“Warhammer 40,000” has been around for almost twenty years and recently the table-top game crossed over into computer games, novels and – for a time – comic books. This year, Boom! Studios is bringing “Warhammer 40,000” back to comic books and given the vastness of the Warhammer universe, it’s no surprise the comic, “Damnation Crusage,” is too much for just one writer, so there are two: Dan Abnett and Ian Edginton.
Edginton is a busy writer – he’s got “Scarlet Traces” and “Hellgate: London” at Dark Horse, too – but he found time to talk about “Damnation Crusade,” “Warhammer 40,000,” working with other writers and marriage’s effect on his spare time.
While “Warhammer 40,000: Damnation Crusade” is a collaborative work (writing-wise in addition to the artist) with you and Dan Abnett, you also do a lot of solo comics writing. What’s that collaboration like? Does it change your process significantly? Which do you prefer?
Funnily enough, Dan and I have co-written together on a number of occasions. We worked together on Marvel’s Star Trek line, writing “Star Trek: Early Voyages” and “Star Trek: Unlimited.” We also wrote the Malibu/Marvel “Phoenix Resurrection” crossover and “Planet of the Apes” for Dark Horse.
Our working pattern usually consists of the pair of us, sitting down and thrashing out the series outline, before breaking it down into arcs and issues. We’ll then write them in a sort of relay, Dan will do one, then I’ll do the next and so on.
By its nature, writing is a solitary profession, so it’s a pleasant change to work with someone else. I particularly enjoy throwing ideas around with Dan – he has an infectious enthusiasm.
You’re starting out on the second issue of “Warhammer 40,000: Damnation Crusade.” Did you have any trouble getting into the spirit of things?
Not at all. Dan sent me his outline and first script, then I jumped straight on from there. As a precursor, I did read a couple of the more recent 40K novels just to put me in the mind-set as well as the Codex’s for the various group’s we’d be using in the series.
“Warhammer 40,000” has a lot of existing history to it. Abnett’s well-versed in it, writing the novels, but you’re relatively new to it? Is all that pre-existing information – which you dealt with to some degree in “Scarlet Traces,” with the fictionalizing of real British political culture – daunting or thrilling?
A bit of both. It is a little like cramming for a University degree in a weekend, but I haven’t come to it cold. I wrote a “Warhammer 40,000” series some years ago when Games Workshop were publishing the comics themselves. Unfortunately the line was put on hiatus before my series could run, but it was a solid learning experience. “Warhammer 40,000” is a world unto itself, but once you take onboard the parameters you have to work within, it’s not as restrictive as it seems. It’s no more difficult than writing a period history story. It’s all a matter of degrees, some things are absolutes and cannot be played around with, others have a certain amount of lee-way and then there are aspects where you can just go-to-town. It’s all a matter of working within in the system. I’ve worked on a variety of licensed titles over the years, Star Trek, Star Wars, Alien, Predator etc, so I’m used to that sort of arrangement.
Have you ever played the table-top wargame version of “Warhammer 40,000?” How did you familiarize yourself the setting?
I came at it via the novels. Being friends with Dan, I picked up his first few books starting with “Gaunt’s Ghosts: First and Only,” and have to say I became hooked straight off. Now I’d read them even if I didn’t know him! I haven’t sat in and played the game yet, but I have been an interested by-stander on a number of occasions. I’m concerned that if I did get totally immersed, my wife wouldn’t see me for days!
“Warhammer 40,000: Damnation Crusade” is a space action comic, right? That genre’s a particular one. Is it a genre you like?
Absolutely. I think there’s a huge gap in the market for great science fiction, space action comics. To anyone who has a passing knowledge of the medium, you say comics and they instantly think of superheroes, but back in the ’50s and ’60s, the field encapsulated everything from romance to cowboys, superheroes, horror and science fiction. We’ve recently seen a resurgence in horror themed titles such as “The Walking Dead” and “30 Days of Night” and I believe science fiction is now due it’s time in the spotlight!
I asked Dan Abnett this question and so you get it too (slightly rephrased). Space comics are back, both your “Scarlet Traces,” various comics at Marvel and DC, and now with “Warhammer 40,000” at Boom!. Serious, goofy, historical, the genre has made a surprising comeback in the last couple years. Where do you see “Warhammer 40,000: Damnation Crusade’s” place in the genre?
I think it’s unique in that it has a foot in both camps. The aim is for it to appeal to both gamer and comic readers and encourage a certain amount of crossover. If you’ve never played the game, it doesn’t matter, it still reads as a cracking, high adventure science fiction story. If you’re a gamer, but not really into comics, it’s a great introduction. You won’t get bored, we’ve put everything in there, Tau, Necrons, Eldar, Dreadnoughts, the works.
In a broader sense, I hope it will expand people’s horizons, encourage them to put down the spandex and try a spacesuit instead or better yet Space Marine power armour!