Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Batman, Point Blank, and Get Jiro! after Tomb of the Undead update

I updated the next page of Tomb of the Undead this evening - and I've got quite a bit of work on the next page accomplished while listening to the Maple Leafs game tonight, which is nice. I'm getting a little tuckered out, I'm afraid, so I don't know how much more I'll be getting done tonight after all. And of course, you can see the whole chapter at this link.

Batman: Life After Death – Graphic Novel Review

By Rob
Primary Ignition

TITLE: Batman: Life After Death
AUTHOR: Tony Daniel
PENCILLERS: Tony Daniel, Guillem March
COLLECTS: Batman #692-699
FORMAT: Hardcover
PRICE: $19.99
RELEASE DATE: October 2010

In a lot of ways, this book is a sequel to Batman: Battle For The Cowl.

It doesn’t come after it chronologically, but this book was written entirely by Tony Daniel, the same man who wrote Battle. It also ties up some of the plot threads Daniel started in that miniseries, allowing him to finish what he started.

Life After Death finds the mysterious new Black Mask and his gang of False Faces in a war against the returning Falcone Crime Family. With the help of Catwoman and Huntress, Dick Grayson, the new Batman, must fight to keep Gotham City standing amidst the chaos. Meanwhile, Kitrina, youngest of the Falcone children, proves a force to be reckoned with. And did I mention that The Riddler, who struck with amnesia shortly after the events of Batman: Hush, is starting to remember things…things that will come back to haunt him.
click to read more
Point Blank: The Graphic Novel PB Alex Rider Series
Reviewer: Kathie M. Josephs

Point Blank ( PB ) The Alex Rider Adventures are #1 bestsellers the world over, Point Blank and following in the footsteps of the Point Blank graphic novel adaptation of Stormbreaker comes the second book in this phenomenal series. Like Stormbreaker: The Graphic Novel, this edition features bold, edgy, manga-like illustrations that make the graphic novel form so immensely popular, and brings the young spy to life in a whole new way. For existing fans of Alex Rider, this will be a must-have; for those yet to discover the series, this will be the perfect introduction.
Children’s Literature

I am such a fan of graphic novels because they make it perfect for reluctant readers who never finish a book because reading is difficult for them. They are also a perfect way for nonreaders to read classics they may never read. A good graphic novel allows even the poorest reader to complete a book, take part in classroom discussions, and write a book report. In this case, the first 18 pages bring readers up to date in the story. Alex Rider is a super spy who is trying to fit in at school. This is hard to do because he has to try to be a typical teen while completing a mission by M16 to infiltrate the Point Blanc Academy. He needs to find out what is going on there and find a way to warn the world of the danger. This academy is where many parents send their kids when they have been expelled from other schools. That is Alex’s cover; he was expelled from ETON. He meets a boy named James Sprintz who shows him around and gives him some pointers for making life easier. The first thing he tells Alex is that the place is more like a prison than a school and that there are only six boys in the entire academy. Alex soon finds out that the students are being cloned. This plot combines mystery with the scientific issue of cloning. The author provides a lot to think about if cloning becomes a reality. I can’t say I enjoyed the message of the book because it makes me think about the dark side; however, if it made me think about it, then it must have been well-written. It was a good length. There was as much text as pictures, which was refreshing.
Anthony Bourdain to Pen Graphic Novel "Get Jiro!"
by Josh Friedland
The Food Section

It's been reported that author and "No Reservations" host Anthony Bourdain is working on a graphic novel about food, but now Eater notes that Vertigo, the publisher of the upcoming book, has just publicly confirmed that a book is in the works.

Bourdain will write the graphic novel in collaboration with novelist Joel Rose, along with illustrations by artist Langdon Foss. Vertigo provides these additional details:

GET JIRO! is a futuristic action thriller that takes America’s newfound obsession with exotic cuisine to a manic, violent extreme. It takes place in a world where food and the secrets of how to prepare it are the source of all power leading master chefs to fight over Jiro, a mysterious top-notch sushi chef with ideas of his own.

By the way, contrary to those earlier reports, the title is not Get Gyro! so if you were expecting lamb, tahini, and pita to figure into the plot, you might be sorely disappointed.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Lashing out at Disney leads to "The Exile" AND Fallout All Roads interview

I wrapped up my obligations with Nanowrimo, which is awesome, so I'm free to continue work on Tomb of the Undead. I've just finished page 14, which you can review here, and follow along with the story, here.

And here is a draft of Barnum Mantell before I could draw this page:

Newsarama: What was the impetus behind creating Fallout: All Roads?

