So yeah, this happened. ;) If you didn’t already know, on Friday at New York Comic Con Dark Horse announced a new project, a 4-issue prequel comic to Naughty Dog’s upcoming PS3 game The Last of Us, drawn and co-written (with Last of Us creator Neil Druckmann) by MEEEEEEEEE. Yes, I am SLIGHTLY EXCITED about it.
If you don’t know anything about The Last of Us, check out this trailer. The Last of Us is Naughty Dog’s follow up to the Uncharted series, a post-apocalyptic game following the journey of two survivors, Joel and Ellie, as they try and make their way through a United States decimated by a mysterious plague. It’s awesome looking stuff.
I saw that trailer a few months ago at E3, and was kind of enthralled by it. I was familiar with Last of Us before E3, having seen a teaser earlier in the year, and I remember watching it and thinking “I would like to make a comic like this.” I really liked the combination of tough older guy and tough young girl, forced to work together for some mysterious reason, and struggling through this eerily beautiful wasteland. I’m not kidding: I literally thought “I want to make a comic like this,” while watching that trailer. (For my next trick, I would like a million dollars!)
Flash forward a few months, and I got an email from my Superhero Girl editor at Dark Horse, Rachel Edidin: “Do you play video games?” Just a one line email. I wrote back and said yes, I did. Not as much as I used to, because sadly, once comics become your life’s work, it’s hard to make something as time consuming as video-games a priority, but I very much enjoyed the few games I played, and liked the art form as a whole. Why was she asking?
(Sidebar: I was huuuugely into games as a teenager. I played DOOM and Quake and everything LucasArts and Sierra [before their … destruction by Activision] published, and for a while very much wanted to work in the gaming industry in some kind of creative capacity … but I ended up in comics instead!)
Rachel told me that Dark Horse was looking into publishing a Last of Us comic prequel, and my name was on the list of possible artists for the gig. Was I interested? I think I sent a reply with about 50 exclamation points, babbling “YES YES YES PLEASE!!!!” I then spent a very sweaty, nervous day sketching out drawings of Ellie and the Last of Us world for her to show to Naughty Dog, as an example of how I would draw the comic, if I was given the job. (I’ll post those sketches in a later post.)
I thought long and hard about how I wanted to draw the Last of Us world, and the conclusion I came to is that I would draw how I normally drew, just with a slightly harder edge, and pump up the background details. I don’t believe in replicating the look of a game down to the letter in a comic. It doesn’t work. Comics are a completely different artistic medium than games, and I think if you make something that is literally trying to replicate the look of the game, you end up with something that’s not a game, and not a good comic either. It was both a relief and a delight to hear that Neil and the Naughty Dog team agreed with me, and much to my excitement, I was told I got the job.
The next month or so was a flurry of planning out the storyline and character interactions. Comics are lonely work sometimes, and it was great fun to go back and forth with Neil and Rachel, collaborating on the comic’s story arc. The Last of Us comic is about Ellie, the young girl from the game, and her life before the events of the game. It’s about her relationship with another teenage girl she meets at a military school the both of them are “attending” (forcibly attending, that is). It’s about these two girls dealing with the post-apocalyptic world they’re born into, and challenging that world as they look for a way off the path that’s planned out for them. It’s kind of awesome. ;)
There’s some more info about the comic on CBR here, which has a nice write-up of the panel. I was SPECTACULARLY embarrassed I had to walk up to the actual panel table in front of a packed panel audience, but oh well. It was very dramatic. ;)
I think this is going to be a really cool comic. One thing I really like about it is that you do not have to play the game in order to enjoy the comic (nor do you have to read the comic to play the game). The comic is planned out as a contained story arc, with a proper beginning/middle/end (my favourite!), and I think those of you who have enjoyed my previous comics, like Friends With Boys or Zombies Calling, will like The Last of Us, even if you don’t play video games.
SO YAY! Please spread the word of the comic far and wide!
Whew, this was a long ramble. I’ll be posting the concept art from the comic at some point, so you can see my sketches of Ellie and Riley, the other main character.
EDIT: Oh, I’m so sorry! I completely forgot to mention our colourist on this comic! Christina Strain will be doing the colours, as she did on this lovely poster! I met her at NYCC, and she is awesomesauce. :D