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Back to the Future's Biggest Questions Are Answered in Doc Brown's DeLorean Owner's Manual

A crop of the cover for the upcoming Back to the Future: DeLorean Time Machine: Doc Brown’s Owners’ Workshop Manual.
A crop of the cover for the upcoming Back to the Future: DeLorean Time Machine: Doc Brown’s Owners’ Workshop Manual.
Image: Insight Editions

When did Doc Brown meet Marty McFly? What did the inventor do when he first arrived in 1885? How did he find out about the future of the McFly family? Questions like these have fascinated Back to the Future fans for years and soon they’ll have official answers. Leave it to Doc to hide some of his biggest secrets in the most unlikely of places, though.

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io9 is excited to exclusively reveal the cover, first images, and info from Insight Editions’ new book—Back to the Future: DeLorean Time Machine: Doc Brown’s Owners’ Workshop Manual. Written by franchise co-writer and creator Bob Gale, as well as leading DeLorean expert Joe Walser, the book at first appears to be just some beautiful, technical pictures of all the nooks and crannies of everyone’s favorite time machine, but it’s more than that. Much more. It’s filled with entries from Doc Brown’s personal journals that fill in gaps and tell stories Back to the Future fans have always dreamed of.

“It seemed natural that we would want to fill in the backstory of Doc’s early time travel experiments and how he arrived at the point of putting it into a car and then expanding it even further to fill in all the great little missing stories that you just kind of assume from the movies,” Gale told io9 over the phone. “But here we are saying, ‘Okay, this is how Doc met Marty. This is what happened to Doc when he first arrived in 2015. This is how he survived in the Old West until Marty came back for him.’ These are questions people always ask me.”

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An exclusive reveal of a spread from Back to the Future: DeLorean Time Machine: Doc Brown’s Owners’ Workshop Manual
Image: Insight Editions

Before you say it, yes. Some of the stories have been told before in the IDW comic Gale wrote with John Barber and Erik Burnham, and Gale gives that team full credit for helping develop those ideas. Here though, they serve a different purpose, are told in a more personal way, and will likely reach a different audience.

“This way we could humanize [the book] and make it not just solely technical,” Gale said. “I thought to myself, ‘Gee, would my daughter want to read this book?’ And, once we had the Doc Brown journals working for us, I said ‘Yeah of course she’s going to want to read this. She may not know what a tachyon generator is or care, but she’ll want to know what did Doc do when he first arrived in 1885.”

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You will know what a tachyon generator is after reading the book, though, that’s for sure. While Gale mostly handled those journals, the main drive of the book is the unprecedented detail fans will get about everything in not just the original DeLorean, but the 2015 version, 1885's, and even the elusive Time Train. Those sections of the book were handled primarily by Joe Walser, a film effects expert whose passion for the film’s famous vehicle was so well known, Universal asked him to help restore the original, screen-used car to place in the Petersen Automative Museum in Los Angeles, CA.

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Another exclusive reveal of a spread in Back to the Future: DeLorean Time Machine: Doc Brown’s Owners’ Workshop Manual
Image: Insight Editions
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Walser’s expertise began years ago when he decided he wanted to build his own DeLorean. “I just I really wanted to get everything right on my own time machine and I realized there wasn’t actually a lot of information out there outside of production, the people that built it originally,” he said. “So I reached out one at a time to everybody I could find and followed in the footsteps of the original builders and talked to them a lot. And I made a lot of discoveries just with boots on the ground searching aircraft surplus and electronic surplus type places for all the parts. One by one, I identified the majority of them.”

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That, the restoration, and a budding friendship with Gale, made him a perfect collaborator on the book. Together they named pieces of the car that didn’t have any, dove deep into Andrew Probert and Ron Cobb’s original designs and research, and enjoyed giving Back to the Future fans things they’ve always wanted, but perhaps never knew they wanted.

“The DeLorean is the coolest, most iconic car ever, but it’s not as cool without the stories,” Walser said. “The car to me is one of the main characters in the movie and so the car needs a story too.”

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The cover.
Image: Insight Editions

Basically, the Owner’s Manual has something for everyone: the Back to the Future fan dying to find out more about the franchise as well as the tech expert who wants to know the name of every single knickknack and doohickey on every version of the time machine. Opening and reading the book is kind of like traveling back in time itself and becoming a part of the world.

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“This book is like if you were able to go over to Doc Brown’s house and just kind of dig around through it and find all this cool stuff,” Gale said. “It’s fleshing out more details about this guy that you know but now you’re going to know a whole lot more about him and a whole lot more about his theories.”

And way, way more about his ride.

Back to the Future: DeLorean Time Machine: Doc Brown’s Owners’ Workshop Manual is available for pre-order now and will be released on March 30, 2021 and costs $30.

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Correction 12/8/2020, 2:05 p.m. ET: The article originally had the book’s old release date of March 3. That has now been updated.

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Entertainment Reporter. NYU Cinema Studies Alum. Formerly Premiere, EW, Us Weekly, and /Film. AP Award-Winning Film Critic & CCA member. Loves Star Wars, posters, Legos, and often all three at once.

DISCUSSION

whiggly
Whiggly

On science fiction, are you guys going to cover the latest claim by the former head of Israel’s space agency. It’s a fucking doozy.