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KONAMI & C

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IDW’s VIDEO GAME COMICS

During IDW’s first decade, one of the company’s

most crucial relationships has been with video game-

industry heavyweight Konami. At IDW’s start, the

four founders were in our late twenties or early

thirties... so naturally we were all video game addicts. Everyone our age had grown up cutting their teeth on those primitive early systems like Atari and Intellivison. But by the end of the century, the games had made a quantum leap, and we couldn’t believe what they were capable of doing. Far from simple shooters, these games took place in richly imagined worlds, with engaging characters and intricate storylines–perfect for comics. We’d all dealt with video games on one level or another in our pre-IDW days, and when we struck out on our own it was with dreams of dealing with one company in particular–Konami. Konami was somewhat of the Holy Grail of licensors, both because they had the best and hottest games, and ________________________________________ Opposite Page: Solid Snake by Ashley Wood.

because of the number of failed applicants that had tried to obtain the license to their games in the past. They were proud of their titles, and extremely picky about who would interpret them. Many meetings, elaborate pitch-pieces, and tense moments of suspense later, it was a reality. Over the course of our relationship, we’ve put out comics, trade paperbacks, and even a PSP-only comic, featuring Konami’s best and most well-respected franchises–Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill, and Castlevania. Kris Oprisko talks to a creator from each series to hear the inner thoughts and creative inspiration that resulted in their work.

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KONAMI & C

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IDW’s VIDEO GAME COMICS

During IDW’s first decade, one of the company’s

most crucial relationships has been with video game-

industry heavyweight Konami. At IDW’s start, the

four founders were in our late twenties or early

thirties... so naturally we were all video game addicts. Everyone our age had grown up cutting their teeth on those primitive early systems like Atari and Intellivison. But by the end of the century, the games had made a quantum leap, and we couldn’t believe what they were capable of doing. Far from simple shooters, these games took place in richly imagined worlds, with engaging characters and intricate storylines–perfect for comics. We’d all dealt with video games on one level or another in our pre-IDW days, and when we struck out on our own it was with dreams of dealing with one company in particular–Konami. Konami was somewhat of the Holy Grail of licensors, both because they had the best and hottest games, and ________________________________________ Opposite Page: Solid Snake by Ashley Wood.

because of the number of failed applicants that had tried to obtain the license to their games in the past. They were proud of their titles, and extremely picky about who would interpret them. Many meetings, elaborate pitch-pieces, and tense moments of suspense later, it was a reality. Over the course of our relationship, we’ve put out comics, trade paperbacks, and even a PSP-only comic, featuring Konami’s best and most well-respected franchises–Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill, and Castlevania. Kris Oprisko talks to a creator from each series to hear the inner thoughts and creative inspiration that resulted in their work.

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____________________________________________________________ This Page and Opposite Page: Metal Gear Solid art by Ashley Wood.

Metal Gear Solid Although best known for his inking and penciling talents, IDW co-founder Alex Garner has also penned several comic books. After helping Kris Oprisko with the writing of the original Metal Gear Solid series, Alex took over full scripting duties for the second installment, Sons of Liberty. • • • • KO: So, Metal Gear Solid… This was something we'd all wanted to do for a long time. I remember even going back to the WildStorm days, Ted was determined to make a Metal Gear comic, but Hideo Kojima [Metal Gear Solid creator] was turning down all proposals. We worked with Ash on a pitch that Ted and I made to Kojima in Los Angeles. We mocked up a comic book and Ash did several pin-ups that we turned into posters. 124

Kojima really responded to Ash’s art and Ted was able to work out a deal with Konami’s President. If I remember correctly it was our second licensed title [CSI was first]. I started off writing the first series and you wrote the second, but from day one you were helping me out with the plotting. Do you remember those early days of the project? AG: I do. I recall a lot of excitement around the office when we finally got that project. As you said, you started the series with scripting, but since I knew the game reasonably well from playing it, I was helping you with research on the overall, labyrinthine plotline of the series. So, while you were going through the actual game for the plot, I was digging in to online resources and strategy guides we had worked on to grasp the basic gist of Metal Gear’s mythology. 125


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____________________________________________________________ This Page and Opposite Page: Metal Gear Solid art by Ashley Wood.

