The legend of Critical Role's Vox Machina continues in Dark Horse Comics’ Vox Machina: Origins II limited series beginning this week. Based on the smash-hit Dungeons & Dragons actual play show Critical Role and its first campaign, Vox Machina: Origins II offers fans another glimpse into the heroes of Vox Machina in a prequel story penned by Jody Houser and Critical Role GM Matthew Mercer, with art by Olivia Samson.
It all begins when Grog shows up missing and his friends set out to find him. Their quest takes them to his hometown of Westruun - where they'll meet giant spiders, evil skeletons, and more.
Leading up to the July 10th debut of Vox Machina: Origins II #1, Newsarama chatted with Houser and Samson about adapting the expansive world of Critical Role to comics, their favorite D&D classes, and what we can expect.
Newsarama: Jody, how did you get involved with Dark Horse on Vox Machina?
Jody Houser: I'd previously met the cast doing other streaming stuff, including a Doctor Who RPG show that Taliesin Jaffe and Matt Mercer both appeared on. I was also visiting Dark Horse the same day as a big Critical Role meeting last fall. So, it was very much right time, right place.
Nrama: Olivia, this one's for you as well - what’s it like working on an adaptation of a project like Vox Machina: Origins II? It feels like creating new stories in the world of Critical Role is a little like something in between adapting a live-action work and diving into an existing comic book universe.
Olivia Samson: Before this, I didn’t have much drawing comics experience. So I don't have much to compare with, but it is nice to have some material to reference from.
Houser: I've adapted from quite a few different mediums before, but I think the fun of this comic is that I'm not working from an existing script/manuscript. So I have a lot more room to play with things like original dialogue than one might normally have with an adaptation project.
Nrama: Olivia, you worked on the original Vox Machina: Origins series as well -- has anything changed for you in terms of process, going into the second volume?
Samson: No, not really! Personally, the only change has been working with other people on this series.
Nrama: What’s it like working with MSassyK on colors? Her work is so vibrant!
Samson: She's awesome! I'm so excited when I get to see the pages after she's been at them. I can't wait until people get to see them.
Nrama: And how much do the Vox Machina players influence how you portray the characters in terms of art --how much of Sam’s mannerisms might you wind up seeing reflected in Scanlon, for example?
Samson: It can be a bit difficult to separate the player from the character while watching them play. But, I've done my best to keep an eye on the mannerisms, and such, they used when they played.
Nrama: Critical Role, and Vox Machina in particular, have such a rich lore and a devoted fanbase. What’s it like getting to introduce new origin stories with Matthew Mercer for the Vox Machina crew?
Houser: There's definitely a big sense of responsibility writing for Vox Machina, both with the devoted fanbase waiting to read and the creators of the characters giving input/notes/guidance. One of the fun things has been finding out how many fellow comic creators are Critters after the book was announced!
Nrama: More generally, what’s it like being a part of something as big as Critical Role, and seeing the fandom and the show continue to grow to the point where you see things like the Legends of Vox Machina Kickstarter hit 11 million dollars?
Houser: I've been lucky enough to work for quite a few big properties, but with the exception of Stranger Things, none are as new to the scene as Critical Role. Beyond that, getting to be a part of a storytelling experiment that has succeeded in engaging with an audience beyond anyone's dreams is a real honor. Critical Role is a game changer, and it's been awesome to watch it grow over the past few years.
Nrama: Will we get to see any new characters introduced in Origins II?
Houser: Yup! Wait and see!
Nrama: Are the two of you D&D players yourselves? What are your favorite classes to play?
Houser: There are a number of RPG systems I've played a lot more than D&D (I play Star Wars more than anything else), but I'm currently playing a fire genasi arcane trickster rogue in a fun campaign some friends and I accidentally started at a brewery. Hoping to play in more D&D games... there are still a bunch of classes I'm curious to try out!
Samson: No but I've certainly wanted to try for a while. I just haven't had the chance or time, as of yet.