Video games in part led to the abrupt end of Joe Madureira's Battle Chasers in 2001, and now 15 years later they're the cause for its return.
Madureira' has announced that Battle Chasers will return with new issues in 2016 coinciding with the release of a video game, Battle Chasers: Nightwar. With the video game's Kickstarter skyrocketing through it's $500,000 funding goal in less than a week with over 10,000 backers contributing an average of $59 each, the demand is definitely still there.
Madureira spoke to Newsarama about the return of Battle Chasers, the influence of video games on the comic books in the early 2000s and how his video game career brought him full circle.
Newsarama: Joe, why are you returning to Battle Chasers?
Joe Madureira: I founded a game studio called Airship Syndicate, with a few seasoned vets from Vigil and the Darksiders games, and we settled on the idea that our first game would be classic JRPG inspired. We toyed with the idea of creating a new fantasy IP—but Battle Chasers is already so perfect for this type of game, and it would give me an excuse to finally produce a few new issues, which has been something on my backburner for years. And I knew that Battle Chasers fans would be excited.
Nrama: Given that the original Battle Chasers series was heavily inspired by fantasy games, did you ever think about translating it to games before this?
Madureira: Honestly, as much as Battle Chasers was inspired by all the games and anime I loved growing up, I never dreamed that I’d someday be working in the game industry. At one point early on when the series first started, THQ actually acquired the game rights to Battle Chasers, but never did anything with it. Once I finally made it into the business, I quickly realized that if it was ever going to happen I would probably have to do it myself. It’s been a long and crazy road, but here we are: working on an RPG that’s based on a comic book that was inspired by RPGs.
Nrama: And for your comic book fans, the big news is you'll be returning to continue Battle Chasers beginning with #10. What can fans expect?
Madureira: Battle Chasers #10 will kick off a three-issue story arc ( hopefully the first of several ) that concludes in #12. It picks up right where #9 left off, which seems kind of crazy after so many years, but I didn’t want to make it a full relaunch or a mini-series. Fans want the original series to continue, and I prefer that too. Because I can’t commit the time right now to a monthly, or a large stretch of issues, I’m going to try this idea of smaller arcs, and see how it goes. I’m sure it’s not the comeback everyone’s been waiting for, but hopefully it’s a good start.
Nrama: And almost more importantly, when can they expect it?
Madureira: I don’t even want to guess at a release date right now, as it’s being produced alongside the game’s development, but I am shooting to get #10-#12 wrapped before the game hits late next year.
Nrama: In the last issues of Battle Chasers, you had Adam Warren do back-up stories -- will you be bringing in anyone else to work with you on the continuation?
Madureira: Right now it’s all me! Though you can bet I’ll be hounding some of my favorite artists for covers and pinups!
Nrama: Prior to this interview, you told me the Battle Chasers is independent from the Battle Chasers: Nightwar video game Kickstarter. That Kickstarter has already met its goal, so will the time needed to finish that came impact if and when the comic book series comes out?
Madureira: The Kickstarter campaign is for the game only. The comic would still happen regardless of whether or not the campaign is successful. It’s something I’m doing myself, outside of Airship Syndicate and the game’s development. Working on the game absolutely does cut into my schedule with the comic book, which is why I chose the ‘story arc’ approach. It’s just easier to schedule and manage my time juggling both projects.
Nrama: Let's talk more about Battle Chasers' long ties to games. Many people played Final Fantasy and Suikoden while reading the original Battle Chasers in the 1990s, and you echoed those as inspirations. Can you talk about your interest in those and how it played into your work then and now?
Madureira: They’ve always been a huge influence. Square got their hooks in me first with Final Fantasy III ( which was actually 6 ) and Chronotrigger on the SNES. Because I also loved anime, I’d hit up Japanese bookstores in New York City and find all these import magazines that featured tons of amazing artwork from games that never came to the states. My eyes and my heart exploded!
When PlaysStation first came out, I couldn’t wait for it to hit the United States, so I bought a Japanese import, and the Japanese edition of Arc the Lad. I couldn’t read a thing, but somehow through trial and error I managed to finish the game. [Laughs]
I also did this with Persona, though thankfully JRPGs took off, and we got tons of them translated into English. Lunar: Silver Star Story and Suikoden (1, 2 and 5) are also among my favorites. And all of those stories, character designs, and even music (which I listened to while drawing ) had a huge impact on Battle Chasers. Which is why it felt so different at the time. I think the only other fantasy comics on the stands in the U.S. were Conan titles, and occasionally an awesome mini like Slaine: The Horned God. Battle Chasers was the blender that I tossed all my JRPG, anime and comic book influences into—and thankfully it made something yummy!
Nrama: How much of the Battle Chasers: Nightwar game is already completed, and when do you plan for it to be released?
Madureira: We have just a small slice of the final game finished right now, though most of the important systems and core gameplay are in place. We are targeting December 2016 for final release.
Nrama: DC just revealed you're doing some variant covers for them in December. Do you have any other outside work planned, or is Battle Chasers and Battle Chasers: Nightwar the primary focus?
Madureira: Right now, except for an occasional cover (or favor!) it’s all Battle Chasers, all the time. And I couldn’t be happier!!