Back at New York Comic Con 2012 last month, Naughty Dog came with a surprise about their upcoming video game The Last of Us. It wasn't a spoiler or a dramatic new change to the game itself, however. Instead, it was about a comic book from Dark Horse Comics that will tie-in to the game, giving more background to the world players will experience within.Co-written by Neil Druckmann of Naughty Dog and Faith Erin Hicks, who also draws the comic, the story features Ellie, the heroin of the game, and another young girl as they grow and try to escape the destiny given to them in this post-apocalyptic world. We talked with the pair about the game, the comic, and what makes the book an essential read for players.
"When we were exploring the story, there's so much we're not even getting into in the game, especially Ellie's backstory. When we start the game, she's already teamed up with Joel, and we didn't get to explore her day to day life. This story gets to see Ellie before she's the kind of character you see in the game," said Druckmann.
He also mentioned the character Riley, the new character in the comic, and said that she and other elements of the comic could actually appear in the game.
"Because the story isn't done for the game yet, we've been able to weave a lot of the threads from the comic into the game," he promised.
Hicks meanwhile is "completely thrilled to be on this project.
"I remember watching the E3 footage from Naughty Dog and the gorgeous atmosphere of the game. I remember watching that and saying I'd love to do a comic like that. A few months later I get an email from Dark Horse! For my next trick, I'd like to wish for a million dollars."
She said one bad aspect, however, was having to be spoiled on the game's ending before she could work on the comic.
"I begged Neil not to spoil it," Hicks told Newsarama. "He offered initially and I said no, don't tell me the ending! But I did have to read the script for the whole game in order to familiarize myself with it, and it's good stuff!"Riley comes into the story as Ellie is transferred from one orphanage into another before she comes of age. Riley is 15 and will have to go into the military soon at the start of the story.
"Riley's the cool older girl in your class," said Hicks, careful not to spoil much about the character or her story. Druckmann also said that the story focuses on their relationship, much like the story of the game focuses on the relationship of Joel and Ellie.
Hicks is "really thrilled to come into Naughty Dog's sandbox to play." She said that while doing work-for-hire and writing 22 page comics is a different experience from her creator-owned graphic novels, it's also been a lot of fun.
Druckmann, meanwhile, is thrilled to make this a transmedia property from the get go, compared to Uncharted, which branched out after a couple of games. "This is the fun part when it all starts to come together and the story comes to fruition."
As a big comic book fan, he's very excited to be working in comics again. "How do we get paid to do this?" Druckmann said he and his fellow Naughty Dog employees ask themselves every day.
Watch the video below for more from Druckmann and Hicks and a few more hints about the book and game, plus news on Faith Erin Hicks next comic book work from :01 Books and Dark Horse Comics.