Metal Gear Solid Although best known for his inking and penciling talents, IDW co-founder Alex Garner has also penned several comic books. After helping Kris Oprisko with the writing of the original Metal Gear Solid series, Alex took over full scripting duties for the second installment, Sons of Liberty. • • • • KO: So, Metal Gear Solid… This was something we'd all wanted to do for a long time. I remember even going back to the WildStorm days, Ted was determined to make a Metal Gear comic, but Hideo Kojima [Metal Gear Solid creator] was turning down all proposals. We worked with Ash on a pitch that Ted and I made to Kojima in Los Angeles. We mocked up a comic book and Ash did several pin-ups that we turned into posters. 124

Kojima really responded to Ash’s art and Ted was able to work out a deal with Konami’s President. If I remember correctly it was our second licensed title [CSI was first]. I started off writing the first series and you wrote the second, but from day one you were helping me out with the plotting. Do you remember those early days of the project? AG: I do. I recall a lot of excitement around the office when we finally got that project. As you said, you started the series with scripting, but since I knew the game reasonably well from playing it, I was helping you with research on the overall, labyrinthine plotline of the series. So, while you were going through the actual game for the plot, I was digging in to online resources and strategy guides we had worked on to grasp the basic gist of Metal Gear’s mythology. 125


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_____________________ Raiden by Ashley Wood.

KO: Usually with licensed books you have to hit the character model exactly, but Kojima didn't want that at all–instead he wanted Ash to have more of a free hand in bringing his own look to the project. But at the same time, the script didn't have that freedom. There was a pre-existing story, and it had to be told. Do you think this added any difficulty to writing Sons of Liberty? AG: Strangely, no. I believe that freedom empowered Ash and I to do a better job. I kind of approached this as if it were a director's cut DVD. In other words, I envisioned deleted scenes outside of the game that could expand upon various characters' personalities and motivations. So, if Kojima had barely touched upon an aspect of a character's past, such as Raiden as a child soldier in Liberia, I would just pick up that ball and run with it. It was fun stuff. KO: I remember the many conversations we had about your greatest challenge on that book–namely, fitting the huge amount of story material found in the game in a finite, 12-issue 126

_____________________________________________________________________ Konami animated the IDW Metal Gear Solid comics and initially released them for Sony’s PSP. This Japanese-only DVD release includes both Metal Gear Solid and Metal Gear Solid: Sons of Liberty.

comic series. Talk about the challenge that presented… AG: This was, of course, the big dilemma when it came to writing this adaptation. I recently read a magazine that ranked the most convoluted video game plotlines of all time, and Metal Gear Solid was firmly on top of the list. And on top of that, the Sons of Liberty chapter was easily the most complex of the Metal Gear series, so my work was definitely cut out for me. So, to be reasonably successful, I had to carefully outline and edit all twelve issues beforehand so that only the barebones skeleton of the basic story was left. Anything–and I mean anything–that I felt was extraneous or confusing had to go. And even after all that paring down, I still had great difficulty telling an accessible story that was still faithful to the game. It was a tremendous challenge, to say the least. KO: I wrote the initial MGS series when Ash was in Australia, using the Nintendo Game Cube Twin Snakes version, with a ____________________ Vamp by Ashley Wood. 127


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_____________________ Raiden by Ashley Wood.

KO: Usually with licensed books you have to hit the character model exactly, but Kojima didn't want that at all–instead he wanted Ash to have more of a free hand in bringing his own look to the project. But at the same time, the script didn't have that freedom. There was a pre-existing story, and it had to be told. Do you think this added any difficulty to writing Sons of Liberty? AG: Strangely, no. I believe that freedom empowered Ash and I to do a better job. I kind of approached this as if it were a director's cut DVD. In other words, I envisioned deleted scenes outside of the game that could expand upon various characters' personalities and motivations. So, if Kojima had barely touched upon an aspect of a character's past, such as Raiden as a child soldier in Liberia, I would just pick up that ball and run with it. It was fun stuff. KO: I remember the many conversations we had about your greatest challenge on that book–namely, fitting the huge amount of story material found in the game in a finite, 12-issue 126

_____________________________________________________________________ Konami animated the IDW Metal Gear Solid comics and initially released them for Sony’s PSP. This Japanese-only DVD release includes both Metal Gear Solid and Metal Gear Solid: Sons of Liberty.

