SciFiNow talks the veteran comics scribe about the upcoming videogame DC Universe Online, as well as his thoughts on the industry’s past, present and future…
What is it that first attracted you to work with SOE on DC Universe Online?
I’ve been writing games for a while and since I love the DCU it made for a perfect fit. How could I not want to work on it?
It’s clearly a universe you have a lot of experience with. Are there aspects of it you think are better explored by videogames than more traditional formats?
I’m not sure if games allow a better exploration, but what they do allow is for you to experience what the heroes are doing by being one of them. You’re not passively reading what I write; you’re taking charge and handling situations on your own, thinking your way through what I may set up. It puts you in the scenario instead of being a spectator.
You’ve worked with some legendary artists over the years but how does working with game designers compare?
I never worked with Jim Lee who is creating so much of the visual look of the game, so that in itself is fantastic. He is so good. Also, I’ve worked with many game artists in the past on other projects and their skill is mind-boggling. The only difference is so many of them simply aren’t known. When you look at a comic you see the single art credit so you know what the artist did. In games you’re seeing many credits so you can’t always attribute who did what. But believe me they are brilliant.
Do you feel that comic book characters have got so successful now, across such a wide array of media, that it’s almost as if they don’t need comics any more?
No. There is a need for telling continued tales with strong and surprising plots. That can only be done in comics. Movies may come out every three years. A game works on a different level. But comics tell you new stories every month.
Is there anything you find limiting with the videogame format or do you now feel it’s coming into its own?
I think games are just starting to come into their own. We can do more now than in the past and thankfully in the past few years they’ve encouraged real stories. I think BioShock proved you can do a compelling and intricate story in an original setting. Now we’ll all build on that. I think we’re just entering the early part of games’ golden age.
The internet’s having a telling impact on the games industry, but do you think it’s having a positive one on the comics industry?
The internet serves to bring fans together to talk to each other – something they couldn’t do before. It helps create a family and because those who are on the boards love comics for the most part they encourage each other. That can only help.
What is it about DC’s core characters that means they can stand the test of time so well? It’s Batman’s 70th anniversary this year…
DC’s iconic characters are about core values. Superman represents the best in man. The person we would love to be. Batman represents the fears we must conquer. Wonder Woman is about mythological wonders. Flash is about pushing yourself to the limits and Green Lantern is about expanding your imagination and will. If you can think it you can make it. DC’s best characters represent us and our loves and fears.
How do you feel the comics industry has coped from a creative standpoint in recent years? It would seem that there are now more event, Crisis On Infinite Earths-type stories than ever before.
Comics and all fiction ebb and flow with the times. Yes, there are many event comics today, but if you have a good reason to do them that’s fine. It’s only when they aren’t good should you be concerned there are too many.
You’ve been heavily involved with animated projects – do you think there’s more of natural fit between videogames and this type of medium than with comics?
I think videogames is actually closer to comics than animation. Animation tells you everything. Every moment is on screen. In comics there can be time between panels where the reader needs to fill in what happened. You do that regularly in games since those in-between panel moments are the great battles we do in games.