Comics and Gaming Magazine sat down with the writer of the new Dark Souls comic series, George Mann, and discussed the content of the first issue as well as what readers can expect from the comic in the future.
Mann is known for his Victorian fantasy novel series, Newbury & Hobbes, as well as all the content he has produced for the Doctor Who franchise. Mann was brought onto the Dark Souls creative team because of his dark fantasy work on Warhammer and because he loves the franchise as both as both a writer and a gamer.
CGMagazine: Dark Souls has been known for it’s massive lore, iconic setting and unforgettable characters. Why did you decide to build your own world and characters instead of expand on what already existed?
George Mann: I love the Dark Souls universe and the rich lore and mythology they’ve invented, but there’s a couple of reasons why we didn’t just launch in and explore what’s already gone before. Firstly, there’s a risk that we could give too much away – after all, the point of the games is to explore and investigate and discover that story for yourself, so if we delved too deep into it with our comic we might have detracted from that experience. Secondly, by creating a new story that’s (hopefully!) rooted in the tone of the games, we get to play with reader expectations and tell an interesting new story. No one knows what’s going to happen next – and that’s always exciting, I think!
CGMagazine: A theme in the games is that your main character is undead, alone, and doesn’t talk. Why did you create the main characters, Fira and Aldrich, and what do you want fans and readers to take away from their characters as the story progresses?
George Mann: Well, it’s about balancing the needs of a narrative comic against the desire to stay true to the tone and style of the games. It’s a fine line to walk. Having a couple of viewpoint characters was pretty essential to help us carry the story, but the journey they go on mirrors, in many ways, the journey through the games. Things are going to get pretty bleak for Fira and Aldrich.
CGMagazine: What aspects or themes of the games did you find interesting and incorporated into the comic?
George Mann: I love the emerging narrative, and how everything is spoon-fed to you upfront. I was very keen to carry that over into the comics, so that readers need to do a bit of digging and interpretation to work out what’s really going on, and what secrets are yet to be revealed. Aside from that, there’s that bleak undercurrent, the sense that everything is already lost, and our ‘heroes’ are just the last survivors, stumbling around in the fading light.
CGMagazine: We see a very familiar character make a cameo in the first issue, does this mean that the story is set during the events of Dark Souls 1 or is this title set in it’s own timeline?
George Mann: I’ll leave that for readers to decide!
CGMagazine: What is the most exciting thing about working on a video game tie-in comic? Are you a fan of the games yourself?
George Mann: Oh, yeah! The games are great fun, and it’s a real honor to be able to play in that sandpit, and hopefully contribute to the overall mythology of that setting. It’s a real joy.
CGMagazine: What boundaries or restrictions did Bandai Namco place on you while you were working on the title?
George Mann: Very little! They’ve been brilliant to work with. They’ve seen all of the material and have been very encouraging all the way through the process.
CGMagazine: The comic has a unique curse that afflicts the inhabitants of the world. What does the curse do to people and how do they resist its effects?
George Mann: You’ll have to keep reading to find out! But I will say this – will anyone really escape the effects? Or are they just hiding it well?
CGMagazine: We are introduced to Fira and Aldrich as a party early on, will we get to know how they met or why they feel the need to stay together in later issues?
George Mann: This is very much their story. You’re going to find out what happened to set them on this path. They’re together because of that, but also because Fira’s memory is fading as the undead curse does its work, and she’s reliant on Aldrich to guide her. She’s the muscle, the warrior, and he’s the one who seems to know everything that’s really going on…
CGMagazine: Do you plan to introduce any new characters to the party as the story progresses or will we stick with Fira and Aldrich to the end?
George Mann: I can’t promise anyone survives. This is Dark Souls, after all! They might meet a few other people on their way, but this is very much their tale.
CGMagazine: How do Fira and Aldrich compliment each other as a duo, what is the greatest strength and weakness each adds to the party?
George Mann: Fira is a Knight – she’s a fighter, able to make difficult decisions, and if anyone is going to see them through this alive, it’s going to be her. But Aldrich is the one with the arcane knowledge, as well as a functioning memory. He’s Fira’s guide. They need each other. Neither can complete this quest alone.
CGMagazine: How many issues is the comic expected to have before the story is finished?
George Mann: The first arc spans four issues. We’ll have to see how things develop after that. Hopefully people will like them and come back for more!