comic series. Talk about the challenge that presented… AG: This was, of course, the big dilemma when it came to writing this adaptation. I recently read a magazine that ranked the most convoluted video game plotlines of all time, and Metal Gear Solid was firmly on top of the list. And on top of that, the Sons of Liberty chapter was easily the most complex of the Metal Gear series, so my work was definitely cut out for me. So, to be reasonably successful, I had to carefully outline and edit all twelve issues beforehand so that only the barebones skeleton of the basic story was left. Anything–and I mean anything–that I felt was extraneous or confusing had to go. And even after all that paring down, I still had great difficulty telling an accessible story that was still faithful to the game. It was a tremendous challenge, to say the least. KO: I wrote the initial MGS series when Ash was in Australia, using the Nintendo Game Cube Twin Snakes version, with a ____________________ Vamp by Ashley Wood. 127


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god code to allow me to linger in areas without getting killed. I'd record with a VCR while playing and then send Ash the tapes to work from. During Sons of Liberty, though, I believe Ash was back in California. Did you also make gameplay tapes for him? I remember you using the Metal Gear Document disc pretty heavily… AG: I didn't make tapes. I used the Document of Metal Gear Solid 2 PS2 disc with all the 3D data and cutscenes available and sent a twin disc to Ash. Then I created a system whereby I would refer to a scene or character on the disc in my script which could then be referenced on his disc. I think it made the process much easier for both of us.

KO: I know Ash loved the Metal Gear villains– especially Revolver Ocelot–best. Same for you, or are you more of a Snake fan? AG: No, I totally agree with Ash. I absolutely love Kojima's villains. He's so good at coming up with cool and quirky characters. Revolver Ocelot is definitely a blast to write for a myriad of reasons. I also enjoyed scripting Fatman, just because he's such a lunatic. The wackier they are, the more room you have to be creative. KO: As someone who started as a fan of the video games who later became a creator telling the story of the games, did your perspective change at all on the storyline or characters? AG: Not too much. Like most people, I initially thought Raiden was a poorly fleshed-out character in the video game, which was actually by Kojima's design as he wanted him to be a blank slate for ______________________ Fortune by Ashley Wood. 128

___________________________ Cyborg Ninja by Ashley Wood.

the real world player to “become.” That idea, however, does not easily work for a comic book, if at all. To be sustainable, the protagonist has to be appealing and interesting in some fashion, so my task was to craft a history and personality for him that was only vaguely implied in the game. And to cover my bets I simply added a lot more of Snake into the storyline than was in the actual game. More Snake and less Raiden was one of the few explicit requests Kojima gave before I started Sons of Liberty. I guess he finally recognized that the fans in the US preferred Snake far more than Raiden. But I have to say I do appreciate Raiden a lot more now after writing the series, so in this my perspective has changed. KO: What about these days–are you still playing video games? What systems do you have, and which games are currently eating away your leisure hours? AG: Well, sadly, that's an easy answer. Primarily, I play World of Warcraft, along with 11 million other addicts. I'm a big fan of Blizzard's games and I'm sure I'll waste another few years of my life on Diablo 3 once they release that, so it seems as though that one company has monopolized most of my gaming time. They're devious that way. ________________________________________________ The European, Japanese, and U.S. releases of Konami’s animated version of IDW’s Metal Gear Solid.


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god code to allow me to linger in areas without getting killed. I'd record with a VCR while playing and then send Ash the tapes to work from. During Sons of Liberty, though, I believe Ash was back in California. Did you also make gameplay tapes for him? I remember you using the Metal Gear Document disc pretty heavily… AG: I didn't make tapes. I used the Document of Metal Gear Solid 2 PS2 disc with all the 3D data and cutscenes available and sent a twin disc to Ash. Then I created a system whereby I would refer to a scene or character on the disc in my script which could then be referenced on his disc. I think it made the process much easier for both of us.

KO: I know Ash loved the Metal Gear villains– especially Revolver Ocelot–best. Same for you, or are you more of a Snake fan? AG: No, I totally agree with Ash. I absolutely love Kojima's villains. He's so good at coming up with cool and quirky characters. Revolver Ocelot is definitely a blast to write for a myriad of reasons. I also enjoyed scripting Fatman, just because he's such a lunatic. The wackier they are, the more room you have to be creative. KO: As someone who started as a fan of the video games who later became a creator telling the story of the games, did your perspective change at all on the storyline or characters? AG: Not too much. Like most people, I initially thought Raiden was a poorly fleshed-out character in the video game, which was actually by Kojima's design as he wanted him to be a blank slate for ______________________ Fortune by Ashley Wood. 128