By Seth Robison,
Newsarama Contributor

The Fallout franchise returns to its Southwestern roots today in the new action RPG Fallout: New Vegas for PC, PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. Before venturing back out into the Wasteland, those who purchase the collector’s edition of the game receive a copy of Fallout: All Roads, a prequel graphic novel detailing the events and the state of the world immediately preceding the start of the game. Newsarama recently sat down with the comic’s writer, Chris Avellone, Creative Director for Obsidian Entertainment and the Senior Designer on New Vegas to talk about the game, the comic and why life in New Vegas requires a little more than just luck.

Newsarama: What was the impetus behind creating Fallout: All Roads?

Chris Avellone: A deep-rooted desire to unite my love of game design with my childhood dream of writing comics. I had my first shot when Obsidian worked on Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II. I wrote several stories set in the Star Wars universe, including Star Wars Tales and Clone Wars Adventures, including an Aurra Sing story I'm really proud of, among others.

By this time, I had developed a good relationship with Dark Horse, so when Obsidian had a chance to return to the Fallout franchise with Fallout: New Vegas, I figured I'd take another run at it and asked Bethesda if they'd want to do a Fallout comic. Our marketing manager, Regi Jacob, shook hands with the Dark Horse folks, then both took the idea and ran farther with it than I expected. Less than a year later, it's a graphic novel with some of the most respected artists in the industry, and I'm grateful.

Nrama: Where does All Roads fit within the Fallout canon?

Avellone: It takes place a week before the opening movie of the game [Fallout: New Vegas]. The idea is that you can read the graphic novel then play a new game. The transition is seamless. You get to see the path of your adversaries and the road they took to track you down at the start of the game. It also forecasts future events you'll see played out as your character adventures in the Mojave surrounding New Vegas.

Nrama: How critical would you say this story is to the understanding of the events of Fallout: New Vegas?

Avellone: The story in All Roads isn't critical to the New Vegas experience. We just wanted to tell more of the story surrounding the events in-game, not focus on the critical path which would be unfair to anyone who didn't have the Collector's Edition. It gives more context and backstory to a number of the characters and some of the factions you meet. It’s for people interested in digging deeper into the game world.

One challenge of working on a computer game is that you may have to create a good deal of lore and backstory on the characters and factions, but it’s rare to be able to show all of it in-game. What's great about graphic novels and novels is they allow the game creators an opportunity to get that backstory out to players interested in learning more about the history and events surrounding the characters.

Lashing out at Disney started her career
Writer returns to her comic book roots

by Ashley B. Craig
Daily Mail staff

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Fans of Diana Gabaldon can soon find out just how the author of the Outlander series and the new graphic novel "The Exile" evolved from scientist to novelist and author of comic books.

Writing in comic-book form is nothing new to Gabaldon, who wrote in the late 1970s for Disney Comics.

"I was in my 20s and I was reading one - I can't remember which one - and I thought to myself 'This is pretty bad,' and I thought I could do better," she recalled during a telephone interview from her Arizona home.

The young writer penned a not-so-nice letter to the comic's editor who, instead of lashing back at her, sent her a few comic scripts to learn from and constructively edited her work when she sent it back to him. She ended up writing comic scripts for Disney Comics for three years before the company reverted to using scripts from the archives.

Gabaldon, 58, got back into the genre two years ago with graphic novels and comic books safely in the mainstream. She thought it would be fun to try it again.

Read more ...
Thanks for stopping by - it's always appreciated.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Stan Lee, agents and Set to Sea

The latest post has taken a long time to get ready, which is too bad. I have been playing a lot of catch-up with the Nanowrimo competition this month and that's significantly affected my time spent on Tomb of the Undead. However, the good news is that I'm only about 4,000 words away from finishing Nanowriomo, getting the little .gif that says "Winner" and then being done with it and getting back to drawing comic pages.

Anyhow - here's the latest update, page 13.

A lot more backgrounds coming up as the characters continue to move through the museum - I didn't really take much advantage of actually having much of this story happening in a museum. There really could have been some awesome sights - but really, there's only going to be one cool museum location that's awesome.

List of agents who take graphic novels
If you're interested in pitching your graphic novel, some user named elae (a.k.a. Niki Smith) over at absolutewrite.com has compiled what I imagine is a lengthy list for your reference.

Graphic Novel Review: Set to Sea
Steve Duin
The Oregonian

In the postscript to his debut graphic novel, Drew Weing extends gratitude "to all of the friends who gave me advice and support in the two cities and five years it took me to get this book together."

I have no idea how many months Weing was handcuffed to his drawing board before he found the rhythm in this book. But find it he did, producing a series of 134 panels that -- finally collected here by Fantagraphics -- betray an admirable gift for storytelling.

