Hey there, and welcome to the first edition of a brand new games column, Pixels and Panels. As you’ve no doubt seen by our coverage here, the worlds of video games and comic books are more closely intertwined than ever before. Games are being made featuring comic book characters (DCU Online, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2) and even just super-hero archetypes (City of Heroes, Champions Online). This is a naturally want for the comic book companies; the games industry is looking to hit nearly $30 billion this year, after $18 billion in 2007 and $12.5 billion in 2006, according to NPD Group. This massively eclipses the comic book industry, which saw about $430 million in sales (via direct market) in 2007. However, there is a definite overlap in the customer base of these two industries, and it’s one that both sides are trying to reach through the other. This column will explore comic book video games and explore games that make the leap the other direction and become comic books. We’ll track the trends, give you some previews and reviews, and explore every side of the transition from Pixels to Panels and back again.First up is Jim Lee, who just can’t get his hands out of the video game cookie jar! EA’s upcoming first-person parkour (freestyle running) covert-delivery adventure game, Mirror’s Edge has been noted by critics and fans alike for it’s stark visual style. In the first person genre, most games are muddled by dark colors, brown being the lead amongst them. Mirror’s Edge uses bright colors and lights, filling the screen with white, blue, red, and yellow. DC Comics’ Wildstorm imprint (headed by the aforementioned Lee) has taken notice, and is publishing a comic book prequel to lead into the game. The six issue mini-series had a surprise premier at SDCC this weekend, alongside the game itself. The series is written by Rhianna Pratchett, who also wrote and works as story designer on the game. Matthew Dow Smith handles the art for the series. EA wants the series to be an introduction to the lead character Faith and her co-workers in their illegal courier business, as well as establishing the world. The story is strictly a prequel, and won’t spoil any of the game’s story. This comes after several recent games/comics collaborations, including Dead Space, also from EA, World of Warcraft, published by Wildstorm, and Gears of War, and the recently named comics based on Resident Evil and Devil May Cry - all published by Wildstorm. On the flipside, many comics writers and artists have been working in video games for years, with the most high-profile recently being Jim Lee acting as Creative Director for DCUniverse Online from Sony Online Entertainment.
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