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'Snowpiercer - Part 2: Apocalypse' creators open up about building a pre-apocalpyse in new Titan comic

By Jeff Spry
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Picking up speed as the planet plunges into a deep freeze, the second half of Titan Comics' prequel graphic novel, titled Snowpiercer The Prequel - Part 2: Apocalypse, arrives August 11 and acts as an origin story to TNT's recent Snowpiercer TV series, starring Jennifer Connelly and Daveed Diggs — and SYFY WIRE has an exclusive preview to share with passengers eager to climb aboard.

The first installment of this frigid fable, Snowpiercer The Prequel - Part 1: Extinction, was released September 24, 2019, and took place directly prior to the extinction-level Ice Age event depicted in the original 1982 French graphic novel Le Transperceneige, created by Jacques Lob and Jean-Marc Rochette.

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Written by Matz (Triggerman, The Assignment) and instilled with absorbing art by original Snowpiercer illustrator Jean-Marc Rochette, this frost-filled saga explains many unaddressed elements of the story regarding the building of the 1,001-car, perpetual motion engine supertrain and how it was enlisted into service around the globe when an ecological disaster brought on Old Man Winter.

In this 104-page hardcover follow-up, the charging Snowpiercer train makes several stops before it begins perpetually circling the globe as the final survivors of the human race start to come to terms with their new pre-apocalyptic reality. SYFY WIRE spoke to Matz and Rochette on the architecture of this second half saga and learned how it relates in an uncanny way to the pandemic crisis encompassing our planet today.

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Can you bring us up to speed on this second chapter in your Snowpiercer prequel and what fans can anticipate?

MATZ: This second chapter deals with the last moments before the train closes its doors for good. The sky is turning dark, the sun is disappearing, temperatures are sinking, people are desperate to get on the train, the organisation so carefully designed by Zheng is destroyed. Elsewhere, the “Apocalypsters,” responsible for the catastrophe, go into isolation in their secret underground facility, but there too, things don’t go as planned. That’s what we deal with in this book: chaos and madness, in the last moments of the world as we know it. And we take a look at how people behave in such circumstances. 

ROCHETTE: Indeed, the second volume deals with chaos and destruction, the end of the world is no longer in the future, it's now, you have to climb into the ark and it's a matter of life or of death. I am also particularly interested in the progressive rise of madness among the Apocalypsters, man believing himself to be the equal of God at the time of facing nothingness.

What sort of interesting research went into your worldbuilding and storycraft?

MATZ : We very carefully tried to think things through regarding what happens, how much time things need to turn into complete disaster, how fast temperature goes down and how low it goes. To write this, I spent quite some time reading about the Preppers, about the various conspiracy theories. For instance, some of the elements the Apocalypsters referred to in the book come from that research. I hate these conspiracy theories, but at the same time, they seem to be rather interesting places to go to find ideas, as they do involve quite a lot of imagination. 

ROCHETTE: I wanted this story to have a real coherence and an inexorable progression towards death, so we found strong narrative moments and especially for me scenes which bring striking images; Matz knew how to give binding and credibility to all. It was for me an example of work between two authors who complement each other to create a story together.

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Why does the Snowpiercer saga resonate so strongly with readers and audiences, especially today?

MATZ : The Snowpiercer saga resonates because it’s a lot more than just sci-fi, or some ecological tale about man destroying the planet. What brings it its flavor, on top of those, is the character study as well as the sociological study. Lob, the original creator, was a very smart, very well-read guy, from what I have gathered, so he mixed into this story several layers of concerns, of ideas, of observations. That’s what we tried to do with this new saga. Keep that same spirit alive, add some new components to it. As this is a prequel, this is not a post-apocalyptic tale, but a pre-apocalyptic tale. Which is what interested me a lot. And the fact that it is relevant and it resonates is probably linked to what it is saying about us, humans.

ROCHETTE: The first day of confinement I went out to the streets in Paris, the sky was grim gray, the people masked, haggard, stunned by the prospect of the pandemic and the catastrophic news that the media broadcast repeatedly. I said to myself, here we are, I'm in Snowpiercer ... Add to that, poverty and ecological disasters, yes, Snowpiercer is no longer science fiction but an overwhelming observation of our time.

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How does the artwork's style enhance the emotional connection to the apocalyptic story, and what keeps you inspired in that world?

MATZ: This is maybe more a question for Rochette than me, but I’d say that Rochette has developed a language, a code, for this story that matches perfectly its intentions and purposes. The way things are laid out on the page makes the whole story stronger, more relatable and scarier. We go through these pages in a hurry, eager to know what’s next, but then sometimes we are compelled to stop to admire the artwork, without ever losing track of the characters and what is going on. To me, that’s what graphic narration is all about, and I feel fortunate to work with Rochette. 

ROCHETTE: Comics is like cinema, you need a good story that interests the audience, but you also need a director, a decorator, and actors; these roles are held by the artist, and in addition there is the style, there is a style to the staging of course but there is also and perhaps especially in the comics the power of drawing, which can make the story credible and sublimate it, or destroy it. I believe that my drawing is made for the Transperceneige.

Now enjoy our 10-page preview of Titan Comics' Snowpiercer The Prequel - Part 2: Apocalypse in the gallery below.