Had I been following along when Weing was posting individual panels on his website, I don't know that I would have similarly swept away by the story he tells in Set to Sea. A lazy lug of a poet is trying to write a book about the sea-faring life. As he is wedged at the end of a dock, it's not surprising that he eventually concludes, "Something's still missing." He promptly falls asleep, waking only to find that he has been shanghaied and is now serving at the pleasure of Captain Conrad Porter aboard a clipper ship that won't see land for months.

In a panel that Weing draws from the crow's nest, the lug turns that last good eye to the stars, the stars that abandoned him long ago. Over the next 21 pages, not a word is spoken. The poet has found all that he will ever find of his purpose in life, Weing has found his rhythm, and years -- 10? 15? 30? -- pass in a sequence of images that have my hands shaking. There are icebergs, a whale, a sexton, a card game, a storm, and a lonely sailor curled beneath a palm tree with his journal. We are witness to a man's life unfolding, unraveling, before us in a series of postcards that leave nothing -- or is it everything? -- to the imagination. I don't know Drew Weing, or whether he's lucky or good, but in Set to Sea, he has reminded me once again just how much story you can share in a brief flurry of comic panels, so long as you know how to trim the sails and catch the wind.
Stan Lee working on sci-fi Romeo and Juliet graphic novel

The busiest man in comics keeps getting busier, as Stan Lee’s POW! Entertainment and 1821 Pictures are teaming up for three new graphic novels.

Per Deadline Hollywood, Lee and Terry Douglas will write the first one, Romeo and Juliet: The War, which sets William Shakespeare’s famous lovers in a futuristic setting. Skan Srisuwan will provide the art, and the book is due out in the spring.

Here’s the description of the project provided by Deadline: “Two groups of superhuman soldiers turn the Empire of Verona into the most powerful territory on earth. The Montagues (powerful cyborgs made of artificial DNA) team with the Capulets (genetically enhanced humans with super speed and agility) to destroy all threats to Verona. When they succeed, they turn on one another in a race for total dominance. In this volatile backdrop, a young Monague boy and Capulet girl fall in love and plan to marry in secret.”

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

New page for Tomb of the Undead

Page 12 - The Relics of Lazarus

here's the new page for Tomb of the Undead. Finally introducing Barnum Mantell, aka Barney. He's fashioned after a very famous actor, if you can guess who it is, leave me a comment. I'll confirm or deny whatever your guess is.

I think the backgrounds (which I loathe drawing for their complexity and detail) really make these next few scenes better than the scenes from back in the desert, or even stage set that I had (and certainly better than the hallway setting from the last page).

Meh, I'm liking the background settings, I guess is what I'm saying. I hope you think they're alright, too.

Artemis Fowl
Artemis Fowl appears to be a new Disney product out there. I didn't know that they did graphic novels over there, but ... of course they do!

Check it out.

Since the release of Artemis Fowl in 2001, Eoin Colfer’s blockbuster series has sold more than eight million copies in the United States alone. Now, in this second graphic novel installment of the series, fans can follow along as the world’s youngest criminal mastermind rushes to save a man who has been kidnapped by the Russian Mafiya: his own father.

Eoin Colfer has once again teamed up with acclaimed comic writer Andrew Donkin to adapt the text for this action-packed, brilliantly illust... [there's not much else written, so tough luck for us.]
The Alchemist
I have not read The Alchemist - however, I realize how transformational it was to whoever read it. Everyone who read it says that it's (in the voice of Ron Burgundy) "really great."

Every few decades a book is published that changes the lives of its readers forever. This is such a book — a magical fable about learning to listen to your heart, read the omens strewn along life’s path and, above all, follow your dreams. Released on CD for the first time to celebrate the 10th anniversary of this modern classic.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Page 11, the wind up and the pitch

Ha, finally got to the next page of Tomb of the Undead. Hope you like it.

Next scene is called.... "The Relics of Lazarus." Look forward to it!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

new character

Character design - but not like a character back-story or anything like that - I literally have to figure out what I want a character to look like. I've finally got to the point in the story where I've got to draw him, so ... I've got to figure this out.

I've got a cool idea - and it'll be interesting to see if you can identify whom I based the design off of. Here's a hint - all of the characters are modeled off of some celebrity that has plenty of pictures of them on the Internet for me to use as guidance while drawing.

That being said - this actor is quite old and accomplished - so there are lots of pictures of him, but fewer as a young man. That's fine, too. I'm looking forward to it.

Next - the woman of the story. I know who I want to base her off of, but maybe I want to change my mind. Women are ... for some reason, hard to draw the facial features of - or else they wind up looking like witches. It's weird. Or, it's just weird to me, I guess.

