One of the most talked about monthly running horror stories of the past 5 years has been without a doubt Michael Alan Nelson’s “28 DAYS LATER” from BOOM! Studios. The series has been nothing short of a hit since its debut in July of 2009, but as is the case with all things, the series was recently announced to be coming to an end later this Summer with issue #24. This past week I was lucky enough to catch up with Michael and take a look back on the series with its scribe, and also to discuss the final issues leading up to the series’ thrilling conclusion. Read on for the skinny…
THEoDEAD“Thank you for taking the time to do this with us Michael, we really appreciate it. First of all, it was recently announced that “28 DAYS LATER” will be coming to its end later this Summer, after a very successful run for both you and BOOM! Studios. What has it been like working on this project for the past few years, and being able to work within actual film continuity with characters from one of modern day horror’s most lauded franchises?”
Michael Alan Nelson“It truly has been one of the best creative experiences of my life. It’s been challenging and, at times, incredibly difficult. But it has always been fun. It isn’t very often when a writer gets the opportunity to work with a franchise they’ve loved since it first appeared. I can distinctly remember how much an impact the film had on me. And to be given the chance to write for that franchise, to add to it? It’s been simply amazing.”
THEoDEAD“Obviously the focal point of “28 DAYS LATER” has been the character of Selena, whom fans will recognize from the first film. The character was shrouded in a lot of mystery in the film, but you were given the task of bringing her out into the open so to speak. How challenging was it to tackle a character like this and bring her to fans in an entirely new light?”
Michael Alan Nelson“It was quite challenging. When we first meet her in the film, she’s hard as nails and has only one goal: survive. But as the film progresses, we see her soften just a bit. She slowly reveals a vulnerability. So when I started looking into what kind of character she would be for the series, I wanted to bring that vulnerability, her humanity to the fore. I just had to make sure that everything I wrote fit within the parameters of the franchise. Even though it was terribly exciting to write one of my favorite characters, it was also terribly frightening. The last thing in the world I wanted was to write her in a way the Powers That Be did not approve of. Thankfully, everyone was more concerned about her as a character than as just a simple Infected Killing Machine, so they were very receptive to my ideas for developing her character.”
THEoDEAD“Sticking with the topic of Selena for a moment, the character has suffered a lot of loss in the series now 2 year run. Some of that has been in the present, but it is her losses from her past that really marked her for the rest of her life and made her into the character we know today. But with “28 DAYS LATER” you were actually working with film continuity. How much of her past was a part of that and how much of it did you have to sit down and bring to life yourself?”
Michael Alan Nelson“Before I started writing the series, I was given an outline written by Alex Garland that set the stage for the series. So I already knew that Selena would start in a refugee camp and that it would be a dream of her dead husband that would spur her into accepting Clint’s offer. I also knew that her ultimate goal was to bury her husband at the end of the series. But that was it. I had to figure out what the dream was, how she killed her husband, the circumstances leading up to his death, how Selena got her machete, and how she eventually became the person she is today. So I went back and watched the film a few times to see if there was anything there that might help me, any hints to her character that could give me a foundation to build on. And what I noticed was that through the entire film, she is wearing a pair of earrings (and a pendant underneath her clothing). That got me thinking. Here is this gorgeous bad-ass hurling molotov cocktails and wielding a machete in the middle of an apocalypse. What the hell is she doing wearing earrings? Was she trying to retain an aspect of her femininity? Did she just liked how they looked? I’m not sure if it was just something the costume design folks decided on just for the fun of it or if they had a specific reason, but I thought it was too interesting not to use. So I used it to anchor her to her past by having her dream of the night her husband gave her that jewelry. Those earrings and what they represent then became her entire motivation for the series. Once I had that, it was much easier to flesh out her character.”
THEoDEAD“There have been a healthy amount of artists who have donated their own personal styles to the series since its inception. Visually, how was it translating the film to the page, and how did that metamorphosis evolve over the years?”
Michael Alan Nelson“As much as I would like to, I can’t take credit for the awesome visual style of the series. That honor belongs to Declan Shalvey. He did such a fantastic job setting the visual tone for the series. And fortunately, Ale Aragon and the other artists that came along after Dec kept that visual style humming along perfectly. Thanks to them, it is seriously one of the best looking series I’ve ever written.”
THEoDEAD“A lot of the danger that has been facing the survivors as of late, but has been touched on for almost the entire run, has been not “The Infected”, but humanity. Whether it be big government, the military, or simply cells of fellow survivors, the series has had an emphasis on the dangers of the human instinct to survive. Could you tell us a little more about that development within the series, and maybe more-so to the point – was it important to you as the writer to really express that facet of the “28 DAYS LATER” world?”
