, and if it isn’t, then by God, he’ll make it so it is. He never lets the fact that he doesn’t know what’s going on or what he’s doing stop him or even slow him down. And that’s why I’m voting for him in 2016.
Were there any other characters in the film that you were partial to?
Jack’s main man, Wang, whose name nobody finds even in the slightest bit funny. There’s a good argument to be made that the original Big Trouble is actually Wang’s story, but Jack kind of muscles in and – surprise, surprise – makes it all about him. In Jack’s mind, Wang is his personal Tonto, and anything he might accomplish is just put down to chance or coincidence.
How did you get involved with the Big Trouble illustrated novel?
I was recommended for the job by Rich Handley, whose company Hasslein published my book Lost in Time and Space: An Unofficial Guide to the Uncharted Journeys of Doctor Who. I’d also written a couple of essays on Star Wars and Planet of the Apes for him, and they seemed to make him laugh a lot. I hope this book will make people laugh, too, but I also want it to add extra dimension to Jack’s life and misadventures.
What brings Jack to Russia in this story?
Poor decision-making. As the novel begins, Jack’s taken on a relatively straightforward job, transporting a crate from a private museum in California. But he manages to miss a crucial part of his instructions, and winds up making the long journey to the USSR in place of the crate’s contents. It’s a story old as time, really, like Beauty and the Beast or Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call – New Orleans.
Will we see any other familiar faces from the movie in the novel?
Oh Hell, yeah! Jack is nothing without his trusty Wang (no, I don’t see anything wrong with that sentence at all), and his love interest from the movie, Gracie Law is back too, but this time round, she’s taking on an entirely unexpected role. There’ll also be a lot of old enemies to torment Jack and his buddies. I’m not going to give too much away, but expect to hear the name David Lo Pan.
Who are some of the new faces that we’ll encounter?
We’ll meet a Russian General with a very strange agenda, and some unusual (and unnatural) henchmen. There are also a couple of club owners in Moscow’s Chinatown (yeah, that’s a real thing), who are very far from what they seem to be, and who have something really weird locked up in their storeroom. Oh yeah, and Elvis.
Which characters were the most fun to write in this book?
There’s a particular gentleman who’s employed by the US Embassy in Moscow. If I told you more than that about him, it would wreck a big surprise, but Jack seems to know him. It drives me crazy that I can’t say more about him, but I had an absolute ball writing dialog for him. Let’s just say he’s not your typical civil servant, and like everybody else in this story, his mission is out of the ordinary. Waaaay out.
Tell us about your artist on the illustrated novel. Have you seen her finished art yet?
The artwork is by the sensational Elena Casagrande who, most recently, has done some stunning work on Titan Comics’ Doctor Who range. Her work – and the incredible likenesses of the original cast – take the book to a whole other level. She’s turned this story into the sequel you never saw.
Dream fight: Jack Burton vs. Snake Plissken. Who wins if you write that battle?
If I write that fight, Wang unleashes his mad kung-fu skills on Snake, and Jack manages to convince himself that he won the fight without really trying. Then R J MacReady from The Thing shows up, helps Snake to his feet, and it is on like Donkey Kong…
Do you have any more Big Trouble stories lined up?
I have a couple of very cool adventures in mind, but it’s all up to the good people at BOOM! as to whether I get to tell them. There are definitely some places I’d like to take Jack, and some experiences he could only have in those places. But I’ve already said too much.
What else are you currently working on?
I’ve just finished my second Doctor Who audio for Big Finish audio, as well as dramatizing the complete Sherlock Holmes Canon for US outfit Imagination Theater. I have two more books I’m writing this year, and an all year round commitment to American radio drama companies. I promised myself I’d celebrate when I wrote my 250th play, but then I had a really busy spell, and the next time I checked, I was up to 266 – God knows what the figure is now. There’s also this thing called “a life” that I’ve heard people talk about. I don’t know where you get them from, but I want one – especially if it makes freshly-squeezed orange juice. Actually, that might not be a life. I might be thinking of something else.
Last question: can you offer Big Trouble fans a teaser for some of the exciting moments in the story?
Jack is attacked by an army of gross bugs at one point. He gets mistaken for child star Kurt Russell, and has a fight to the death on board a jet that’s in the process of crashing. And he gets shot in the ass. Good times. I wish I could tell you even a little about the climax of this adventure, but it’s a battle for the highest stakes ever known in the most unusual setting on Earth. Ain’t I a tease?