William S. Boroughs graphic novel
I'm not exactly sure how'd your present Naked Lunch as a graphic novel (it's an opium induced heroine trip scrawled out as crib notes over a period of years. Honestly, how much more sensible can it be after that?

No, this is not a surreal, drug-induced alternate reality.

No, seriously, back in the late 60′s, before the term “graphic novel” had even been coined, William S. Burroughs worked with artist Malcolm McNeill to make the experimental Ah, Pook Is Here. It was a multi-year collaboration that flashed briefly on the literary scene of the time, then disappeared. However, Fantagraphics has plans to resurrect this lost treasure as a two volume set.

I’m not familiar with the artist, though there are some samples at that link above, and the book itself seems to be yet another of Burroughs’ experiments. In fact, the article describes it as an extension of the “cut-up method” that Burroughs is famous for and liked so well. Personally, I think it’s just interesting as a piece of history. Alan Moore may have all the pretensions he cares to about his graphic novel work, but he can’t possibly hold a candle to this genius.

Anyway, it’s Friday, so take a mental health break and go read about this crazy experiment that was well before its time.

And here is something that I must have intuited very thinly back in October when I started drawing Tomb of the Undead, but it appears that October is National Graphic Novel Writing Month. I had no idea:

On National Graphic Novel Writing Month

I’ll bet you didn’t know that October is National Graphic Novel Writing Month. :cool:

Glenn Hauman of ComicMix describes NaGraNoWriMo thusly:

The goal is simple: By October 31st, you write a script for at least a 48 page long graphic novel.

Despite my employment by the comics industry, I’ve never really wanted to write for the medium. Okay, okay, twenty years ago I’d have thought writing for comics would have been awesome, but I was also sixteen years-old and my juvenile impulses shouldn’t be held up as any sort of present-day standard.

Would I want to participate in NaGraNoWriMo? Do I want to write a script for a forty-eight page comic book in the month of October?

I thought about this on Friday, and recognizing that this would most likely produce an interesting (but ultimately unusable) spec script, I thought that perhaps this was the opportunity to write the Doctor Who/Uncle Scrooge crossover I’ve long dreamt of. For several reasons, none of which I’m willing to share at the moment, I decided this was an untenable choice.

On the subway ride home Friday, I brainstormed other ideas.

After dismissing Batman/Thor as an unrealistic waste of time (seriously, even though it’s a spec script, there’s no point in writing something utterly pointless) and a zombie baseball story (because it’s a joke of an idea, one that would be better suited for an 8-page Tales from the Crypt tale, not a 48-page graphic novel), I settled on two ideas that had promise.

One would be a modern day, lit-esque graphic novel. The other would be an historical piece.

After more musing, I decided the second would be best. It’s something different and unique and, to be honest, putting the work in on developing the graphic novel script would give me the foundation for a short story or a novel.

In truth, I had some of the background work on this done. In the spring I’d started a file of notes for an historical story, but I didn’t actually have a story. A setting, a concept, some characters, and how they related.

Now I’m hanging this sketchy work on something. I spent the afternoon hammering out a two-page outline.

I have some issues of TwoMorrows’ Write Now (the magazine about writing comics) to look at for ideas on formatting a comic book script. Screenplay I can do. Not well, but I can do it. Comics? That’s terra incognita. :h2g2:

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Page 10, the wind up and the pitch

Tomb of the Undead
here's an update on the 10th page of the Tomb of the Undead story. One more page in this scene before we get into the next.

Writing a graphic novel has been done by many enthusiasts - including this guy. He dug an old copy of a short story he wrote, and decided to make an illustrated novella out of it. Check it out.

Eric Drooker: Graphic novel of Ginsberg's 'Howl'
Ari Messer
This article appeared on page G - 17 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Eric Drooker came to create the artwork for his new graphic-novel version of "Howl" - based on his animation design for the new movie, which also shares its title with Allen Ginsberg's classic long poem - through a number of paths at once.

Ginsberg and Drooker met in the contentious Lower Manhattan of the 1980s. Drooker showed Ginsberg his protest art, but there was no need: "He'd already been collecting my posters," Drooker said in his Berkeley studio.

Drooker felt honored by the new friendship, and Ginsberg would later write in their 1996 collaboration "Illuminated Poems" that he was "flattered that so radical an artist of later generations found the body of my poetry still relevant, even inspiring. Our paths crossed often, we took part in various political rallies and poetical-musical entertainments."

"Illuminated Poems" does contain "Howl," but Drooker says he was excited when directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman asked him to provide artwork for the long series of animation in the film (now playing in the Bay Area).

