|ANTHONY DEL COL & CONOR MCCREERY
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DF Interview: Anthony Del Col, Conor McCreery bring Assassin’s Creed to the comic book page
By Byron Brewer
Avid gamers know the name Assassin’s Creed well, but comic book fanboys maybe not so much. That is about to change, thanks to a new comic from Titan which has already hit stores. From writers Anthony Del Col and Conor McCreery and artist Neil Edwards, Assassin’s Creed brings the exciting temporal video game to vivid life with new characters and mysteries.
To get the 411 on this new book, Dynamic Forces spoke with Anthony Del Col and Conor McCreery. Here is what we could pry out of them (and not leave marks).
Dynamic Forces: Congratulations on getting this new writing assignment. How did it come about?
Conor McCreery: We’re very fortunate that Titan editor Lizzie Kaye is a fan of Kill Shakespeare. She reached out to us about a top-secret project earlier this year and asked us if we wanted to pitch on it. Titan did a great job lining up several amazing writers/writer-teams so this was easily the most competitive pitch process we’d ever been part of which made the fact that Titan chose “Trial by Fire” even sweeter.
Anthony Del Col: In a style reminiscent of the Assassins Brotherhood themselves, Lizzie was very cryptic about the pitch. She at first mentioned it was a video game adaptation but wouldn’t tell us what it was until we signed an NDA. As we were signing it I was thinking, “Please let it be Assassin’s Creed… Please let it be Assassin’s Creed…” When she finally told us, I was like a kid on Christmas morning!
DF: Your last comment notwithstanding, Anthony, are either of you fans of the video game franchise?
A: I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a hard-core gamer. Having said that, there are a couple of video game franchises that I really admire and Assassin’s Creed is one of them. I’ve also been fascinated how they (I hope I’m not making it too simple here…) make history cool. You can dive into any of these time periods and really feel like you’re getting to know Renaissance Italy, Victorian London or the American Revolution. That’s an amazing thing to have been able to do.
C: Assassin’s Creed has such a dynamic world. I think what’s most interesting about the game is the depth of story that Ubisoft has put into it. As writers it constantly served as an inspiration for us. I’m also excited for a chance to maybe get a sneak-peek at Syndicate. Ubisoft has done a great job at releasing new games in the series, not just updates – I can’t wait to finally get to take some carriages for a spin. Plus the whole Gangs of New York vibe has me hooked.
DF: We understand your first arc will take place in late 17th century America, coincidentally the time of the Salem Witch Trials. What is it about these historical period pieces that turns you guys on so much?
C: It’s funny that we’re seen as the “historical guys”, because when Anthony and I first started working together none of our original projects were historical. They were either modern-day, or even near-future stuff. Kill Shakespeare, our first series, was something we did as much for the epic fantasy-adventure scope as anything else. But for me, I think the opportunity to learn about the world makes these projects fun. I love history, and finding out more about Salem, or Inca-era Peru or the Boer War (all periods we considered pitching on) is why the job of writing is something I cherish.
A: History is fascinating. ‘Nuff said. If done right, a person can fully dive into a different time period and really experience it and begin to understand what it was like living there, experiencing it. By delving into history we can gain perspective on the present and look at our lives around us in a different manner.
DF: How much research will you put into this story? If it's anywhere close to what you put into Holmes vs Houdini, we are in for another great read!
A: As soon as we started to work on the Salem Witch Trials period I dove into it and began to read a number of books (fiction, non-fiction, drama) about the time period. The major aspects are well-covered in Miller’s The Crucible but it was fun learning the small little details that will make our series stand out (like the use of the terms “Goodman” and “Goody” rather than “Sir” and “Miss”).
C: I even learned how to cook a PRETTY mean eye of newt stew. Now, to be fair, I borrowed a lot of that from Lady Macbeth, but great artists steal, right?
DF: Can you tell us about some of the new characters you have created for this book?
C: Can we! We’re really excited because we’ve been able to create several new characters for the book. We’ve added two new historical Assassins. Tom Stoddard, a taciturn, “all business” veteran of the Brotherhood, and Jennifer Querry who might be the key to the whole modern day mystery. And in the modern day we’ve added Charlotte de la Cruz – a young woman who is taking on her first assignment – a quest that several lives will depend on. We’ve also added Xavier Chen – he’s more of an organizer, rather than a field agent, as well as Kody, a former street-kid who plays the Rebecca Crane “techy” role in our opus (#KeepKody).
A: Charlotte, our modern-day heroine, is faced with a “Spy Who Came in from the Cold” sort of mission. The Brotherhood has discovered that a long-serving, and thought dead, Assassin has re-appeared at Abstergo headquarters. Is he going to sell out the Assassins? Is he playing the Templar? It’s only through the memories of Charlotte’s ancestor Tom Stoddard that she will be able to determine the truth – which means she and the rest of the team will either have to try the most difficult of assassinations – one in the heart of enemy territory, or risk their lives to save their Brother.
DF: Can you compare the game to the books for gamers who might be interested in getting into your story and for comic readers who are not big gamers.
A: We were given the plum assignment to create this series with both audiences in mind: write something that will appeal to new audiences as well as the existing Assassin’s Creed fans. The easiest way to do this was the creation of our new modern-day character Charlotte and we learn what we learn. We’ve tried to make her learning curve as quick as possible but I think really make the concept of the technology and world accessible.
C: As I mentioned, Ubisoft has already built such a great mythology, I think gamers are going to find this series, as well as the exceptional Templar series that Fred Van Lente is writing, will feel like extensions to what they already know. But we’ve also been empowered to take chances with this world which is really rare and is something we’re so excited to do – so this series will definitely have an impact on the A.C. world in a way that matters.
And for comic folk who haven’t played Assassin’s Creed? I think these comics, with their intricate plots and shades of grey characters will introduce them to how much story is in the game universe. A.C. is at the very forefront as far as games that build a world that actually matters and impacts the game. To me that’s why the series is such a powerhouse.
DF: Why is artist Neil Edwards right for this book?
C: We’ve just been introduced to Neil’s work and WOW, the guy is amazing. We were shown his work on Dr. Who (also a Titan book) and Anthony and I both said: “Yes. Him. Please.” I think Neil’s great strengths are the way he choreographs action (so important in a book like ours), and his AMAZING ability to catch subtle human emotion. We’re not going to drop our Shakespearean love of drama just because we get to have a much higher body count.
A: Neil has done a great job capturing the historical elements of Salem. We’ve done a lot of research but Neil, working with editor Lizzie Kaye, have delved into so much, ranging from the outfits of the time to the binding of books. It should really be an immersive reading experience.
DF: What's next from Del Col and McCreery?
A: The Creed says that we cannot say anything...
C: You’ll have to torture us to find out any more (but, not the face. The Templar has promised me a sweet P.R. gig if I can convince Titan to kill off all the Assassins in our book).
Dynamic Forces would like to thank Anthony Del Col and Conor McCreery for taking time out of their busy schedules to answer our questions. Assassin’s Creed #2 hits stores November 11th!
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