Michael Alan Nelson“It was ABSOLUTELY important for me to express that facet in the series. I mean, that’s what it’s all about. Having Infected wrecking shop is fantastic fun, but the novelty of that zombie aspect wears off rather quickly. When it comes to conflict, Man vs. Infected is pretty black and white. But Man vs. Infected vs. Man? It adds a whole rainbow of conflicts and story possibilities. And it really gave me a chance to explore different perspectives withing this apocalyptic world. Some just want to survive, some willing to anything to do so regardless of whom they hurt along the way. Others seek to find advantage. And some find liberation in the lack of social constraints which allows them to embrace the sadistic monster that civilization forced them to keep locked inside. There are myriad directions to go, all with great story potential. And it’s this human aspect that makes the series so compelling. It isn’t about the Infected, it’s about the people trying to make their way in a world overrun with Infected.”
THEoDEAD“Selena is now at a very important juncture in her lifespan. What can you tell readers and fans about the next few issues leading up to the series’ end? What can we expect for Selena moving forward? Is there any sort of salvation in sight for her?”
Michael Alan Nelson“If I said anything at this point, I’d be giving things away. But if you’ve seen the movie 28 Weeks Later, then you know what’s about to happen. And as I think most of my readers know, I’m not afraid to kill anybody. So all I will say is this: Selena deserves happiness. Some people in life get what they deserve. Unfortunately, some people don’t. Do I give Selena what she deserves? You’ll have to read the rest to find out.”
THEoDEAD“Now that we are obviously at the end of the “28 DAYS LATER” run, looking back over the past few years, what are you most proud of? Is there any specific instance that you still look back on and go “You know what, I freaking NAILED that!”? Or, on the flipside of that token, maybe a moment that you thought that you could have gone just a bit further with?”
Michael Alan Nelson“Oh, wow. That’s a really tough question. Looking back there are definitely things I wish I could have done differently, but it’s always like that. I don’t think there’s anything I’ve ever written that I don’t look back on and think, “Damn, I should have done this or shouldn’t have done that.” 20/20 hindsight and all. I would have liked to have developed the Glasgow and Edinburgh factions a bit more. There was some really juicy potential there for some great character bits but I just didn’t have the real estate to do it. I also wish I could have come up with a better way for Selena to kill Captain Stiles. We know from the film that there were land mines in that garden in front of the Worsley House, but for any readers that hadn’t seen the movie, his death would have seemed to come out of nowhere. I could have done that better.
As for things that I’m proud of, there are actually quite a few. I’m fond of the camera flash in the elevator shaft, Douglas’ freak-out at hearing about life as normal outside of Great Britain, the death of Derrick, Selena’s revenge for Douglas’ death and risking her life just to watch the facility burn, the mannequin, Selena going all in at poker, Captain Stiles’ little speech about a “bloody eagle,” Clint making a bath for Selena, and, of course, some of the parts coming up. I’ll let readers try and guess which parts those are.”
THEoDEAD“Obviously you have a lot on your plate already with your other series running currently, but down the road do you foresee more adventures within this universe, or do you view this storyline as the end of the Selena mythos?”
Michael Alan Nelson“I think it really is the end of the Selena mythos. If they wanted me to write more either with Selena or just in the general 28 Days Later universe, I’d do it in a heartbeat. But as of right now it looks as if this is it. And I’m fine with that. We got to tell the story we set out to tell. It wasn’t cut short and it wasn’t padded just to squeeze out more issues. This is Selena’s story and I’m proud that I got to tell it.”
THEoDEAD“How can fans keep up with you and your other projects now that the series has come to an end? Do you have any other projects on the way?”
Michael Alan Nelson“I’m really easy to find online. You can follow me on twitter @roquesdoodle or at my blog. You can also find me on Facebook (just look for Michael Alan Nelson) and I’m always lurking at the BOOM! forums and many other popular comics forums. As for projects, I have two mini-series hitting shelves right now: Insurrection 3.6 and Malignant Man. Beyond that, I don’t have anything else at the moment, but I’m hoping to line up some more projects really soon. And as soon as I do, I’ll be announcing them at the places mentioned above.”
We would like to thank Michael for doing this interview with us and wish him luck the rest of the way with the series. For those of you who haven’t yet, you can pick up the first four “28 DAYS LATER” trades from BOOM! Studios at your favorite book store today. Also, be sure to keep it locked here at Graphic Content as we continue to bring you more exclusive interviews from BOOM! and all of your favorite publishers every week.
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