Ryan O'Sullivan In The Age Of Fire
Mar 03, 2018
In anticipation for the release of their latest Dark Souls tie-in comic, Age of Fire #1, Titan Comics speaks to writer Ryan O'Sullivan about his love of the game, his experience with gaming comics, and the creativity and collaboration behind this new series!
Dark Souls: Age of Fire #1 (MAR181914) is available to pre-order from the March PREVIEWS catalog.
Titan Comics: This is the first Dark Souls comic to directly tie into a specific game. Were you a fan of the game series before taking on the comics?
Ryan O'Sullivan: It's very exciting to be given the keys to the kingdom. Previous Dark Souls comics haven't had the chance to play with the toys. I'm glad we're getting them this time. When it comes to working on licensed comics, I think it's important to be a fan of whatever it is you're working on. It allows for greater nuance. You know what makes the IP tick, so you can really get into the nitty gritty of it. Also, you're a fan, so you know the sort of comic you'd want to read.
I'm a big gamer, and I've always really enjoyed the unique storytelling of the Souls games. I love how minimalist they are. So much of the story is told via item descriptions and location/creature aesthetic, rather than via traditional storytelling means. This makes Dark Souls feel like an old school arcade/platform game, despite having this huge rich world full of lore. It's a piece of art.
Titan Comics: In the comics we meet and interact with iconic characters from the games, how did you go about approaching these fan-favorite characters?
Ryan O'Sullivan: Carefully. This comic takes place during The Age of Fire. We see Gwyn and Artorias. We encounter Lordran and Anor Londo during their golden days. So much of the Dark Souls mythos is built around this period.
My way around this was to take a leaf out of Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross's Marvels. Rather than focus on what Gwyn or Artorias do on their day off, we focused on a cast of new characters that could cross paths with the legends, and the epic events, whilst telling their own stories we haven't heard before, during the Age of Fire. The Silver Knights are a particular focus. Because I love them.
Titan Comics: You have created brand new characters within the series. Was it difficult to introduce these characters into such a long-standing and loved mythos? How was the process different from creating characters for projects you've originated yourself?
Ryan O'Sullivan: The biggest difference is audience. With Dark Souls, the comic is written for a specific audience in mind. If you're a fan of Dark Souls, you have a specific taste. So the characters in the story, including new ones I've come up with, are going to be to that taste. More of the same, but cool" is the mantra for licensed comics. When it comes to my own projects, such as Void Trip or Turncoat, as the story isn't written for a specific audience, the characters can be whatever I want them to be. Which is freeing and terrifying in equal measure.
Titan Comics: As you have been involved with writing gaming based comics before, with The Evil Within and Warhammer 40,000, how do you go about researching for your plots and scripts beyond the games themselves?
Ryan O'Sullivan: I read up on the online culture around the games. If you can find out the meme culture around a videogame you can really understand it. YouTube too. Obviously you don't let the memes bleed into the comic, that would be absurd, but it does give you insight into what makes fans tick, what fans find appealing about the games, etc.
Dark Souls has some storytelling similarities to The Evil Within. They're both very Japanese in their storytelling. Both properties adore vagueness. Part of the appeal of these games is that they don't give the players all the answers, so you get these huge online communities of players creating all sorts of conspiracy theories. It makes for fascinating reading.
Titan Comics: You are joined on this project by Anton Kokarev, what makes him the best artist and collaborator for this story, and what is your process when working with artists?
Ryan O'Sullivan: It's a long process. Arton is great. His art looks like it's straight out of the games. I'm sure fans of this series are really going to dig it. As for my own process, I fully script, pass it over to the publisher, tweak it further if need be, and then tweak it one more time if the final art needs it. I usually keep in touch with artists as they're drawing the work, mainly to help clarify anything that isn't clear in the scripts, but also sometimes to truly collaborate and come up with different approaches.