Ortega & Sharp on Gears of War Comic

Ortega & Sharp on Gears of War Comic

In 2006, Gears of War, Microsoft and Epic Games’ tactical third-person shooter video game, went triple platinum, reaching the three million units sold milestone in just 10 weeks, and was the fastest-selling title of 2006 and the fastest-selling original exclusive Xbox 360 game of all time. It was also the second most-played game over Xbox Live in 2007. To date, the game has sold over five million copies.

With a proven success in hand, is it any wonder that a sequel to the critically acclaimed best-seller was announced early this year, with a release date set for November?

If that wasn’t enough, New Line Cinema, a division of Warner Bros., is working on a film adaptation with Len Weisman (Underworld) attached as director and Chris Morgan (Wanted, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift) rewriting the script. Stuart Beattie (30 Days of Night, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra) wrote the original script.

Del Rey Books is doing a novel entitled Gears of War Pendulum Wars The Battle of Aspho Fields with military science fiction writer Karen Traviss and it is due out in October.

On the comic book front, DC/WildStorm is producing the Gears of War ongoing series beginning in October, with Gears of War 2 video game scriptwriter and comic book writer Joshua Ortega and artist Liam Sharp.

We spoke with both Ortega and Sharp about the new series.

Newsarama: Joshua, you wrote the Gears of War 2 video game but how did the idea of doing a comic book tie-in come about in the first place?

Joshua Ortega: There had been talks for a while about doing a Gears of War comic book, ever since the first game was released and was such a success. This was in the works even before I came onboard to write Gears 2, but it always seemed a natural to me with the amazing visuals, the action-horror, and the cool characters and setting… perfect stuff for a comic treatment. Once I signed on to write Gears 2, I started working with Mike Capps, Cliff Bleszinski, and Rod Fergusson from Epic Games to figure out how to best bring Gears to comic book form.

NRAMA: DC/WildStorm has published other games-related comics like Everquest, Resident Evil and World of Warcraft. What do you guys, who're no stranger to comic book fans, see in the Gears of War franchise in comic book format?

Liam Sharp: Playing the game I can see that there's so much potential to add more to the world of Gears of War, much like the Animatrix did for the Matrix I think. It's so rich, incredibly detailed, but it's such an amazingly kinetic game you barely get time to take stock and think about the characters, their motives, the history of the Gears of War world. A comic can offer that, while still keeping things exciting... it's basically just another way of telling the stories, and artistically it's a good fit too.

JO: Liam brings up a great point, sometimes the game can be so intense, you don’t have time to stop and look at everything, or to always listen up for the story. With the comic, you’ll have more time for all of that. Doing a comic, or a movie or TV show, you have other advantages as well… things you can’t do in a game because of time or lack of game assets. Even little things like showing Marcus out of armor is a huge deal in a game, though it’s relatively simple for a comic or a film.

New characters, vehicles, creatures, that’s also another advantage… those are big hits on the art department of a game company, not so big of hits on the comic book artist. That is, as long as Liam doesn’t mind designing lots of new stuff! [laughs]

NRAMA: Joshua, the comic will take place in the six-month gap between the two Gears of War video games and that fans of the game and readers of the comic will find out what actually happened to Dominic Santiago's wife, Maria, right?

JO: Yeah, the comic will bridge the gap between Gears 1 and Gears 2, and will be closely tied into both of those games… gamers will notice a lot of cool details, and we’ve all made sure it’s also a good read for those who’ve never played Gears before.

As far as Maria goes, you’ll definitely get some more info in the comic, though look to the game for all of the major answers!

NRAMA: And what else will be covered within?

JO: One of the coolest things about the comic is that we’ll be introducing the first new Gear to be created outside of the games: Jace Stratton, a young Gear who will have to face some ghosts from his past. We’ll also be delving into a lot of the new themes and events of Gears 2, which I’ll be able to talk more about later!

NRAMA: Other than Jace, Delta Squad will add new members such as Tai and Dizzy. And there's Chairman Prescott, who's in charge of COG. Will the comic be introducing new characters who could possibly star in their own Gears of War spin-off comic book projects?

JO: Other than Jace? Hmm, that’s not a bad idea…

NRAMA: Liam, were you involved with the game at all?

LS: Not at all, but looking at it you'd be forgiven for thinking so!

JO: By the time Liam joined up with Gears, the art team at Epic was too far along. However, I imagine that Liam and Chris Perna (art director at Epic) would get along quite well… I know at the very least they both love Frazetta!

NRAMA: As an artist, what do you find the most visually appealing about the game's characters, the world that they live in, and the aliens that they encounter?

LS: For me it was nothing to do with it being a tie-in to a game that attracted me when Joshua first contacted me about possibly doing something way back last year, it was everything else - the characters, environments, monsters... It felt really familiar. The deeper I got into looking at everything, not having the game at the time and just going on the visuals, the more I felt I could be well-suited to it. The imagery felt sort of like The Death Dealer with guns - something epic that would require a lot of detail, energy and I guess my kind of grittiness - and that really appealed to me.

NRAMA: Finally, guys, will gamers find secret codes and Easter eggs in the comic?

JO: Well, if we told you that, it wouldn’t be a secret now, would it? [laughs]

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