Blade Runner 2029 Vol. 1 is the officially sanctioned graphic novel prequel to the cult 1982 science fiction movie Blade Runner, co-written by the Oscar nominated writer of Blade Runner 2049 Michael Green and New York Times bestselling author Mike Johnson.
The graphic novel is set in 2029 when Blade Runner Ash is hunting the streets of the rain-soaked dystopian world of Los Angeles for renegade Replicants, trying to protect as many as she can find…
We spoke to co-writer Mike Johnson about writing Blade Runner 2029 Vol. 1, collaborating with artist Andres Guinaldo and what’s next for Ash…
How did you first get involved in writing Blade Runner 2029 Vol. 1?
My old friend and comics co-writer Michael Green, who co-wrote Blade Runner 2049, asked me to join him in building out the Blade Runner universe in comics. I said yes, easily.
Where do you begin when plotting a story and how does that evolve as the writing process goes on?
It’s a tired but true cliché that it all starts with character. In this case, it’s our Blade Runner, Ash. Out of her journey comes ideas for antagonists, plot twists, and the underlying themes of the story. I like to leave room for happy accidents to arise while writing, so I prefer not to outline the story in too much detail before I start the script.
The story spans two time periods in the Blade Runner mythology, how did you settle on when to set events?
We decided early on to show ten-year intervals in Ash’s life, so after 2019 we knew 2029 would be next. I’m hoping we get to continue her story in 2039.
Ash’s romantic relationship really seems to inform her attitude towards Replicants. How important was it to show that relationship?
Very important. Ash’s arc takes her from an extremely prejudicial view of Replicants in 2019 to her falling in love with one by 2029. Her relationship with Freysa is a reflection of her own evolution as a person, as someone who had closed off a significant part of herself as a defense mechanism in a brutal world.
The character of Yotun is a complex antagonist with very grand plans that look to shape the world of Blade Runner. What was your inspiration for him?
I wanted someone who shared Roy Batty’s determination to survive, but who would veer off into an extreme version of it. He’s a Replicant supremacist in a way that Roy wasn’t, and that creates a unique challenge for Ash.
The introduction of a cultish/religious background for the replicants’ motivations adds another layer of humanity to their struggle. How did you map out the rules for this?
It comes out of Yotun’s messianic belief in his own power and that of Replicants as essentially a superior species to humans. He’s a focal point for a Replicant population that is spread far and wide but has the potential to be an overwhelming force if they are organized. Yotun is more than happy to play that role.
Can you talk us through how you collaborated with artist Andres Guinaldo to create the look of the book?
I am a very lucky writer to have an artist like Andres as a partner. There is nothing I can write that he cannot draw. Most importantly for a franchise like Blade Runner, he is as brilliant at conveying intimate character moments as he is epic vistas. We benefit immensely from Marco Lesko’s beautiful colour palette, and Jim Campbell’s precise and fluid lettering.
What are the challenges/benefits of setting a story within a pre-existing universe? Were there any limitations?
Alcon Entertainment has been a great partner, allowing us the freedom to tell a new Blade Runner story that explores new corners of the franchise, including off-world. The only limitations have been when something we dream up might conflict with other plans in the Blade Runner pipeline.
What has the experience of working on Blade Runner Origins been like for you?
Origins has been a fantastic experience. I was onboard to develop the basic premise and lead character, but it’s really K. Perkins and Mellow Brown who have made it the book it is. I’m a sounding board for them, as they are for me, and I’m just enjoying reading it as a fan.
What’s next for you?
More Blade Running! Ash’s story is far from over, and 2039 is on the horizon…