In the next few months, WildStorm will be publishing several comic books based on video games.
One of those comics, Driver, is being written by critically acclaimed creator David Lapham, whose independent comic Stray Bullets won him an Eisner Award for Best Writer/Artist.
The Driver comic, which has interior art by Greg Scott with a cover by Jock, will bridge the time between the Dr3ver game and the new Driver: San Francisco that comes out early next year from Ubisoft. Although the release date for the comic hasn't been announced, the plan is to publish the comic before the next game is released.
Although the Driver comic is only one issue, it's hard to imagine how a video game that relies so heavily on car chases can translate to a comic. But the key to the issue lies in where the Dr3ver game left off. The third game ended with lead character John Tanner wounded because of a shootout, and this comic will reveal what comes next.
Newsarama caught up with Lapham to find out how he's going to handle the issue, and why he wanted to tell a story in the Driver universe.
Newsarama: David, what appealed to you about this project?
David Lapham: It just seemed like fun. Ben Abernathy from Wildstorm called. We worked really well together on Sparta U.S.A. and on Ghost. When I work well with people I’m already inclined to say yes and driver was a project I knew I could have fun with.
Nrama: Are you a video game player? If so, any favorites?
Lapham: Yes. The last few years with kids and work there’s not the kind of time to play long involved games. But I do love them and the glorious false sense of accomplishment they bring. After spending weeks playing SSX Tricky (the snowboarding game) years back I still think I’m an expert on the subject. I was a big fan of the Resident Evil and Silent Hill games. Funny, not a horror movie fan so much, but I love it when a game scars the pants off me. Grand Theft Auto and Driver were games I was into. These days it has to be a shorter game. Arcade-like games on the phone or Rock Band (Is that uncool to say?).
Nrama: Had you played Driver before getting the gig?
Lapham: Yes. The first two.
Nrama: Does something like this — writing a story that fits in between two established stories — already fit within your skill set, or is it challenging you in new ways?
Lapham: No, it’s easier in a lot of ways because there’s something to draw on. I’m not creating an entire game concept in itself; I’m just taking this character, Tanner, and telling a story. The challenge here is that in a video game the player becomes the character, so the character is very open. Where in the comic book, I’m taking him and making him into somebody. And I want that somebody to be cool. Somebody with an edge that fans might want to see more stories about yet is still true to the concept of the games.
The hard part is also the fun part though.
Nrama: You have a lot of loyal fans in the comic book readership that might not necessarily be fans of this video game. Do you think there's still a story for them in this issue? What might appeal to them about it?
Lapham: Yes. What they wanted from me, and the only way I could approach this, was to write a good one-issue crime story. If you’ve never even heard of the video game you still get a story about an obsessed undercover cop whose specialty is driving.
Nrama: What does the conflict boil down to in the video game, and how is the comic the same as or different than that conflict?
Lapham: Well, I don’t know what happens in the new game. But in the last game featuring Tanner he fights a criminal called Jericho. As the game ends either Jericho or Tanner is dead. We don’t know. In the comic we find out it was Tanner that was killed. So, I believe the game is Tanner coming back after Jericho. My story begins that process, showing how far Tanner will go to get the man who killed him. This is where I wanted to give Tanner a real edge and show how “driven” he is in this pursuit.
Nrama: What can you tell us about who Tanner is as a character in this comic? And what will we learn about him?
Lapham: As I said, he’s died and been revived and now he’s coming back to get the man that did it at all costs ... We’ll learn if that’s true. How far is Tanner willing to go to get Jericho?
Nrama: How do you approach all the car chases that are so familiar to players of the game? Are they part of the comic as well?
Lapham: With only one issue we have to be strategic or 22 pages will be gone in (I won’t say 60 seconds) an instant. We need to take room to tell the story, however we’ve got some chases, and I don’t think fans of the game will feel like they were ripped off. Tanner is never far from some very cool muscle car.
Nrama: What else are you working on right now? And what do you have coming out in the next few months?
Lapham: Right now I have Crossed: Family Values coming out that I wrote for Avatar based on the world of Garth Ennis’s Crossed. That’s a seven issue limited. I’m doing a Deadpool MAX ongoing with Kyle Baker, Kull, with Dark Horse, and Damaged, a six-issue series from Radical. Sparta USA just concluded with issue 6 (“sniff”). I’m writing and drawing a Creepy short story also with Dark Horse, and I’m doing a fill in issue on art duties for DMZ for Brian Wood, which I’m very excited about.
Nrama: Anything else you want to tell readers about the Driver comic?
Lapham: It's got an awesome cover by Jock so you won’t miss it on the stands.
Also buy it. I need to eat.