The new Dark Souls series from Titan Comics recently hit shelves and we were given a chance to talk to writer George Mann on his creative process, his past experience with dying repeatedly, and how he got the chance to write a series about the hardest games on the block.
AiPT!: How were you introduced to the world of Dark Souls, and have you played the games?
George Mann: Oh, yeah. I’ve played both of the first two games on my Xbox 360, although I must admit –- I die a LOT. When Titan approached me about being involved in the comic series, I jumped at the chance. Grim fantasy is right up my street!
AiPT!: With the games being widely praised for the distinct lack of plot and information, how did it feel to create one?
George: It’s been challenging! There’s a lot of rich background and world building in the games — it’s just presented in a non-linear fashion, encouraging you to dig deeper and uncover some of the secrets for yourself. We wanted to get a bit of a feel for that with the comic, too, so we were very keen not to present all of the answers upfront in issue #1. We want some of the story to be implied, and for readers to read between the lines and get a sense of what’s really going on. Are they really reliable narrators you’re seeing? Or is there more to the story?
AiPT!: Was there any input or guidance from Miyazaki or the From Software team?
George: Not specifically. I imagine those guys are hard at work making more great games. They’ve been very supportive, though, and Titan have worked closely with them to make sure they’re happy with what we’re doing.
AiPT!: There’s a distinct horror feel to the Dark Souls world – was it fun to try to balance that with the sword & sorcery aspects?
George: It’s been an interesting challenge. I think the key thing has been to try to capture the tone of the Dark Souls universe, rather than all of the specifics. And while we’re tried to remain true to the gaming experience, for a comic you need to introduce some different narrative elements, such as the fact Fira is travelling with a sidekick. Otherwise there’d be very little dialogue to help move the story on. So really it’s about finding a way to tell a story in the specific medium you’re working in, while still ensuring you’re being true to the tone and feel of the original material.
AiPT!: How much advance information about Dark Souls 3 were you allowed to see to help with plot and setting?
George: The new game was always off the table, but we’d always planned to do a brand new story of our own, anyway. Everything in the Dark Souls universe is cyclical, so we knew from the outset that there were unexplored epochs and regions. That’s where Fira and Ishra come in, along with Baron Karamas and the other people and creatures you’ll meet throughout the series. We’re building up a little corner of the Dark Souls universe, hopefully adding to the mythology of the world.
AiPT!: Did you go with a female protagonist to increase the feeling of loss, i.e. her family, or was it just a creative decision?
George: I guess it was just a creative decision. It was one of the first things I decided to pitch to Titan, actually – I just had a sense of this woman and her dreadful story, and how she had come out of it fighting, raging against the world and trying to put things right. She’s a complex character with a lot going on. And yes, there’s a part of that informed by her family, but that could apply equally to a male protagonist – there’s also her fading memories, the challenges she has to face, questions about who she can trust, and her overall sense of loss at what’s happened to her Knightly Order.
AiPT!: The inclusion of fan favorite Solaire was a great easter egg – should we look forward to more appearances?
George: I don’t want to give anything away! But as I mentioned earlier, there are tons of new characters in this corner of the Dark Souls universe, and hopefully people are going to grow to love them, too. If we end up doing more comics in the future, I’d love to explore some of the other characters from the games, too.
AiPT!: With death and resurrection being a key gameplay aspect, should we not get too attached to these characters?
George: This is Dark Souls! What do you think? 😉
AiPT!: How did you get started in comics?
George: I’ve always loved comics, and read them voraciously. I have ever since I was a child. So I guess it’s only natural that at some point, as an established novelist, I’d want to turn to comics too. Titan were good enough to buy a creator-owned series based on my Newbury & Hobbes novels, and on the back of that and a bestselling Doctor Who novel I’d written for BBC Books, invited me to pitch for the Doctor Who comic range. It’s kind of grown from there, and now I’m kicking myself for not taking the plunge sooner. Now I can’t imagine a time when I won’t be writing comics!
AiPT!: Thanks George for all the excellent insight into your process and the world of Dark Souls. We are excited to see what’s coming next!