___________________________ Cyborg Ninja by Ashley Wood.

the real world player to “become.” That idea, however, does not easily work for a comic book, if at all. To be sustainable, the protagonist has to be appealing and interesting in some fashion, so my task was to craft a history and personality for him that was only vaguely implied in the game. And to cover my bets I simply added a lot more of Snake into the storyline than was in the actual game. More Snake and less Raiden was one of the few explicit requests Kojima gave before I started Sons of Liberty. I guess he finally recognized that the fans in the US preferred Snake far more than Raiden. But I have to say I do appreciate Raiden a lot more now after writing the series, so in this my perspective has changed. KO: What about these days–are you still playing video games? What systems do you have, and which games are currently eating away your leisure hours? AG: Well, sadly, that's an easy answer. Primarily, I play World of Warcraft, along with 11 million other addicts. I'm a big fan of Blizzard's games and I'm sure I'll waste another few years of my life on Diablo 3 once they release that, so it seems as though that one company has monopolized most of my gaming time. They're devious that way. ________________________________________________ The European, Japanese, and U.S. releases of Konami’s animated version of IDW’s Metal Gear Solid.


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Silent Hill Scott Ciencin is a writer of novels, screenplays, and comics who has written the lion’s share of the Silent Hill material that IDW has published over the years. His nightmarish visions of the mysterious town and its black-hearted denizens have forever added to Silent Hill lore. • • • • KO: We worked together on a bunch of Silent Hill titles over the years… I believe that I chose your work originally from a sample concept you'd sent me, is that how you remember it? SC: First off, let me take this chance to thank you for all your encouragement and guidance on those stories. You were fantastic and you really helped me to just push the limits with the series. As for how it started, I remember it a little differently. When the first Silent Hill game came out, I went to my friend Jeff Mariotte, who was, at the time, an editor at WildStorm, and suggested that WildStorm pick up the license. That didn’t happen, but later, when IDW acquired the rights, Jeff remembered that and recommended me for the job. Then you contacted me and gave me a chance to outline how I would approach translating the game to comics and we went from there. I really appreciated the freedom I was given to explore that world. KO: How extensive was your knowledge of the video games before you started working on Silent Hill? Are you currently a player? SC: The truth is that I love these games, but I get motion sickness really easily. I would play Wolfenstein 3D and Doom in the 90s for hours and always have to keep anti-nausea meds handy. I’d still end up dizzy, but it was fun. So a game would really have to be a grabber for me to go through that. Being a fan of Asian horror films and Clive Barker novels, Silent 132

______________________________________________ Art from Silent Hill: Dying Inside by Ben Templesmith.

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Silent Hill Scott Ciencin is a writer of novels, screenplays, and comics who has written the lion’s share of the Silent Hill material that IDW has published over the years. His nightmarish visions of the mysterious town and its black-hearted denizens have forever added to Silent Hill lore. • • • • KO: We worked together on a bunch of Silent Hill titles over the years… I believe that I chose your work originally from a sample concept you'd sent me, is that how you remember it? SC: First off, let me take this chance to thank you for all your encouragement and guidance on those stories. You were fantastic and you really helped me to just push the limits with the series. As for how it started, I remember it a little differently. When the first Silent Hill game came out, I went to my friend Jeff Mariotte, who was, at the time, an editor at WildStorm, and suggested that WildStorm pick up the license. That didn’t happen, but later, when IDW acquired the rights, Jeff remembered that and recommended me for the job. Then you contacted me and gave me a chance to outline how I would approach translating the game to comics and we went from there. I really appreciated the freedom I was given to explore that world. KO: How extensive was your knowledge of the video games before you started working on Silent Hill? Are you currently a player? SC: The truth is that I love these games, but I get motion sickness really easily. I would play Wolfenstein 3D and Doom in the 90s for hours and always have to keep anti-nausea meds handy. I’d still end up dizzy, but it was fun. So a game would really have to be a grabber for me to go through that. Being a fan of Asian horror films and Clive Barker novels, Silent 132

______________________________________________ Art from Silent Hill: Dying Inside by Ben Templesmith.

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Hill was the one I would keep up with. I still play from time to time. KO: The world of Silent Hill is a deep psychological one, giving you almost free rein to concoct your most horrific environments. And it's vaguely defined–is Silent Hill a place for the guilty to be punished, or for psychological scars to be opened, or simply Hell? Do you have an overarching idea of what the place is, or do you like its slipperiness? SC: The short answer would be, “All of the above!” I have an idea of why it worked on me, why I connected with it, and I like that it is open for interpretation and that everyone sees it a little differently. The longer answer would go back to my original treatment for the series. I was given a great deal of freedom to come up with an approach for Silent Hill in comics. So my thought was to reverse-engineer the environment and see if I could come up with a theory about what the original creators had in mind. In essence, I had been a huge fan of J-horror long before the Americanization of The Ring came out in this country. I lived in Orlando, where we had a huge Asian quarter, and I had a video membership at an Asian grocery, where you could rent or buy VCDs the moment they were available from Asia in the original language, with English and several other language subtitles. So I saw Silent Hill as an 134

