Modeled on the success of their Sonic comics, last year Archie launched a new Mega Man title that's now on its 15th issue.
In September, writer Ian Flynn will introduce Proto Man to the comic's universe with Mega Man #17, bringing in one of the more popular characters from the video games on which the comic is based.
Published by Archie Comics, the comic weaves its story within the continuity set up by the original Mega Man video game — known as "Rockman" in Japan — which was released by Capcom in 1987, but has since spawned more than 50 other sequel and spin-off games, making it one of the more prolific video game franchises in history.
Flynn also writes Archie's long-running Sonic the Hedgehog series, and he's encouraging fans of the Mega Man video game to check out the character's new comic while it's still easy to jump on board.
Newsarama talked with Flynn to find out how much fans influence the comic's direction (a lot) and what he's hoping to do with Proto Man in the comic universe.
Newsarama: Ian, what's it been like writing this character for Archie since you launched the series last year? And how has your work on the series evolved along with the comic & its characters?
Ian Flynn: It's been a blast. I've always been a fan of the franchise, if not very competent in the games, and it's been both an honor and a pleasure to work with Mega Man and his world. I definitely feel more comfortable with things now that I've got a year's worth of books under my belt. No more pre-launch jitters.
Nrama: Good to hear, but you'd better brush up on your gaming skills, because fans are going to want to challenge you now that you're the Mega Man guru. Since we talked before the comic launched, a lot has happened in Mega Man. But what's coming up in the next few months?
Flynn: Right now we've got an arc running called "Spiritus ex Machina" that introduces some new villains, new heroes, and fleshes out the world of Mega Man a little bit. That'll be running in Mega Man #13-16. After that, we've got a two-part story featuring the origin story for fan-favorite Proto Man, as well as some fun back-up stories featuring Dr. Light's original Robot Masters. Tons of Mega Man goodness to be had!
Nrama: Now that you're planning to feature Proto Man, what can readers expect from his appearance?
Flynn: This is the very beginning of Proto Man's life, back when he was just "Blues."Fans of the games know him for his standoffish, man-of-few-words, cool demeanor. We're starting before all that and showing what road brought him to that place in his life.
Nrama: It's amazing that this franchise has lived so long, not only through video games but also through this successful comic. Why do you think Mega Man continues to be such a compelling character for fans of the games?
Flynn: He's a very simple, iconic figure. He fights for what's right because it's the right thing to do. There's no twisted moral conflict, no grim and grizzled proviso to his mission. He does good because he wants everyone to have a better world. It's simple, it's noble, and it's endearing. It also has bright colors, lasers and explosions so, y'know, what's not to love?
Nrama: What kind of feedback have you gotten for your work on the series, and have you incorporated some fan requests?
Flynn: The feedback has been wonderfully supportive. Veteran fans have written us to say they're happy we've captured the essence of their favorite series. New fans are hooked and see why us old folks enjoy the classics so much.We're definitely listening to fan-demand, and we're catering to it as best we can. Some folks wanted us to stretch out a little and try more original stories. We're doing just that with a lot of surprises in store for this year. Hardcore fans wanted nods to the obscure corners of the series, and we've already begun to do that with the introduction of Ra Moon from the Japan-exclusive Super Rockman Adventure. Some folks weren't wild about our four-issue format, so we're shaking that up some too. You write, we listen!
Nrama: Before the launch, you said you were starting with the classic game. But what game chronologies are you now incorporating into the Mega Man, and what are your plans going forward?
Flynn: For now, we're focusing exclusively on the Classic Series - Rock, Roll, Dr. Wily, Bass, etcetera, although you might catch a few subtle nods to the series that comes next in the chronology. We'd love to delve deeper into the Mega Man universe, but we can only do that with support from the readers. Write in to Archie and Capcom and, politely, demand more Mega Man! And keep buying the monthly issues and graphic novel trades. Sale numbers sell licensors on new projects.
Nrama: For a lot of these characters, they're pretty well known from the video games. But some are more obscure. What's the biggest challenge of writing and expanding some of the characters who might not be rounded out in the video games? And do you ever work with the game writers or other knowledgeable folks via Capcom as you write them?
Flynn: The biggest hurdle is filling in the blanks after so many fans have done so for themselves over the years. Sure, some of the Robot Masters are about as deep as their 8-bit color palette, but that hasn't stopped the fans from fleshing them out in their minds. They're coming to the book with certain expectations, and it can sometimes be a struggle to follow the nuggets of game canon, what makes sense for our stories, and meeting fanon.Capcom has given us tremendous amounts of room to work independently with their property and has shown they trust us a lot in how we approach the series. They said "Write us a Mega Man comic," and let us go wild.
Nrama: Then to finish up, Ian, is there anything else you want to tell fans about Mega Man?
Flynn: We may be one year in, but now's still a great time to jump on to the series! We've just completed up through Mega Man 2, so there's not a lot to get caught up on. And everything is being collected in gorgeous, handy graphic novel collections so that when you want to catch up, and you will, it is quick and easy. And now that we've gotten the early games behind us, it's only going to get more exciting as we delve into Mega Man's later adventures!