"Ginsberg and I were on a similar wavelength when we were both trying to describe what he called the 'Megalopolis,' an endless corporate cityscape and factory-scape," Drooker said. "Right away, he had suggested that I try illustrating something from the 'Moloch' section of 'Howl.' He recognized that my style, my vision of the metropolis, would lend itself particularly strongly to that section."

The smooth, three-dimensional quality of the artwork might surprise fans of Drooker's previous, etching-like graphic novels, "Flood!" and "Blood Song." The art in the new graphic novel has traveled from Drooker's pen, through the animation studio and back onto the page.

"Animation is a very slow, meticulous process," he says. "I fed the animators concept art, characters and storyboards, and then the studio made everything move using the same type of software that Pixar uses."

When Nick Hornby called Drooker's work "mythopoeic," he wasn't kidding. "I decided to stretch out a nine-page poem over 200 pages," Drooker said. "Each stanza of the poem has its own page, its own spread. I tried to make it more like a religious text, more liturgical.

"I made Moloch, the God of War, look more or less like a Greek minotaur," he says. "It has the head of a bull and the body of Schwarzenegger. It's a terrifying character. We send our firstborn to war, in ancient times as well as in modern times."

Tonight's event will be a chance to get Drooker's signature on your own copy of the graphic novel, as well as a chance to observe the process behind the artwork.

"I'm going to show slides illuminating the whole process of animating the poem and working on the movie and storyboards," he said.
Hope you're having a great time following along with the story.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Page 9, The Wind up and the pitch

Coming along - here's the next installment of Tomb of the Undead:

It would appear that Dr. Bolam does not trust Dr. Miller. I think I'm going to try and avoid drawing audiences in too many pictures anymore. A little awkward and complicated for a scene that really doesn't add much to the conversation.

That being said, when I watch cartoons like the Simpsons and things like that I'm paying a lot more attention to the backgrounds and establishing shots. Last night Homer and Lenny were in France and there were some incredible artwork used as establishing shots that only appeared on the screen for a second, which is both incredible and disheartening. A lot of artwork goes to into making those shots - and people aren't even watching, they're looking at their laptops instead.

Graphic Novel news

Publish Your Own Graphic Novel_5243
By admin on September 20, 2010.
Publishing your own graphic novel may be hard work, but some parts are probably easier than you think. Here are a few tips to get you started.

Whatever your motivations are for wanting to write and publish your own graphic novel, you should have a firm and exhaustive grasp of the genre before you begin. Spend as much time as you possibly can studying the work of those who are successful (both critically and commercially), and make copious notes as to what it is about their work that appeals and endures. What scenes did they choose to illustrate and how did it convey what the artist meant to convey? What is their style and what is it based on? Delving deep into what the artist was trying to achieve and how he or she succeed or failed are the are the kinds of things that will help you get a sense of your own craft.

Your Story
This is the fun part, of course, but also the most work. Things to keep in mind in this stage are to work, work, and work to get your characters fleshed out and nailed down. You should write down complete character sketches (these won’t appear in your book, naturally) so you have a deep and enduring concept about who your characters are, and what each character’s motivation is in any given scene. This helps create consistency and help you and your audience build a bond with your characters.

Team Up If Necessary
If you are a skilled storyteller but your drawing skills leave a little bit to be desired (or you just can’t seem to achieve what it is that you have in your head), consider finding someone or a group of people to team up with. Make sure that these are dependable and creative people who can help you with your vision, and that have some great ideas of their own.

Seek Out Criticism
Before you start publishing large numbers of books yourself, seek out opinions on your work. If you have friends in the business that is the best place to start. However, you will want to try your work out on a few members of your intended audience as well. When they are through with your book, be prepared to ask them what they liked and what they didn’t and why. Make it clear to them that you are not looking for compliments, but that you want to hear the bad along with the good. If you start to hear the same tings over and over, you will have a pretty good idea what is working and what is not.

Print and Bind
Once you’ve got your book dialed in you are ready to put it together and pass it around. The printing should be done on a high-quality laser machine, and the cover should use a four color process. As far as the binding, there are several ways you might want to go depending on the length of your book, and what it is you are trying to accomplish. For an old-school comic book look you can use a simple booklet maker that places two staples in the center of the book (called saddle stitching). If you are going for a hardcover or softcover book, thermal binding machines are inexpensive, easy to use and create an impressive finished product. Take a look around online or visit your local printer to see what your options might be.
A Novel Renerd Graphic Novel
Posted by Bishop

I have always had a love of comic books. It started as a passion for the saturday morning pullouts and soon developed into a want to purchase a magazine I could hold in my tiny, pasty scratchers. Xmen 122 won me over and my lifelong affair really kicked in to gear. I have followed many titles over the course of my collecting (which was put on hiatus in my mid-20s, and buried alive in my early 30s).

