‘Godzilla’ writer talks expanding the universe of the film in prequel graphic novel

You might recall last summer how Legendary Pictures found a way to further plumb the vast depths of Guillermo Del Toro's “Pacific Rim” with a handsome, hardcover prequel graphic novel: “Pacific Rim: Tales from Year Zero.” With cover art from celebrated artist Alex Ross and an “additive as opposed to adaptive” approach from writer Travis Beacham, the book filled in shades of information only alluded in the blockbuster film.

This year, the production company has again commissioned the screenwriter of one of their big-budget extravaganzas to expand on its further-reaching details as “Godzilla: Awakening” hits shelves Wednesday ahead of the May 16 release of Gareth Edwards' “Godzilla.”

Much like “Tales from Year Zero,” the 80-page “Awakening” stretches back to the beginnings of the plight evident in the feature. Screenwriter Max Borenstein jumped at the opportunity to work up the graphic novel with his cousin Greg as the two had already been working together on a separate comic book project. It was a form he wasn't familiar with but one he was eager to investigate.

“It was fascinating and an interesting learning curve, diving in and exploring the ways of telling a story visually, but in a very different style than you would do in a film,” Borenstein says.

Legendary didn't come to him with a specific idea for the ancillary tale, but like any writer bound by the running time of his or her film, he relished the chance to expand on some things he merely touched upon in the film. So he quickly settled on a way into the book.

“My mind immediately went to this germ of an idea that was a piece of backstory having to do with Surizawa's father and his experiences in the war and the pocket watch,” Borenstein says. In the film, Ken Watanabe's character, Ichiru Serizawa (a call-back to Daisuke Serizawa-hakase, the hero of the 1954 original film played by Akihiko Hirata), carries a weathered pocket watch that has stopped at 8:15, the precise time of the 1945 Hiroshima atomic bomb strike.

“That kind of became the genesis that I explored further, and it was great to have the opportunity to expand the universe that we had been developing in the film,” Borenstein says.

For the cover art this time around, Legendary was again able to secure one of the top artists working in comics. Arthur Adams has been drawing Godzilla for years, stretching all the way back to the early '90s. He has an affinity for classic monsters in general, having also inked the likes of King Kong and the Creature from the Black Lagoon, so he was a perfect fit to help tie this project to the character's pre-existing comic book roots.

“The moment I was made aware that Greg and I were putting together a Godzilla book in conjunction with Legendary's new film, two words immediately popped into my head: ARTHUR. ADAMS.,” Borenstein writes in the closing pages of the book. “We both share a burning passion for the beast, but Arthur draws him better than anyone else on the planet.”

The story itself was illustrated by Eric Battle, Yvel Guichet, Alan Quah and Lee Loughridge.

There's a lot more than that explored in the book, but not so much that it would hinder your experience of the film. So pick it up when it releases tomorrow and lay the groundwork for the latest and greatest big screen vision of Gojira to date.

In the meantime, go inside the new graphic novel with a special look at some of the artwork and pages below!

Be sure to check back next week for an extended interview with Borenstein about the process of writing the new film. “Godzilla” arrives in theaters on May 16.