How Greg Rucka Makes Magical Minutes In Magekiller

by Vince Brusio

He’s written about crime. He’s written about superheroes. There’s not a lot Greg Rucka hasn’t written about, which is why he’s in high demand when it comes to comics. But what he approached with deft fingers this time was Dragon Age: Magekiller #1 (OCT150009) for Dark Horse Comics.  While the writer had the blessing of Bioware to take things to the next level, Greg knew the sandbox he would be playing in was the size of a pocket galaxy. It was just as important to tell a good story, and focus on some new character’s spells and wardrobe as it was to take a tour of Tevinter.

Dragon Age: Magekiller #1 (OCT150009) is in comic shops December 16.

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PREVIEWSworld: How did the idea for the project come about for you?

Greg Rucka: I had been in some correspondence with the people at Bioware, and they had suggested me for the project, and that’s sort of how it rolled together.

Mike Laidlaw gave me a couple of possible starting points for the series that, I believe, some of them had been bounced around the writer’s pit, with David Gaider (Dragon Age writer) throwing into the pot, because he would still be the writer on the game at that point. We had a couple of discussions, and it sort of went from there. I mean, that’s pretty much it. It wasn't just a bolt from the blue, you know?

I’m a fan of Bioware’s games, in the main anyway, and Patrick and I had become friends over the last couple of years, because of his publishing, he’s a novelist as well as writing in the game, so there had been a connection there, and it sort of came together very organically.

PREVIEWSworld: Were there certain overtones from the game you wanted to blend into the comic, or did you pretty much have free reign to pursue your own vision?

Greg Rucka: Well, I mean, if you know anything about the franchise they’ve created, it’s a big chunk of a world, and they’ve done some remarkable building. If you’ve played the games you’ll be very much privy to it. So, the tonality is very much driven by that. Like, it wouldn’t have made much sense to go “Hey, let’s do a screwball comedy.”

The Dragon Age franchise has always been marked as sort of “dark fantasy,” in that there are some real deep questions and certainly some mature themes at work. We’re not going as deep a dive as the games do, and I don’t think we should, either. We don’t have a 420-hour play time on this thing, you know? We’re dealing with 22-page issues, so trying to tell a story that would use their mythology and augment it is really what this is for Magekiller.

The purpose of this work is to support the universe. I’m not looking to reinvent the wheel, nor should I be able to. I’m hired to — for lack of a better way to put it — provide value added content, you know?

Ideally, if you enjoy the games you will also enjoy the comic. The goal is also to be able to try things out and introduce ideas and concepts.

PREVIEWSworld: Were there any particular aspects of the game that helped lay the foundation for your story?

Greg Rucka: Yeah, there were locations that resonated, and certain things from the game. If you know the games, in issue one we go to Tevinter (which hasn’t really been seen in the game world). You know, for me, it’s such a broad tapestry, that there wasn’t any one thing I really wanted to use. It’s a big universe, and in the same way that in Star Wars we love the stories about Han, Luke, and Leia, the galaxy is big, and there are lots of stories to tell.

One of the beauties of the universe that Bioware has created is that there’s so much going on. They’ve done a really elegant job of making it clear that while your stories in the game are always crucial, they’re not the only stories going on. So, being able to run into that fact headlong, Magekiller ties into the most recent game in a sort of very direct but non-invasive way. It moves chess pieces around and figures out how the parts are going to match. We’ve got new characters, and we touch on what they’re wearing, what they can do, certain spells, and so on.

PREVIEWSworld: Writing crime versus writing dark fantasy. What’s it like to flip flop between those flavors? What’s it like to put on a different hat?

Greg Rucka: Well, I don’t write primarily crime, so, it’s less of a stretch for me than I think it would be for others. But, in that, I suppose it’s a question of setting a character. There are two new characters in Magekiller that people have never encountered before, and they were developed with input from Bioware, from Patrick, and from Mike.

You know, I’ve tried several times in the past few years to do a fantasy story, but fantasy is a setting. Fantasy isn’t a story in and of itself. So, within the story I'm telling (within the setting) one could argue that this is yet another Rucka crime story I guess.

It isn’t a mystery, but the main characters are assassins that specialize in neutralizing a certain kind of problem, as is evidenced by the title of the series.  So, I suppose with that you could draw a crime/espionage extrapolation.

PREVIEWSworld: If you had to stand up in front of a crowd at a convention and offer a thirty second sound bite, what would you say that would best summarize this title?

GR: Well they wouldn’t give me thirty seconds, they’d give me five. But I think that Magekiller is for fans of the franchise, and the goal is to have a fun story that adds more threads to the tapestry that Bioware has written. And for fans of comics…hey, it’s a fun damn comic! It’s cool, and you can read it without any prior knowledge. We’ve got some great characters, and we’ve got some fun stuff, and the goal all along has been to write a book that would be entertaining and enjoyable.

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