Dark Horse Promises MASS EFFECT 3 Secrets in New Art Book

ART OF THE MASS EFFECT UNIVERSE

The line between comic books and video games continues to blur and the recent announcement of The Art of Mass Effect only confirms that trend, as does the presence of Dark Horse Comics Editor Dave Marshall the Penny Arcade Expo 2011 in Seattle. Newsarama sat down with Dave amidst a hoard of card and board game players to talk about the new book and what else Dark Horse has coming up, including the first official confirmation that Dragon Age comics from Dark Horse are "on the way!"

Newsarama: Tell us a little about the just announced Art of Mass Effect?

Dave Marshall: Art of Mass Effect is coming out in February, a month before the game. It covers all three games with hundreds of pieces of never before seen concept art developed by the BioWare team, it’s going to take readers through the entire Mass Effect trilogy of games from start to finish.

Nrama: If it is going to include Mass Effect 3, will there by any information that eager fans would want to get their hands on?

Marshall: There is going to be some way juicy stuff from Mass Effect 3 in there, it’s a third of the book after all.

Nrama: There is a lot about the Mass Effect universe that hasn’t been revealed yet, will there be concept art and the like in the book like female Turians or the Salarian homeworld?

Marshall: There will be female Turians, who actually appeared for the first time in our second comic series Mass Effect: Evolution. We snuck it in there, so if anyone wants to know what a female Turian looks like check out Mass Effect: Evolution trade paperback out in October! As a whole, the Mass Effect art book has commentary by the development team, an introduction by Executive Producer Casey Hudson and an introduction by Art Director Derek Watts. It’s everything you wanted to know about Mass Effect, but were afraid to ask, all in one book.

Nrama: So Dark Horse worked closely with BioWare?

Marshall: Right. We treat all of our books and comics the same way, very developer first, very intimate working relationship with those teams because we really want to deliver something that is meaningful to fans and really expands of the core canon, the core narrative. We didn’t want to do anything that's just tangential or out of left field.

Nrama: How long is the book, and is there anything that you had to cut that you wish you could of kept in?

Marshall: The book is 184 pages in 9x12 hardcover, and there are always more great pieces that you can’t fit into a single book. I can’t think of anything very specific that was so juicy and we couldn’t put it in there, but there is always more out there than you can fit into a book.

Nrama: Is there a piece in the book you like the best that you’d like to point out?

Marshall: It’s funny you ask because our favorite piece from the BioWare team ended up being the cover of the book. [The image shown here is a promotional image] It’s this totally incredible squad shot of the key characters from Mass Effect 2, all of the people you pick up along the way. It’s a really stunning image.

Nrama: Is it a drawing or a render?

Marshall: It’s a painting. Most of the pieces inside the book are paintings. We have digital stuff in there, sketches, the whole gamut. BioWare released [that piece] as a lithograph earlier this year. All of the art in the book is from the BioWare in-house concept art team. We are hoping to introduce people to these really incredible, incredible artists whose work is pretty much behind the scenes. You think about concept art for other properties such as Star Wars. Somebody like Ralph McQuarrie, who now is a household name, but at that time was coming up with these visuals that nobody ever say but were so influential and definitive on what Star Wars eventually became. Those are the kinds of artists that are working on Mass Effect right now. We want people to be able to see the level of talent that goes on behind the scenes of these games.

Nrama: Is there appeal to those who are not fans of the franchise?

Marshall: Honesty, even if someone is not a fan of Mass Effect, if they flip through it, there are a lot of compelling reasons to check it out. It’s jaw dropping science fiction artwork. Incredible alien designs, incredible ship design, incredible weapon designs. It’s a cohesive vision, a true science fiction epic for our generation. We used this work as a reference when making our comics and it was a tragedy that no one else got to see it. So we worked with BioWare to get it out there.

Nrama: Dark Horse is a great source for game comics, anything you can tell us about what is coming up?

Marshall: We are hinting at the beginning of a Dragon Age comics program at Dark Horse, not a lot to say there right now other than: ‘it’s coming.’ We are proceeding with our Mass Effect comics program, our third series: Mass Effect: Invasion launches in October starring Aria T’Lok, the Queen of Omega, defending her space station from an onslaught of Reaper monsters. Cerberus gets involved, it’s really going to set things up for Mass Effect 3. And like our other Mass Effect comics they are written by Mac Walters, lead writer on Mass Effect 3.

We are also continuing our Star Wars: The Old Republic comic series. Our third series, The Lost Suns, is coming out right now written by a senior writer on the game, Alexander Freed.

A couple of non-BioWare books include a Valve book in November that is collecting the Portal 2, Team Fortress 2 and Left 4 Dead comics that we’ve created. Also the Rage comic series tying into the ID [Software] game is coming in November as a trade paperback.

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