One of the odder choices of enjoyment was the “What If…” Series from Marvel. There was also the “What The ?!?” series but that was an entirely different (and much funnier) experience. For those who aren’t in the know, “What If…” took plot points from the Marvel Universe and turned them on their ear. It asked questions like “What If Wolverine killed The Hulk?” or “What If Elektra had lived?”. For the most part they should have just named the series “What If Everyone Died Because …” As that is how I remember most of those stories ending.

A little while back on The Talking Dead podcast, (shameless plug here) the question was asked what if Rick Grimes, protagonist of the series “The Walking Dead”, had not moved the camp? Would everyone have survived longer? What would have been different? This is something that I think the tv show is going to tackle as they flirt with alternatives to the book.

This got the gears going in my head though.

I think it would be cool to do yet another zombie comic. The difference here is that you take five different teams to write the same comic. The first issue needs to be relatively consistent but from there, each team can take the story in whatever direction they like. The stories must have the same central characters and the teams can do with them whatever they please. Each book will branch off from the original at whatever point in the timeline they choose. The caveat here is that each of the 5 storylines MUST END within 12 issues.

No “to be continued”.

I am not saying the endings can’t be a little ambiguous or unclear. I am saying that the experiment would then need to be over.

I don’t know what to call it, and I don’t know what the story should be. After all, I am no writer. I think all of that could be decided by the teams as a group in a massive beer and pizza session.

Or this could just be an elaborate scheme to drink more beer and eat more pizza.
Chris Avellone Bets on "Fallout: New Vegas" by Steve Sunu, Staff Writer

Get ready to roll the dice and place your bets, because the “Fallout” universe is getting its due in a graphic novel - but this isn’t the "Fallout" you remember. In "Fallout: New Vegas" from Bethesda Softworks and Obsidian Entertainment, players get a look at the city of hopes, dreams and five dollar lobster through the lens of the Wasteland - a post-apocalyptic expanse that has swallowed the United States following a nuclear attack - and strike out on their own adventure with nothing but their brains and whatever weapons they can get their hands on.

Longtime “Fallout” fans are in for a treat this time around. The limited edition version of the game not only comes packaged with a bunch of cool collectables (including a deck of cards and poker chips featuring the logos of the in-game casinos), but also includes an original hardcover graphic novel called “All Roads” produced by Dark Horse. Setting his writing hand to expanding the “Fallout” mythos is the game’s senior designer, Chris Avellone. While comic fans may not be familiar with Avellone, video game and RPG fans will likely recognize his name from a number of critically acclaimed games including the “Icewind Dale” series and “Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II.” Keen-eyed “Fallout” fans will recognize Avellone from “Fallout 2” and the cancelled, original Fallout 3, “Van Buren.” Hardcore “Star Wars” comic fans might recognize him from “Star Wars Tales” or “Clone Wars Adventures.” Now, he’s running head-on into the wasteland of “Fallout: New Vegas” for a brand new adventure. Unfortunately, while a preview of the book is currently on iTunes, the full version will only be available with the collector’s edition of the game.

CBR News was spoke with Avellone about his first foray into the world of comics to get the who’s-who of artists working on “All Roads,” glean some details on the game’s upcoming release and pick his brain on the differences between designing a game and writing a graphic novel.

CBR News: Chris, tell us a bit about "Fallout: New Vegas" and how it builds upon the already-existing "Fallout" Mythology.

Chris Avellone: Bethesda asked Obsidian if they'd be interested in developing a Fallout game. “Fallout: New Vegas” is the result. It's the latest installment in the Fallout franchise, and it takes the player west - far out west - to the Mojave wasteland surrounding the still-glittering, walled city of New Vegas.

It takes place four years after the events in “Fallout 3,” and about four decades after the events in “Fallout 2.” The player takes on the role of a courier with the Mojave Express, contracted to deliver a mysterious package to the Strip in New Vegas... however, the journey is interrupted and the player is shot in the head and dumped in a shallow grave, Vegas-style. Then the game begins.

A page from "All Roads"

You've worked on the "Fallout" franchise before, first on "Fallout 2," then on the cancelled "Van Buren." How does it feel to be back in this universe?

Like putting on a favorite pair of old shoes you found while cleaning out your closet, wiggling your toes, and finding out not only do the shoes still fit, they're just as comfortable as you remember.

For fans of the "Fallout," what are you keeping from the previous installments and what new innovations are you adding?

“Fallout 3” was well-received, so we didn't want to mess with the elements that made it great. In "New Vegas," we just wanted to make sure there was more to do, not change the existing systems the player had come to enjoy from “Fallout 3.”

