In the latest of our exclusive interviews, we sit down and chat once again with Eisner Award-winning writer Paul Tobin about his recently released Dark Horse series The Witcher, as well as his exciting upcoming projects (also from Dark Horse) Prometheus and Colder 2.
BIG COMIC PAGE: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Paul. So, let’s talk about The Witcher. How did you end up landing that gig?
PAUL TOBIN: Editor Daniel Chabon and I are friends, and he knew that I have an interest in a lot of different video games… especially role playing games, so when the Witcher project came across the desk he asked if I was interested. And… I was. I’ve really enjoyed the themes and the mood of the Witcher game, and knew they’d translate well to comics.
BCP: Were you familiar with either the novels or the video games beforehand?
PT: Both, in this case. I’ve played the games and read what was available in English for Andrzej Sapkowski’s writing. In fact, I’ve pretty much read it all, now, because they sent me a big packet of all of the novels in English, many of them translated in house so I could get an even better feel for Geralt and his world.
BCP: What kind of limitations did you have in terms of the scope of your story? Did you have much input from either [author] Sapkowski or [game designers] ProjektRed?
PT: I mostly dealt with ProjektRed, and they let me have a fairly open say on the story. I sent them a few story possibilities, and we honed it down to the House of Glass series. Mostly, they were there to make sure Geralt remained consistent as a character, and that the world was fitting.
BCP: For our readers who may not be familiar with the world, or who may not have picked up the first issue last week, can you give us a quick breakdown of the story you’re going to be telling with this series?
PT: Geralt is a witcher, a mysterious group of hunters who go after the monsters in the world. He’s good with a sword, and has a handful of sigils at his command, abilities that nearly mirror magic, such as casting flame, bolts of force, etc. He’s rather a haunted fellow, so in House of Glass he’s trying to take a break from it all, ranging across the wilderness, but encounters Jakob, a man who’s even more haunted, because his dead wife follows him around, always watching from afar. Together, Geralt and Jakob ride off, but a series of circumstances lead them to a mansion in the depths of the forest… the House of Glass. Jakob’s dead wife seems to be a resident, and it’s up to our witcher to solve the mystery of the house, where nothing is ever quite what it seems. Unless it seems dangerous, because, then… yeah. It is what it seems like.
BCP: The artist on The Witcher is relative newcomer Joe Querio. How are you finding Joe’s work, and what do you think his strengths as an artist are?
PT: Joe is fantastic. What we wanted more than anything else was an artist who could capture the mood, the tension, the eerie atmosphere of Geralt’s world. We wanted readers to be able to immerse themselves in the murk of the forest and the decaying house, and Joe really does all of this… bringing an underlying tension to the story.
BCP: Can you give us any hints about what to expect from the series in its remaining four issues?
PT: Without getting into specifics, I can tell you that nothing is ever simple in Geralt’s world. The forest he’s in, the House of Glass, the characters he’ll meet, he needs to weigh everything carefully, and to think AT LEAST twice before opening any doors, or sitting down to supper, or slipping into a bath. Keeping his sword handy is a fine idea, though. And keeping his wits about him is absolutely required.
BCP: Moving on from The Witcher, but still staying in the horror mould, I’d never forgive myself if I didn’t ask – do you have any sort of timeline for Colder 2 other than the vague promise ‘2014’? My shilling and praising of the original series has become a bit of a running theme here on BCP, and I honestly can’t wait for the follow-up.
PT: It’s still vague, but vague for a very specific reason; artist Juan Ferreyra can’t really start work on the book until we finish up our run on Prometheus together. Some of the scripts are already finished, though, and Juan has made real progress on the art, but we can’t entirely focus on it until we’re finished with the big Prometheus / Aliens / Predator / Aliens vs. Predator crossover. We’re hoping to have the next series of Colder start up in October, but… it’s hard to say. Did that help? It ended up being a very specific sort of vague, didn’t it?
BCP: Can you give us any idea of what to expect? Presumably we’re seen the last of Nimble Jack, but the teaser in the Colder TP released last October seems to hint at another – legitimately terrifying -threat.
PT: It’s a deeper look into the hungry world, the nightmare world, and Declan’s role in it. And, yeah… there’s a new threat. One that has not only Declan and Reece desperately trying to preserve their sanity, but also keeping an eye on their fingers. Did that sound weird enough? Mostly, Juan and I want to make sure that we stick to our horror theme of embracing the unsettling, and so far we’ve admirably creeped out our wives and editors, so that’s probably a very good sign.
BCP: You’re also going to be working with [Colder artist] Juan Ferreyra later this year on Prometheus as part of the new, unified Alien, Predator and Prometheus continuity that Dark Horse is currently putting together. On the subject of Prometheus, what were your honest thoughts on the Ridley Scott movie?
PT: I wish it could have been maybe 10 hours longer. Ridley had an amazing amount of story to tell, with towering concepts, but a theater film can only be so long, so there were moments where I could tell he wished he had longer to tell, more minutes to develop the characters and situations, and so on. It’s still amazing. The grandeur of it all… the immensity of the universe, I think these concepts come through, and, beneath it all, that there’s an underlying poison to the grandeur, a brutal aspect to all that beauty. I’m looking forward to him developing the mythos farther, and glad to be a part of it.
BCP: Trying to build a continuity and effectively ‘start from scratch’ with three such distinct franchises is a hell of a job. What kind of collaboration has gone on between yourself, Chris [Roberson], Joshua [Williamson] and Chris [Sebela] to make this happen?
PT: One of the reason we were brought in on the job is that we’re all friends, and all live in Portland, Oregon, which means that we can have very immediate talks about what we’re doing, how to link all our individual concepts together, and so on. Sometimes these means formalized meetings over at editor Scott Allie’s house, or maybe two or three of us will huddle in some bar, empty beer bottles and cocktail glasses playing the parts of spaceships as we explain our plans and how to further them.
BCP: And finally, is your series going to try and answer some of the multitude of questions that the movie raised, or are you going to move on and take a different look at the same world?
PT: A little of both. It’s too grand a scale to answer all the questions… the universe and the question of life are mysteries that we can’t possibly comprehend, but we touch on them. At the same time, we don’t want to step on Ridley’s toes, as he is by no means finished with exploring Prometheus and the rest of the merry mysteries. We definitely further both ends of it… the mysteries that are already in play, and then the mysteries that are lurking, waiting to be explored.
BCP: Thanks once again for taking the time to chat with us, Paul, and we’ll be sure to keep our readers posted on any further developments on these projects as they move forwards.
Interview conducted by: Craig Neilson (aka Ceej)
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