_________________________________________ Previous Page: Art from Silent Hill: Dying Inside by Aadi Salman.

outgrowth of movies like Inner Senses and Another Heaven, which were very psychological and used their monsters as outward symbols for mental ills, trauma, and character conflicts. It felt obvious to me that the game designers were big fans of horror films and novels… many of the streets are named for authors or are references to films, all of which I loved, too. So I thought the designers might have been looking at this as their chance to create a world that paid homage to all that inspired them and add their own unique views. In keeping with that, I approached Silent Hill as if I was getting the chance to do the same thing. I tried to break down the purpose of the town, in storytelling terms, which, yes, worked well as a crucible into which you could send flawed characters and have their inner conflicts externalized, and went from there. More like it was the elevator to judgment and you have a last chance to end up damned or to redeem yourself depending on your actions and your choices here. And Konami was incredibly receptive. KO: Where do you get your ideas for horror material such as Silent Hill? What's your wellspring of inspiration? SC: I went through and witnessed some pretty rough stuff when I was very young, some that was so terrible it turned out I had blocked it out of my mind for decades and only learned about it later when I found court and medical records about the events. ___________________________________________ This Page: Art from Silent Hill: Among the Damned by Shaun Thomas.

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Hill was the one I would keep up with. I still play from time to time. KO: The world of Silent Hill is a deep psychological one, giving you almost free rein to concoct your most horrific environments. And it's vaguely defined–is Silent Hill a place for the guilty to be punished, or for psychological scars to be opened, or simply Hell? Do you have an overarching idea of what the place is, or do you like its slipperiness? SC: The short answer would be, “All of the above!” I have an idea of why it worked on me, why I connected with it, and I like that it is open for interpretation and that everyone sees it a little differently. The longer answer would go back to my original treatment for the series. I was given a great deal of freedom to come up with an approach for Silent Hill in comics. So my thought was to reverse-engineer the environment and see if I could come up with a theory about what the original creators had in mind. In essence, I had been a huge fan of J-horror long before the Americanization of The Ring came out in this country. I lived in Orlando, where we had a huge Asian quarter, and I had a video membership at an Asian grocery, where you could rent or buy VCDs the moment they were available from Asia in the original language, with English and several other language subtitles. So I saw Silent Hill as an 134

_________________________________________ Previous Page: Art from Silent Hill: Dying Inside by Aadi Salman.

outgrowth of movies like Inner Senses and Another Heaven, which were very psychological and used their monsters as outward symbols for mental ills, trauma, and character conflicts. It felt obvious to me that the game designers were big fans of horror films and novels… many of the streets are named for authors or are references to films, all of which I loved, too. So I thought the designers might have been looking at this as their chance to create a world that paid homage to all that inspired them and add their own unique views. In keeping with that, I approached Silent Hill as if I was getting the chance to do the same thing. I tried to break down the purpose of the town, in storytelling terms, which, yes, worked well as a crucible into which you could send flawed characters and have their inner conflicts externalized, and went from there. More like it was the elevator to judgment and you have a last chance to end up damned or to redeem yourself depending on your actions and your choices here. And Konami was incredibly receptive. KO: Where do you get your ideas for horror material such as Silent Hill? What's your wellspring of inspiration? SC: I went through and witnessed some pretty rough stuff when I was very young, some that was so terrible it turned out I had blocked it out of my mind for decades and only learned about it later when I found court and medical records about the events. ___________________________________________ This Page: Art from Silent Hill: Among the Damned by Shaun Thomas.

