|GEORGE MANN & ALAN QUAH
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DF Interview: George Mann & Alan Quah bring horrific adventure of video game franchise to comics in Dark Souls
By Byron Brewer
Welcome to the world of Dark Souls: a landscape bathed in arcane fantasy, where primordial forces govern the tides of time, bonfires flicker in the darkness, and the undead stalk the earth in search of impossible redemption.
From scribe George Mann, artist Alan Quah and Titan Comics comes Dark Souls, a comic book original tale of adventure and visceral horror that throws readers deep into the twisted myth of Namco-Bandai's award-winning video game franchise.
Dynamic Forces wanted to find out the full 411, so we sat down with Mann and Quah. This is what they told us.
Dynamic Forces: George and Alan, I understand the first two issues of Dark Souls sold out. Congratulations! How does that feel, coming right out of the gate?
George Mann: Oh, it’s tremendously rewarding to know that people are picking it up. I tried to remain philosophical about the first issue – people didn’t know what to expect, and were undoubtedly drawn to it because of the fact it’s a Dark Souls comic, first and foremost. But for the reprint to sell out too, and then for the second issue to sell out and go to reprint on the day of release – hopefully that means people are enjoying it and want to see where this story is going to go. Like Alan says, it certainly makes you want to up your game and deliver your best work.
Alan Quah: Thank you, sir. It’s a great feeling to know that a book we worked on sells well and in this case sold out. Going into Dark Souls #1, my focus was to give my best and hopefully the fans will like my interpretation. So when the news that issue #1 sold out, my immediate reaction is to do even better. I wrote my editor and asked for a week’s extension of my deadline for the next issue and dived in to address whatever “mistakes” I made prior. I believe I spent a total of 300 hours on issue #2 making sure I get the emotion and feel of the script right. So yeah, when the news that #2 sold out again the 300 hours seemed justifiable after all. I plan to up the game even more on issue #3 and hopefully it will be even better. (smiles)
DF: So are you guys gamers? If so, have you indulged yourself in Dark Souls?
George Mann: I’m definitely a bit of a gamer. I wish I had more time to spend in front of my Xbox, but with deadlines to consider, I don’t get anywhere near as much time as I’d like. I’m currently working my way through Rise of the Tomb Raider, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate and Dark Souls 3. So yes, I’ve indulged in all of the Dark Souls games so far, but have to admit – I tend to get killed a LOT.
Alan Quah: Unfortunately my work doesn’t allow me to play many games, whatever time is left on my plate goes to my family. My knowledge of Dark Souls comes from Tom Williams, my editor, and from George, both of whom have been instrumental in keeping me on track, plus the number of hours studying the game play on YouTube.
DF: George, does the current comic book from Titan Comics take place within the continuity of the game? If so, where is its place?
George Mann: Good question! We decided to keep this consciously a little vague, so as not to get in the way of anything that Bandai/Namco are doing with the video games. But as I see it, we’re seeing these new events unfold in a different epoch of the same world – everything in the Dark Souls universe is cyclical anyway, so whether Fira and Aldrich’s story is set in the future or the past, relative to what you’ve seen in the games…well, that’s up to the readers to decide!
DF: Good answer! … Are these new stories taking place in the DS Universe, or adaptations of gaming lore?
George Mann: Again, we set out from the start to craft a new tale that’s nevertheless firmly rooted in the universe of Dark Souls. So yes, it’s drawing inspiration from the gaming lore, but this is a brand new tale set in the Dark Souls universe. For me it was very much about trying to get the tone right, and hit some of the key touchstones of the Dark Souls mythos, while still trying to do something new and exciting for readers and people familiar with the games.
DF: Tell us a little about the storyline and protagonists.
George Mann: Well, I don’t want to give away any secrets! And there are plenty of those still to be uncovered in the next couple of issues. But essentially we’re following the story of Fira, a female knight from a broken order, and Aldrich, a kind of shamanic scryer, as they attempt to reunite a number of artifacts crafted from the remains of an ancient dragon, Andolus. They hope to use Aldrich’s magic to resurrect the dragon, at which point Fira intends to kill it, as legend tells that it’s dying breath will have a restorative effect on the land, banishing the curse for a time – and thus saving Fira, her family, her order and the people of her village, Harrowmark. But this is Dark Souls…so don’t expect things to go quite as planned!
DF: Alan, what are the challenges for an artist of bringing a “video” universe into a “comic book” universe? Has that been difficult for you with Dark Souls, and if so how did you meet this challenge?
Alan Quah: I must admit it has been tough, even though I spent many days studying the Dark Souls universe before starting work on it; it still wasn’t enough. The biggest hurdle to me is to get the approval of the gamers, the fans who obviously know the game inside out. With this in mind, I tried my best to stay in tune with the look of the universe while adding my own touch to it. I like to think I am getting there with each issue with the help of Tom and George to put me back in line if I stray too far.
DF: Did you do design work for the book? If so, was this under observation/direction of the DS video franchise or were you given carte blanche?
Alan Quah: My focus for this project is purely on the covers and the internal pages. And Bandai/Namco has been very accommodating with our work with very little changes if none at all. The designs are all credited to our graphic design team at Titan which I think did a brilliant job on the packaging.
DF: What has been your favorite thing to draw in the book?
Alan Quah: The bosses! I had a lot of fun designing and drawing the bosses and the mini bosses. I also enjoyed drawing the environment of the Weeping Forest.
DF: So, guys, tell us what other projects you have going or soon to come out, as you can …?
George Mann: Well, aside from more Dark Souls, I’m currently writing a run of issues for the Doctor Who: Twelfth Doctor ongoing comic series, and then there’s the Doctor Who 2016 Event, Supremacy of the Cybermen, which I’ve co-written with Cavan Scott. That’s debuting on Doctor Who Comics Day, the ninth of July. Other than that, I have a brand new novel, Ghosts of Karnak, just published. So it’s proving to be a busy year!
Alan Quah: I’m not allowed to reveal anything yet, but Titan has been an amazing employer and plans are set in motion to keep me busy beyond this miniseries. I am sure they will announce it very soon. Thank you for having me.
Dynamic Forces would like to thank George Mann and Alan Quah for taking time out of their busy schedules to answer our questions. Dark Souls #2 from Titan Comics is in stores now!
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