SDCC ’14 Art of Videogames Panel

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Dark Horse leads the way in transporting videogames into the comic world.

By: Nick Eskey

Art has gone hand in hand with videogames almost since the beginning. Oh yes, the earliest games were either text-based adventures, or pixilated jumbles; Not really “artistic.” But the boxes they were packaged in were usually masterpieces of fantasies. It wasn’t that developers didn’t feel games were worthy of art as part of their game play, but the technology wasn’t there. Now, with high density pixel displays and fast processors, we find ourselves capable of things never thought possible with gaming. We’ve seen some of the best games ever released in the last few years. Typically they involve large, detailed worlds and characters that people can’t help but explore.

Various artists and designers that were part of huge titles like Tomb Raider, Halo, Mass Effect, Witcher, Plants Vs. Zombies, and The Last of Us were present at San Diego Comic Con to discuss the art of the games. “We are seeing fans want to explore more of the world, more of the characters that they were introduced to.” This has led to a good number of games getting their own comic book adaption. Not necessarily retelling the game itself, but “following storylines or characters that no one had thought of before.” Both The Last of Us and Tomb Raider have comics that are set to come out sometime within the year, both being published by Dark Horse. With Tomb Raider, we are promised to follow Lara Croft after the videogame finding out more of what she is.

The Witcher will also be seeing a comic, again by Dark Horse, entitled “House of Glass.” “The series will be a standalone story. It will add to the Witcher universe, and will introduce new characters and show monsters from the Witcher 3 game.” Other games like Halo and Mass Effect will be seeing comics too. Halo: The Next 72 Hours will take place after the 4th game, following the events that happen with Master chief. For Mass Effect, it will follow the main antagonist from the last DLC from Mass Effect 3. “It’s going to be a last adventure to go on with the characters of the original Mass Effect.”

Aside from comics, there’s other mediums like art books that show the full breadth of artistry that goes into game development. “Most often we only see three quarters of the artwork that goes into a game being used. There’s also the evolution of characters… That’s why art books are so great. They give a sneak peek into what didn’t make it in… what changed.”

With comics though, publishers and artists are very concerned with not letting the fans down. Because of this, even though they are different mediums, publishers try to make sure that the artists from the games are the ones that will also be the writers for the comics. This allows the stories and characters to be as connected as possible. “Sometimes it doesn’t work [though], especially when telling a side story. It then becomes a sand box experience. Here it becomes important to work with and trust a creative team.”

Videogames have become a platform for new forms of art, and they have taken a while to get to this point. Now that fans are eager to immerse themselves more in the worlds they introduce, their presence in comics and graphic novels will grow more and more, fleshing out worlds that perhaps even their writers didn’t know would come to be.

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