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Little flashes of memory came back after that, but not much, though it clearly informs on the work. So that’s always with me, and it’s clearly why I started escaping at an early age into worlds of my imagination and seeking out more and more fantastic and even extreme places to visit. Also, I originally wanted to be a comic-book artist… as a kid I primarily started writing so that I would have sample scripts to illustrate. So I’ve always thought visually, and I’ve always been drawn to fantastic, visually special worlds where you’re seeing truly original visions, and developed a love for creating my own. To an extent then, it’s from personal experience that I started, in fiction, externalizing internal trauma so that it could be dealt with. And that’s very cathartic. I find the question raised on HBO’s In Treatment to be really fascinating… is it better to live an examined or unexamined life? In Silent Hill, you often have characters who don’t examine their lives being forced to do so, and that’s very dramatic. KO: The horrific child-monster Christabella and her sister Lauryn, introduced in Dead/Alive, feature in a number of your Silent Hill stories… what made you return to those characters when writing Silent Hill? SC: Christabella was just such a great little villain. 136

_______________________________________ Art from Silent Hill: Dead/Alive by Nick Stakal.

She was a symbol of bloodied innocence who could just say anything she was thinking, do anything that came into her mind, and you’d go with it and feel for her anyway on some level because you knew terrible things had been done to her to make her this way. So I really wanted to revisit her and expand on her as more of a character and not just a boogeyman. Lauryn was what humanized her, so I needed them both to tell the story. KO: Among the Damned featured a tortured soldier as the lead character–was your choice of protagonist inspired by real-world events, notably the fact that there's currently a war going on? SC: That was part of it, for sure. We later received a really moving letter from a soldier who said he had been dealing with survivor’s guilt, like our protagonist, and said that I had really captured what he’d been feeling, and that the end was really cathartic for him. I think it helped that my older brother had been a soldier in another war and I saw how the experience had changed him, so I had something personal to draw on. It always helps if you can put a little bit of yourself into everything you write, I’ve found. KO: Talk a bit about Paint it Black–I always thought it was clever how you made the main character an artist searching for his muse. We both know a lot of __________________________________________________ Art from Silent Hill: Among the Damned by Shaun Thomas.

artists like that, but not many that would go to that extreme! SC: Thanks—and absolutely! And it was something I could plug into, having been an artist for a time. There’s something really remarkable and electric in that moment when you unveil a visual work and study the face of someone who’s taking it in for the first time. When you see how it works for and on that person… it’s a quick and pretty much impossible thing for the viewer to hide. As a writer, you submit a work and wait for feedback, you don’t get that immediate reaction that an artist or filmmaker gets. I miss that, honestly, and I think that’s in part where that one came from.

SC: Again, thank you for that! Yes, I love taking something tried and true and turning it on its head. In this case, I wanted to try a western. All the elements were there: the grizzled lawman who just wants to end his tour quietly, the deserted town, the headstrong innocents who foolishly go where they shouldn’t and have to be rescued, a bad guy with complex motives and morals (same with the lawman)… that’s why I had it end with a classic gunfight in the streets but let the reader decide the battle’s outcome. KO: What was the best part of working on the PSP release The Silent Hill Experience?

SC: Creating new monsters. And that was a matter of character, of KO: Now with The Grinning Man, saying, here’s this guy in an office you took a classic set-up–veteran who walks around like a slug on his final day of service looking ___________________ with no energy and this real forward to retirement–and gave it IDW provied art for the Eeyore attitude and just turning the warped Silent Hill treatment. Is Digital Graphic Novel on The this something you enjoy doing– Silent Hill Experience PSP UMD Video Disc. him into a slug-like creature with a similar personality… I could eat taking a stock situation and then you, but… too far, dude! It was all a blast. Congrats warping it and morphing it beyond all recognition? to IDW on 10 years of publishing excellence! It worked… ____________________________________________ Art from Silent Hill: Paint it Black by Shaun Thomas.

____________________________________________ Art from Silent Hill: The Grinning Man by Nick Stakal.

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Little flashes of memory came back after that, but not much, though it clearly informs on the work. So that’s always with me, and it’s clearly why I started escaping at an early age into worlds of my imagination and seeking out more and more fantastic and even extreme places to visit. Also, I originally wanted to be a comic-book artist… as a kid I primarily started writing so that I would have sample scripts to illustrate. So I’ve always thought visually, and I’ve always been drawn to fantastic, visually special worlds where you’re seeing truly original visions, and developed a love for creating my own. To an extent then, it’s from personal experience that I started, in fiction, externalizing internal trauma so that it could be dealt with. And that’s very cathartic. I find the question raised on HBO’s In Treatment to be really fascinating… is it better to live an examined or unexamined life? In Silent Hill, you often have characters who don’t examine their lives being forced to do so, and that’s very dramatic. KO: The horrific child-monster Christabella and her sister Lauryn, introduced in Dead/Alive, feature in a number of your Silent Hill stories… what made you return to those characters when writing Silent Hill? SC: Christabella was just such a great little villain. 136

