Starting as a solitary survival-horror game in 2008, in only five years EA Games has built "Dead Space" into one of the video game industries biggest franchises, comprising five console games, a mobile game, animated films, multiple soundtrack albums, novels and even comic books.
The latest addition to that last category is "Dead Space: Liberation," a graphic novel by writer Ian Edginton and artist Christopher Shy. Releasing this week from Titan Publishing, "Liberation" is set just prior to the events of new PlayStation 3 and X-Box 360 game "Dead Space 3."
Shy, who has contributed to the "Dead Space" universe previously with "Dead Space: Salvage," a 2010 OGN written by Antony Johnston, spoke with Comic Book Resources about his latest outing, going over what to expect in "Liberation," what it was like working with EA on the project, what he loves most about "Dead Space" (hint - it's not the monsters) and more.
CBR News: Christopher, what's going down in "Dead Space: Liberation?"
Christopher Shy: An ex-soldier, John Carver, is stationed at the outer edge of the frontier. He's having a lot of ordinary issues in his life -- his marriage is crumbling, he hasn't spent a lot of time with his son. Things should be better for this guy. Then, a giant starship falls out of the sky and levels half the city, breaking open a Marker. From there, his life gets a lot worse. He learns his wife's work involved a Marker discovery, a very profound one, and that information involves the original Marker signal.
How does "Liberation" tie-in to "Dead Space 3" and the other "Dead Space" games?
This is set right before, leading up to the events in "Dead Space 3." Carver meets two key characters in his quest to learn the truth about his wife's research: Ellie Langford and Robert Norton. This group will face a horrific set of trials leading up to "Dead Space 3."
How did you get brought on to this project?
Cate Latchford and Chuck Beaver at EA brought me onboard for this one. We worked together on my first "Dead Space" book, and they have always been very supportive of my vision when approaching the franchise. I am a very big "Dead Space" fan, and loved the blend of horror and science fiction. I also work very fast, which I think was a big plus on this book.
Do you consider the "Dead Space" series to lean more towards the horror or sci-fi genre? It seems to owe quite a bit to the stories of H.P. Lovecraft, as well.
We all owe H.P. Lovecraft. It depends on the game, or the graphic novels, and which one. The first game was incredibly horrific, isolated. Man against the unknown, Man against himself and what Isaac was capable of overcoming. The second game expanded the universe, expanded what was at stake concerning the Markers. Man against nature, Man against himself. Nothing is what it seems with this franchise, nothing can completely be known. The fact that you are being eaten by slavering Necromorphs in the meantime is also a big plus.
Did you play either of the first two "Dead Space" games? What were your impressions of them?
Yes, I played them both. I loved both, for different reasons. The first one was much more stripped down and claustrophobic. The second had more elements of the grand adventure.
How much creative freedom are you given on a project like this? Did EA mandate any plot points or characters be in the story?
Cate and Chuck have always given me a lot of creative freedom when approaching the books. They know my style, and how I approach my novels.
We had many discussions before the first "Dead Space" novel, how I saw it, what we needed in there, how to bring out this character, the mood, etc. I think with the first novel, I played a bit in my universe in terms of tone, bringing a more European flavor to the story, a bit of hard-edged punk in outer space. With this new one, I wanted to keep it much more grounded in the "Dead Space" universe, to try and marry my style and the games to try and blend the elements so leading into "Dead Space 3" the novel would blend more seamlessly. We knew from the very beginning we were going to be bringing Ellie into the novel in a major way, that we would see Ellie dealing with a lot of emotions concerning Isaac. Ian Edginton did a fantastic job writing this one. It felt like a true collaborative process.
Do you need to know a lot about the "Dead Space" universe to be able to enjoy "Liberation?"
I think you can enjoy it even if you're not a hardcore fan. But if you do know the mythos, then you're going to get a real kick out of the details I put in there, the art on the walls, etc.
What's your favorite part of the "Dead Space" mythos?
It will always be the characters. I love painting monsters, but without that descent into madness, it has no impact. Isaac's journey in the game is evolving into true mythos. Ellie is a favorite of mine. I loved Schneider's character in "Dead Space Salvage," his relationship to Jessica Li and the mystery surrounding his disappearance. The mystery of the original Marker and what that will mean if ever found. A lot of it, I guess.
Do you have plans for future "Dead Space" comics?
Always. We never learned what happened to Schneider when he disappeared in the experimental ship at the end of "Dead Space Salvage." I have some ideas concerning that, what Schneider might have seen out there and what his return might mean.
What other projects do you have coming up?
Well, I just finished "The North End of the World," a fantastic novel based on the life of Edward Curtis. My new one is called "I Sleep in Stone," a kind of American gothic fairy tale involving witchcraft. If Andrew Wyeth painted comics, this is what it would possibly look like. You can find out more about these over at blackwatchcomics.com or thenorthendoftheworld.com.
"Dead Space: Liberation," with art by Christopher Shy and written by Ian Edginton, is available February 5 from Titan Publishing.