2UP: Legends of the Arcade return to digital comic glory
|INTERVIEWS - PRINT|
Shadowlocked is very excited to get interest from a genuine comics legend...
Who in their right mind is going to passes the opportunity to have a curry night all paid for?
I was guest of Namco Bandai's Shiftlook, a label/front/project/group/website where writers and artists selected from a collection of great entertainment publishers and creators: Udon Entertainment, Studio HIVE, Cryptozoic Entertainment and Velvet Engine are resurrecting some well-loved characters from the 80s and 90s arcade and console platforms. It makes for a diverse range of stories and treatments. I wanted to know why the arcade legend wanted to get into comic-frenzy reboot mode.
I had the opportunity to catch up with Robert Pereyda of Namco Bandai Games Inc, himself a contributing writer, and the other writers and artists that make up the Shiftylook operation for the games giant, including Jim Zub the writer of the very clever Skull Kickers published by Image comics. I asked Jim, the writers behind the strip for Skykid, Why Namco Bandai have created Shiftylook. "We're creating a series of web comics that are freely available online for fans of a range of game titles. We we're given free-reign to develop comics based on the old portfolio of Namco Bandai games".
If you're wondering who Namco Bandai are, you must have been either locked in a nuclear bunker, or you haven't experienced the sweaty coin-shovelling thrill of arcade games. But just in case, this amalgamation of two legends of the arcade are responsible for the biggest golden greats of arcade gaming history: 'Pac-Man', 'Tekken', 'Soulcalibur', 'Galaga', 'Ridge Racer', 'Ace Combat' and 'Dragon Ball'. Many of these titles have already been very successful licenses in comics and cartoons. But there is a mine of other great - and perhaps not-so-great titles that are ready to be unearthed in a Dig-Dug style. Speaking of which, that's one of the titles given the Shiftylook treatment by Robert Pereyda as writer, with Javier Charro providing the brilliant artwork for the 30th anniversary of the creation of the cheeky subterranean excavator.
Back to Jim Zub. With a look of a kid with candy, he handed me his Android tablet (shock horror - not an iPad. Meh) we flicked through a series of short online comics. Now, I myself am not a great fan of online comics. So I was rather dubious, but I found that the writer and artist team had made good use of a very limited screen area for the web and that the level of writing was witty and panel layout was engaging for what the target platform allowed for.
So was it hard to develop? Jim was eager to explain his process: "I had eight weeks to develop the series and I broke it down into sub part's to create the structure and make each episode with the artist Jeff Cruz on 'Sky Kid'. Talking to Jim it was obvious that even though this was a web comic the same creative process and standards were being applied to a web comic as a printed title. It’s no surprise when you know that Jim is also the writer behind other Udon titles such as 'Makeshift Miracle: The Girl From Nowhere'. This is a sophisticated piece of storytelling combined with verily elegant and touching yet dynamic art work by Shun Hong Chan.
Getting it up with Sky Kid
But what is really behind the motivation of Namco Bandai to get old games dusted off and given the transmedia treatment? Jim explained that their comics have been designed to engage the young and teen audiences and introduce them to titles that adults will remember. "The comics will help us to see what interests kids and we can really engage them with good stories to raise awareness. Bandai have let us do pretty much what we want to do with these old titles and they trust us to do a good job"
Eating a curry in the swanky Dockmaster's restaurant in London’s “trendy” Docklands is an experience you don't normally find in a typical curry house, especially when the starter is not lime pickle and all the poppadum you can eat. When you get a starter with a French name and not much of it, followed by a long list of several courses it’s something special. I struggled with my conscience not to order a Cobra and instead opted for a glass of Shiraz. Now, I like beer, and I love wine and so did the very nice gentleman who sat next to me. I knew he was writer and talking with him I liked him. He also made it a very special evening.
The chap had a New York Brooklyn accent tamed by L.A. He was a very pleasant dinner companion and he knew about serious writing for movies and games. He knew a lot about comics. We talked a lot about movies and Hollywood and I dropped a few names. Oh, did I say this gentleman introduced himself as Marv? He wanted to know all about what Shadowlocked was about. By now you probably have some clue as to who he was. I was a bit slow and as I listened to his feedback and advice, I knew he was someone who you could listen to all day and learn a lot about the craft of comic book writing.