_______________________________________ Art from Silent Hill: Dead/Alive by Nick Stakal.

She was a symbol of bloodied innocence who could just say anything she was thinking, do anything that came into her mind, and you’d go with it and feel for her anyway on some level because you knew terrible things had been done to her to make her this way. So I really wanted to revisit her and expand on her as more of a character and not just a boogeyman. Lauryn was what humanized her, so I needed them both to tell the story. KO: Among the Damned featured a tortured soldier as the lead character–was your choice of protagonist inspired by real-world events, notably the fact that there's currently a war going on? SC: That was part of it, for sure. We later received a really moving letter from a soldier who said he had been dealing with survivor’s guilt, like our protagonist, and said that I had really captured what he’d been feeling, and that the end was really cathartic for him. I think it helped that my older brother had been a soldier in another war and I saw how the experience had changed him, so I had something personal to draw on. It always helps if you can put a little bit of yourself into everything you write, I’ve found. KO: Talk a bit about Paint it Black–I always thought it was clever how you made the main character an artist searching for his muse. We both know a lot of __________________________________________________ Art from Silent Hill: Among the Damned by Shaun Thomas.

artists like that, but not many that would go to that extreme! SC: Thanks—and absolutely! And it was something I could plug into, having been an artist for a time. There’s something really remarkable and electric in that moment when you unveil a visual work and study the face of someone who’s taking it in for the first time. When you see how it works for and on that person… it’s a quick and pretty much impossible thing for the viewer to hide. As a writer, you submit a work and wait for feedback, you don’t get that immediate reaction that an artist or filmmaker gets. I miss that, honestly, and I think that’s in part where that one came from.

SC: Again, thank you for that! Yes, I love taking something tried and true and turning it on its head. In this case, I wanted to try a western. All the elements were there: the grizzled lawman who just wants to end his tour quietly, the deserted town, the headstrong innocents who foolishly go where they shouldn’t and have to be rescued, a bad guy with complex motives and morals (same with the lawman)… that’s why I had it end with a classic gunfight in the streets but let the reader decide the battle’s outcome. KO: What was the best part of working on the PSP release The Silent Hill Experience?

SC: Creating new monsters. And that was a matter of character, of KO: Now with The Grinning Man, saying, here’s this guy in an office you took a classic set-up–veteran who walks around like a slug on his final day of service looking ___________________ with no energy and this real forward to retirement–and gave it IDW provied art for the Eeyore attitude and just turning the warped Silent Hill treatment. Is Digital Graphic Novel on The this something you enjoy doing– Silent Hill Experience PSP UMD Video Disc. him into a slug-like creature with a similar personality… I could eat taking a stock situation and then you, but… too far, dude! It was all a blast. Congrats warping it and morphing it beyond all recognition? to IDW on 10 years of publishing excellence! It worked… ____________________________________________ Art from Silent Hill: Paint it Black by Shaun Thomas.

____________________________________________ Art from Silent Hill: The Grinning Man by Nick Stakal.

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Castlevania Respected veteran comics scribe Marc Andreyko wrote the scripts for the 5-issue miniseries Castlevania: The Belmont Legacy, adding his own distinctive chapter to the long-running and century-spanning vampire narrative. • • • • KO: How familiar were you with the games before you started? Are you currently a video game player? MA: I had a passing familiarity with the property, but I never played the game. I just really responded to the mythology the game had created. And, nope, I’m not a video game player, I’m sad to admit. I already have more than enough ways to avoid work, thank you very much!

138

KO: One thing I remember about your scripts is that they were extremely economical–you described what needed to be shown and said very effectively, but with very little words. Is this your usual style of writing? Have you always written like this or have you “pared down” the unnecessary stuff over the years?

centuries. Why did you finally choose to place it where you did, in the late 1500s?

MA: It comes from screenwriting. When doing a script, you don’t want to direct it in the text. You want to set the scene, yet allow for the director to bring a vision to the piece. Same with comics for me. I guess I consider myself the director and the artist is the cinematographer.

KO: I recall Konami made several changes to the story at the draft stage, some clarifications of the Belmont family status, and the insertion of items prominent in the game. Did these changes cause you any difficulty?

And there is still the occasional scene where I go all Alan Moore and describe every little detail. But that’s pretty rare, and only when I feel it’s absolutely necessary. KO: I know we had to pick out a time frame for the story since the Castlevania saga stretches over so many

________________________________________________________________ This Page and Next: Art from Castlevania: The Belmont Legacy by E. J. Su.