We have new reputation mechanics (factions in the game remember what you've done for and against them and respond accordingly), weapon mods, new skills, new applications of old skills, improved companion interfaces for easier companion control, traits from “Fallout 1” and “Fallout 2,” new weapons, new perks, companion quest arcs, and an open-world-style storyline that lets you decide where you stand in the Mojave wasteland - and who stands against you.

While you're senior designer for "New Vegas," you also put together "All Roads," the original graphic novel that comes with the collector's edition of the game. How exactly did that come about?

I have a good relationship with Dark Horse as I worked with Dave Marshall and Jeremy Barlow at Dark Horse during “Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords,” did a short story for “Star Wars Tales” and then four more scripts for “Clone Wars Adventures” that were a lot of fun. When it came time to explore the possibility of doing more comic book game tie-ins, I suggested an “Aliens” comic through SEGA, then an “Alpha Protocol” comic through SEGA as well - neither of these took off, unfortunately.

I was still driven to try and make it work, though - the chance to write for comics was one of my childhood dreams - so I took another run at it and introduced Nick McWhorter from Dark Horse to our “New Vegas” marketing manager, Regi Jacob, and to my huge surprise, Regi and Bethesda grabbed the ball and ran with it. At the end of it all, I got to write a book with some amazing artists - Jean Diaz ("Incorruptible") and Wellinton Alves ("Shadowland: Blood on the Streets," "Nova") and a cover by Geof Darrow. Geof Darrow! I couldn't have asked for a better chance at comic writing. Many thanks to Dark Horse and Bethesda.

What's the main plot of "All Roads" and how will it add to the experience players have in "New Vegas?"

"All Roads" starts a week before the opening movie in “Fallout: New Vegas...” If you read the graphic novel while downloading the game, you'll look up from the last page and into the opening movie seamlessly. The idea was to take the background we'd introduced for the factions, adversaries, and even areas such as Vegas and showcase them to the player to give them context for the brutal attack that occurs at the start of the game. You'll even be able to retrace the events and key locations in the comic in the game environment as well, with some possible unique items if you know where to look after reading the comic.

Did you grow up a fan of comic books? What are some of your favorites?

A page from "All Roads"

Some old school comics are in my arsenal, and some are collected story arcs into graphic novel format: "The Killing Joke" (the ending nailed it for me and I felt it was one of the best moments in comic history), "Born Again," any of Morrison's "Animal Man" or "Doom Patrol" compilations, "Watchmen" (which I read in high school), Moore's "Miracleman," "Batman: Year One," all of the Garth Ennis "Hellblazer" and "Preacher" collections, the first two years of "The Authority," "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For," Straczynski's "Midnight Nation" and "Rising Stars," and a bunch of others. I just finished reading “Dark Reign” and enjoyed it.

While you've worked on a number of games praised for their stories and secondary character development, and early in your career you wrote Dungeons & Dragons campaigns, this is your first run at doing a graphic novel. How do you feel the graphic novel format is well-suited to the story you want to tell as opposed to telling it in-game? How is writing a graphic novel different than designing a game?

In a role-playing game, especially for "Fallout," you need to design characters and events that can be approached from any direction, any faction allegiance, any character skill set and set of attributes (stupid brute, sneaky thief, silver-tongued scientist), and any order in the storyline. This can be challenging to design, so much so you may be telling three or more stories with a character depending on how they react to the player - but that range of responses are what role-players enjoy.

Graphic novels, in many respects, allow more focus, and provide more opportunity to introduce a specific theme, along with elements of the background of locations and characters that players may not have a chance to see in the game. As an example, in the graphic novel, we're able to showcase some of the history of the Great Khans through the perspective of one of their own, something that can be difficult to do from a player perspective in the game, but not from a reader's perspective.

Why should fans of the "Fallout" franchise get excited about "All Roads?"

It leads right into the opening movie, gives greater background on the people looking to kill you (even if they messed it up once), and as you explore the “Fallout: New Vegas” world, you'll see the exact same path and have a greater understanding of some of the faction politics in the game.

Do you think you'll do more "Fallout" content in the form of comics or graphic novels? Are you interested in writing comics in the future?

If there's enough fan interest, I hope that might be enough of a push for a regular series. If readers would be interested in seeing more stories in the Fallout universe outside of DLC and "New Vegas," say the word on forums. I'm definitely interested in writing more in the world of Fallout. I enjoyed writing for Star Wars, I'd love to do it with another franchise, and Fallout is near and dear to my heart ever since I played “Fallout 1,” worked on F2, and after all that I've been able to contribute to "Fallout: New Vegas."

