Welcome to our first edition of Pagemaster’s Mind Meld!
(George Mann, Alan Quah: Dark Souls)
“My mind to [their] mind(s); My thoughts to [their] thoughts“
Pagemaster: First, I would like to thank you both for taking time out of your busy schedules to talk with me about Dark Souls. I should probably admit that I haven’t played the games (it’s on my to-do list!), but after reading your first issue for myself I’m very excited to continue following your work! It’s very exciting to be able to do this for our readers at ComicPlug.com and I can’t thank you enough.
To start: How much experience, if any, did you have with the Dark Souls world before coming onto this project?
Alan: Not much to be honest apart from hearing how excruciatingly difficult it was to play the game from my son and friends. Getting to know Dark Souls after being assigned to the project is from many days of exploring the gameplay studying the environments, the fight scenes, main character designs, the bosses and sub-bosses etc..
George: I’m a gamer by nature and I love immersive games like Dark Souls, so when Titan approached me about writing the series I already knew the games and the setting pretty well. I’ve played both of the first two games, and I’m looking forward to getting stuck into the third! I must admit, though…I die a LOT. They’re certainly some of the hardest games I’ve ever played.
Pagemaster: George, would you say readers need to have foreknowledge of the games before picking up Dark Souls #1 or would this issue be a good introduction to the universe?
George: Hopefully the comic serves as an introduction to the setting and mythology of the Dark Souls universe. I was certainly conscious that I didn’t want this to be a book just for existing gamers, while at the same time I wanted to make sure there was plenty that was recognizable for them, too. It’s a tough balancing act, but hopefully we’ve pulled it off. I think one of the key things is that, with Dark Souls, you’re not supposed to know what’s going on from page one. Part of the fun of engaging with this universe is delving deeper and figuring out the story. We wanted to capture that in the comics, too.
Pagemaster: Do you plan on exploring and deepening existing lore or are you trying to carve out your own corner of the Dark Souls world?
George: We’re forging our own path, but we’re aiming to do it in a way that pays tribute to what’s gone before, and captures the spirit and tone of the games. That’s not to say there won’t be references to some of the existing lore, but we wanted to do something that felt like Dark Souls, but told a new and interesting story. Partly we didn’t want to start attempting to explain what people are going to encounter in the games (that’s part of the gaming experience), but it’s also so we can take any exciting narrative paths we might want to tread. This way, no one knows what’s going to happen next, or who’s going to survive…
Pagemaster: Speaking of survive, I gotta know: can we expect epic, boss-like, fight scenes in future issues and how well do you think the emotional turmoil from “Dark Souls” boss fights can transition into comics?
Alan: Yes, there will definitely be bigger fight scenes in the following issues.
George: Oh yes! While the needs of a comic are different from the needs of a game, in that we can’t mirror the experience perfectly without compromising the story, we’re keen to hold on to those key elements, such as boss fights. So you’re going to see some epic villains, and Alan has done an amazing job bringing them to life in all their creepy majesty.
Alan: As we are talking I am placing the finishing touches to issue 2 and adding more layers to what I missed in issue 1. Can’t wait to show you next month. 🙂
George: As far as emotional turmoil goes…well, wait until you see the last page of issue #2!
Pagemaster: What can you tell us about your plans for story building in this series? Do you see one huge arc, multi-issue plotlines, or more of an episodic, single-issue contained style adventure?
George: That all remains to be seen! This first arc is four issues long. We’re telling a tight, contained story. If people like it, there’s so much more we can do in this universe.
Pagemaster: Can you give us any insight into your creative inspirations for the series?
George: Well, it all starts with the original video games for me. When I was planning the series, I was spending days on my Xbox, getting killed over and over again as I tried to soak up the atmosphere of the setting. Fantasy fiction and movies are a passion of mine, though, so there’s probably all sorts of influences in there, from movies such as Krull or Excalibur, to books such as The Weirdstone of Brisingamen to Gormenghast.
Alan: I have always been a big fan of the silver and bronze age comic era and artists like Rudy Nebres, Alex Nino, Sergio Toppi, Jorge Zaffino, Al Williamson and of course the master himself Bernie Wrightson appeals to me. These artists are very inspirational to me in my journey as an artist and they “taught” me how to use lines to define shadows and midtones. And it helps that I love sword and sorcery books from 80’s and 90’s, that might have probably snuck its way into my art subconsciously. So drawing this series is in all fairness a labour of love.
Pagemaster: Tell us Alan, how difficult is it to adapt your art style to portray a property established in another media form?
Alan: I feel very much at home drawing this book. I would like to think my forte is in drawing ugly monsters, zombies and weird looking environments. George is creating a lot of stuff I enjoy drawing and at most times I spent more hours that I should on a page because I was having a lot of fun.
Pagemaster: Bearing in mind that we are talking about a game that proudly boasts things like: “You WILL die. A lot.”, How have you approached capturing that feeling and what have you done that you feel has best helped you achieve that with your art?
Alan: My approach to the book is focused on the tone and look. Adding more shadows to the art which I enjoy a lot and creating different textures with my pencils and art directing the colors for the desired result.
Pagemaster: Alright guys, in your own words: what made you want to take on this kind of project and how limited is your creative freedom by FromSoftware and Bandai-Namco?
George: How could I not! It’s one of those gigs you just don’t turn down. A chance to tell a brand new story set in the universe of Dark Souls! You don’t think twice about something like that. In terms of creative freedom, both Bandai-Namco and Titan have been brilliant. A nudge and a steer in the right places, but essentially we’ve been allowed to plough our own track. They’ve all been very encouraging
Alan: Prior to this project I worked on dark themed projects like Evil Dead, Godzilla, The Shadow Girls and a couple of horror anthologies. Coupled with my love for Sword and Sorcery comics and old school art I feel like I was “trained” to be ready for this. In terms of creative freedom I couldn’t be happier; Bandai-Namco gave me a lot of room to express my work and proud to say the pages for issue 1 were approved without a single change.
Pagemaster: Now, What I’m sure all of our gaming fans want to know: What can you tell us about how the comic ties into the video game plots? Might we see cameos from important characters or see elements of your work in future game installments?
George: You’ll have to wait and see! But if people pick up issue #1, they’ll get a glimpse of a cameo from a fan favorite character…of sorts!
Pagemaster: To finish off, since you have our podium, is there anything you guys would like to “plug” that you feel our readers should know or be on the look out for?
Alan: Buy Dark Souls #1 now and get ready for more goodness in # 2! 🙂
You heard the man! Dark Souls is dark and detailed in all the right ways; the product of fandom and passion. To echo George in part: How can you not be down for this?!
Check out some of these killer previews of issue #1 and/or follow this link to pick up your own copy!