MA: Mostly because there wasn’t a lot done with that time frame in the context of the games. There was enough on either side of this time in the mythos, that spinning the connective tissue came pretty easy.

MA: Not really. When you’re working on a licensed property, you have to make allowances for those sorts of things. And, from my end, Konami was pretty painless to deal with. You might have another opinion though, huh? KO: No, actually Konami’s always been great about letting us at IDW give our creative input as well– staying within the constraints of the overall story, of course. The trick was to really delve deep into it at the outset, getting to know every nook and cranny

of the world and what Konami valued most about the property. With that accomplished and everyone on the same wavelength, many future problems were avoided. Your hero in this series was Christopher Belmont, a poor guy who gets his new bride snatched by Dracula. How did you come up with that concept? MA: Two words: Hammer Films. I’ve always loved the bodice-ripping, gothic, grand-guignol quality all those ‘60s Hammer Studios movies had. With those films as an inspiration, along with all the detailed history of the Castlevania franchise, it was just a lot of fun to do. Not much nutritional value, perhaps, but deep-fried and tasty! KO: The artist on the series was E.J. Su. Did you like what he did with your scripts? MA: Definitely. E.J. is a great storyteller and he’s fast! Those are two great tastes that taste great together. And, since I brought him to IDW, now that he’s getting so much work [E.J. is a regular Transformers artist for IDW] maybe he can hire me! IDW 139


10yearbook-FULL.qxd:Layout 1

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9:28 AM

Page 138

Castlevania Respected veteran comics scribe Marc Andreyko wrote the scripts for the 5-issue miniseries Castlevania: The Belmont Legacy, adding his own distinctive chapter to the long-running and century-spanning vampire narrative. • • • • KO: How familiar were you with the games before you started? Are you currently a video game player? MA: I had a passing familiarity with the property, but I never played the game. I just really responded to the mythology the game had created. And, nope, I’m not a video game player, I’m sad to admit. I already have more than enough ways to avoid work, thank you very much!

138

KO: One thing I remember about your scripts is that they were extremely economical–you described what needed to be shown and said very effectively, but with very little words. Is this your usual style of writing? Have you always written like this or have you “pared down” the unnecessary stuff over the years?

centuries. Why did you finally choose to place it where you did, in the late 1500s?

MA: It comes from screenwriting. When doing a script, you don’t want to direct it in the text. You want to set the scene, yet allow for the director to bring a vision to the piece. Same with comics for me. I guess I consider myself the director and the artist is the cinematographer.

KO: I recall Konami made several changes to the story at the draft stage, some clarifications of the Belmont family status, and the insertion of items prominent in the game. Did these changes cause you any difficulty?

And there is still the occasional scene where I go all Alan Moore and describe every little detail. But that’s pretty rare, and only when I feel it’s absolutely necessary. KO: I know we had to pick out a time frame for the story since the Castlevania saga stretches over so many

________________________________________________________________ This Page and Next: Art from Castlevania: The Belmont Legacy by E. J. Su.

MA: Mostly because there wasn’t a lot done with that time frame in the context of the games. There was enough on either side of this time in the mythos, that spinning the connective tissue came pretty easy.

MA: Not really. When you’re working on a licensed property, you have to make allowances for those sorts of things. And, from my end, Konami was pretty painless to deal with. You might have another opinion though, huh? KO: No, actually Konami’s always been great about letting us at IDW give our creative input as well– staying within the constraints of the overall story, of course. The trick was to really delve deep into it at the outset, getting to know every nook and cranny

of the world and what Konami valued most about the property. With that accomplished and everyone on the same wavelength, many future problems were avoided. Your hero in this series was Christopher Belmont, a poor guy who gets his new bride snatched by Dracula. How did you come up with that concept? MA: Two words: Hammer Films. I’ve always loved the bodice-ripping, gothic, grand-guignol quality all those ‘60s Hammer Studios movies had. With those films as an inspiration, along with all the detailed history of the Castlevania franchise, it was just a lot of fun to do. Not much nutritional value, perhaps, but deep-fried and tasty! KO: The artist on the series was E.J. Su. Did you like what he did with your scripts? MA: Definitely. E.J. is a great storyteller and he’s fast! Those are two great tastes that taste great together. And, since I brought him to IDW, now that he’s getting so much work [E.J. is a regular Transformers artist for IDW] maybe he can hire me! IDW 139

Idwx chap 09  

http://idwpublishing.com/stateoftheart/idwx_chap_09.pdf

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