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Update for Tomb of the Undead

It took a little while but I've managed to complete page 8, which you are welcome to view in all its glory at Tomb of the Undead. [Don't forget to click on "Follow" to basically say, "I was here."] Following won't commit you to anything, you won't even get an email or anything - you simply leave an icon that tells me that you are following along.

Also - in other graphic novel news:

Koko Be Good: complex and satisfying graphic novel about finding meaning in life complex
by Cory Doctorow
Jen Wang's Koko Be Good continues publisher FirstSecond's amazing run of thought-provoking, challenging graphic novels for adults. It's the story of Koko, a "free spirit" in San Francisco who trades on her manic energy and good looks to bumble by in mooched accommodations, borrowed clothes, and sponged meals. Then she meets Jon, a driven young man who is about to sell everything he owns to move to Peru, where his girlfriend is working in the remote orphanage her mother grew up in.

Jon isn't sure about his move, but he feels he needs to be. He quit his band after finishing college (they're now becoming an indie sensation, which puts some urgency into his choice to succeed at something other than music), and now he's not sure what his life is for or what it will come to.

When Jon meets Koko (she steals his tape recorder after a raucous performance at the Zeitgeist in the Mission), he finds himself subject to her withering scorn and tough questions. But the interrogation isn't one-way -- in the process of criticizing Jon's do-gooder ambitions, Koko comes to realize how empty her own life is.

The two of them enter into a struggle to find meaning and happiness -- to be "good" -- and embark on a difficult journey that involves a huge cast of minor characters all engaged in their own existential battles.

All the above makes the book sound moody and brooding, but it's anything but. Koko Be Good brims with manic energy and comedy, a complex story engagingly told with ingenious layouts and lovely art.

Doesn't that sound nice?

Anthony Bourdain to Cook up 'Ultra-violent Food Nerds' Graphic Novel at Vertigo
By Andy Khouri
Scourge of the Hawker Stalls. The Man Who Will Put Anything in his Mouth. Matter-Eater Lad. These are but a few possible superhero monikers for chef Anthony Bourdain, the culinary thrillseeker best known for his best-selling "Kitchen Confidential" and "No Reservations" on Travel Channel. You see, having presumably run out of unspeakably horrible things to eat as well as "Top Chef" contestants to terrorize, Bourdain is turning his attentions to the field of graphic novels via DC Comics.

As reported by Robot 6, Bourdain revealed in recent interviews that he is writing "Get Gyro", which he described as a graphic novel about "ultra-violent food nerds". "It's a gourmet slaughter-fest, sort of like 'Fistful of Dollars' meets 'Eat Drink Man Woman.'" If that doesn't sound insane enough, the acerbic chef also pitched his book as, "'Yojimbo' meets 'Big Night' and 'Babette's Feast', an ultra-violent slaughter-fest over culinary arcana.'"

Although no illustrator was mentioned, Bourdain said he's working with DC on 'Get Gyro', but Bourdain swears a lot so we can probably assume the book will be released by the publisher's Vertigo imprint.
There we are - graphic novels are now being written by chefs in their little spare time. I'm definitely among the right folks.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

DC comic adapting to the small screen

Neil Gaiman Graphic Novel 'The Sandman' Coming to TV

Neil Gaiman novel "The Sandman" is reportedly being adapted to become a television series. Gaiman, however, will reportedly not be involved. (Neilson Barnard/Getty Images) Neil Gaiman’s graphic novel The Sandman is in development for television, according to The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday. The Reporter said that the TV adaptation is in its early stages. Warner Bros. is in the midst of settling the bestselling graphic novel’s rights with DC Entertainment and deciding on the most suitable way to adapt it to the small screen.

I know that this is old news, but ... it goes to show that Hollywood isn't the only one interested in graphic novels.

the wind up and the pitch

I've finished up page 7 - it might be a few days before I can finish up the next page - though I'm well underway to having it complete. I just have a busy day tomorrow - and it might be a while to play catch up on Thursday as a result.

No matter - I've written almost three thousand words on the sequel to Tomb of the Undead, as well - so that's good news. I hope to get a bunch of it written down for Nanowrimo this year.

I hope you've been liking the story.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Stay tuned for the next scene

I just inked a bit more on pages 7 - 10, they are close to being finished. It may only take a few more days to have another substantial update. Also, I've finished a rough draft of pages 11 and 12. So things are moving along. This would take us into early scene 3.

Also - I've begun the writing of the sequel to Tomb of the Undead, which I've titled Netjerikhet's Gateway. This is something I'm writing in 'novel form' for Nanowrimo this year, which you can read more about here.

I hope you're liking the story - and be sure to click "Follow" at the top right hand corner to show to me that you're following along. I like that.