As revealed at the recent Marvel: Next Big Thing panel at FanExpo Canada, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and artist Peter Nguyen are bringing back one of the most beloved Crossgen series, ‘Route 666,’ for a new generation. The four issue mini doesn’t start until February of 2012, but we chatted with Aguire-Sacasa right now about the book, how it will be different from the previous series, and just where he gets his inspiration (note: it isn’t a Johnny Rockets):
MTV Geek: Let's talk about Route 666... What's the general concept of the series?
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa: It's a horror/crime series set in the 1950s, along historic Route 66, which runs from Chicago to Los Angeles. Two deputies cruise the highway, the "mother-road," as it's called, investigating paranormal crimes and events.
Geek: Who is Evan Cisco?
RAS: He's our strong, silent, brooding lead. He's a US Marshall dealing with all sorts of monsters and demons on the job and a crumbling marriage at home--complicated by the fact that he spends most of his time on the road, away from home. He's a pragmatist; also, he may have a slight drinking problem.
Geek: And who is Cassie Starkweather?
RAS: She's Evan's partner. Also a bit of a lost soul. She's eighteen, an orphan, dealing with the fact that the rest of her family was killed in a...pretty horrific way. Unlike Cisco, who's pretty nuts-and-bolts, salt of the earth, Cassie's got a paranormal ability to "read" psychic energy and residue. To see people's true, hidden selves. She's an empath-plus. Attuned to frequencies invisible to most people.
Geek: I know it ran for 22 issues in olden times, but this seems like a bit of a reinvention of the property, back to basics if you will. Is that correct? Or way off base?
RAS: Definitely back to basics. There's absolutely a mythology to this world--and there are definite call-backs to the original series--but it's purposefully stripped down to these two mismatched/perfectly matched investigators trying to keep Route 66 demon-free.
Geek: For old fans of the series (like this guy [meaning me]), are we going to see teases of the old series in this book?
RAS: There will be shout-outs and Easter eggs.
Geek: I like shout-outs! Speaking of old plot threads, does this book take place on Earth now? Or is it still a planet eerily like our own?
RAS: I'm treating it as our Earth, but set in the past 1950s. As though there's been this entire secret history running parallel to our own, documented history. But same Earth.
Geek: Tell us about Peter Nguyen's art... How are you two working together on the series, and what's the general tone, artistically?
RAS: Moody, moody, moody. A sense of space and landscape--the open road. Peter's art has a great rough feel to it. It's dangerous, jagged, spiky. A great fit for the story.
Geek: The series previously was very steeped in '50s nostalgia and monster movies... Is that something you'll still be playing with here?
RAS: Absolutely. The first big set-piece takes place at a drive-in where a bunch of teenagers have gathered for an all-night horror-a-thon.
Geek: Do you have a favorite well to go to for inspiration? Like, you wrote all four issues in Johnny Rockets or something?
RAS: Believe it or not, I've been looking at a lot of Normal Rockwell paintings. Also listening to some 1950s compilations. Just to get in the mood.
Geek: You should really check out Johnnny Rockets. Great burgers! Anyway, just to wrap up, tease us - what can fans look forward to over the four issues of the series?
RAS: Besides hardcore horror? I think there will be some unexpected humor, as well. We just want it to be a great, cool, retro-journey through the dark heartland of America.