Yes I was sat next to Marv Wolfman.
The same Marv Wolfman I grew up reading his stories of 'The Fantastic Four', 'Doctor Strange' and the 'Amazing Spider-Man'. Yes the one who created 'Blade'. I realised this when he started to tell me about the titles he worked on. Well I did manage not to hug him, but I did tell him how he influenced my childhood. I'm not sure how that goes down when you have a large forty something adult grinning from ear to ear staring at you. He goes to quite a few comic expos so he reassured me he was… used to it.
Still Digg’n it at 30.
So does this give you an idea about how serious Namco Bandai are at making sure a great team is behind the comics and how much value the put behind their archive of game titles? It should. The art talent as well is considerable in their ability to create different styles that are relevant and capture the heart of the some classic game characters. While the idea of adapting games to a different media is nothing new, Namco Bandai are at least putting effort in to their strategy and making it work for a new generation.
Visit www.shiftylook.com for more details and to see the latest online comics.
Marv Wolfman deserves a feature all of his own as does probably the rest of the creative talent that ate behind Shiftylook. stay tuned on that one.
Comics created for the Shifylook.com website so far:
Sky Kid - Writer: Jim Zub, art by: Jeff "Chamba" Cruz
Wonder Momo - Writer: Jim Zub and Erik Ko. Art: Omar Dogan
The Five-Dimensional Adventures of Dirk Davies - Writer: Ben McCoo
XEVIOUS - Writer: Mike Costa and art by: Mike Norton
Dig Dug - Writer: Various and Artist: Various
Scar - Writer: Edmund Shern and artist: Studio HIVE
ALIEN CONFIDENTIAL - Writer: Sharon Scott and artist: Andrew Pepoy
Rapid Thunder - Writers: Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray and art by: Ju
Rocket Fox - Writer: Stacy King with art by: Shane Law
BRAVOMAN - Writer: Matt Moylan and art by: Dax "D-Gee" Gordon
More about Namco Bandai
The company is known for creating and publishing many classic video game tiles and franchises, including:
PAC-MAN®, Tekken®, SOULCALIBUR®, NARUTO™, NARUTO SHIPPUDEN™, Dragon Ball®, GALAGA®, RIDGE RACER® and ACE COMBAT®.
For those of you who love lists… here's one of some notable Namco Bandai games. I'm sure there's more I've not listed.
Click to enlarge
Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War
Naruto: Ultimate Ninja
Pac-Man World Rally
Tales of the Abyss
.hack//G.U. Vol. 1//Rebirth
Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception
Digimon World DS
Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2
Mobile Suit Gundam: Crossfire
Naruto: Uzumaki Chronicles
Ridge Racer 7
Tamagotchi Connection: Corner Shop
Tamagotchi Connection: Corner Shop 2
Xenosaga Episode III: Also sprach Zarathustra
Inuyasha: Secret of the Divine Jewel
The Legend of Heroes III: Song of the Ocean
Mario Kart Arcade GP 2
.hack//G.U. Vol. 2//Reminisce
Naruto: Ultimate Ninja 2
Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology
Naruto: Uzumaki Chronicles 2
.hack//G.U. Vol. 3//Redemption
Digimon World Dawn and Dusk
Namco Museum DS
Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation
Namco Museum Remix
Nodame Cantabile: Dream Orchestra
One Piece: Unlimited Adventure
Tamagotchi: Party On!
Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 3
Naruto: Ultimate Ninja 3
Digimon World Championship
Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World
Tales of Vesperia
Mario Super Sluggers
Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 3 DX
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja 4
One Piece: Unlimited Cruise
Soulcalibur: Broken Destiny
Tales of VS
Tekken 6: Bloodline Rebellion
Fragile: Farewell Ruins of the Moon
Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology 2
Tales of Graces
Enslaved: Odyssey to the West
Tank! Tank! Tank!
Ace Combat: Assault Horizon
Tales of Xillia
Solatorobo: Red the Hunter
Project X Zone
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