One of the most popular and chaotically funny video game sensations of the last decade makes its returns to comics this July courtesy of IDW Publishing with “Borderlands: The Fall of Fyrestone” #1 (of 4) by writer Mikey Neumann and artist Agustin Padilla. Based on the hit games from developer Gearbox Software, “The Fall of Fyrestone” picks up immediately following the events of IDW’s previous “Borderlands” series “Origins,” and sees the Vault Hunters going up against ruthless villain Nine Toes.
Neumann, who also serves as Gearbox’s Chief Creative Champion, spoke with CBR News about his return trip to Pandora, revealing what happens when the Vault Hunters step off Marcus’ bus, his response to “Borderlands” cosplayers — and teases “Borderlands 3.”
CBR News: Mike, for new readers, what happened in “Origins,” the first “Borderlands” miniseries from IDW?
Mikey Neumann: “Origins” was a little over a year ago. When IDW hit us up originally we had been talking about doing a comic. We thought the best thing to do was one-shots, one for each of the main characters — Roland, Mordecai, Lilith and Brick. So they each got their own one-shot and each story was a different genre. I had always wanted to keep going and we’re going to, which is super-exciting for me.
Was it always the plan to bring these characters into comics?
I don’t know if we specifically knew we were going to bring them into comics. But after the reception of “Borderlands” we knew these characters had places in other mediums. People really reacted to the world of “Borderlands,” so comics really fit in nicely with what we were doing with the different Vault Hunters.
You also serve as a creative director for “Borderlands” developer Gearbox.
Just on certain projects. Technically my title is ‘Chief Creative Champion.’ I like to champion ideas. I do a lot of our trailers, I write a lot of our games, I do a lot of stuff. It’s a fun title that encompasses all that.
How did you become their chief comics writer as well?
I helped shape the world of “Borderlands” and wrote a lot of the game so it was a natural fit. Plus, I love comics!
What’s the newest miniseries, “Borderlands: The Fall of Fyrestone,” all about?
It takes place right after “Borderlands: Origins.” “Origins” was four one-shots. Basically the story of how each of the Vault Hunters got onto the bus. This is the story of what happens when the bus stops and what kind of problems they can expect.
Can you tell us more about series villain Nine-Toes?
That’s why it’s called “The Fall of Fyrestone.” Fyrestone was well-off for a while. It’s where Vault Hunters would come and get together until Nine-Toes and his band of minions took over the town and made it dangerous for Vault Hunters to arrive. They’re dealing with how to get this guy’s grasp out from around Fyrestone and get the town back to normal.
Who is your favorite character in the “Borderlands” universe? Which one do you most relate to?
I relate most to Scooter because I write and voice that character. But man there’s a lot. That was part of the fun of this series, mixing them all together. We’ve got the Vault Hunters but then we’ve also got T.K. Baha and Claptrap. I think Claptrap’s a lot of people’s favorite.
If I could chose a favorite in the “Borderlands” universe it would be Tannis but we’re not gonna see her in these four issues. I was always a fan of Mordecai when I was playing, too.
Which characters specifically have you created for the “Borderlands” franchise?
That’s the thing about writing a game. There’s not generally a writer, per se. It’s a collaborative effort coming up with what these characters need to be in the game and then I breathe life into them. I think Tannis was the one I shaped the most because she was very pragmatic and on the genius/scientist spectrum. Her story was what happens when that person is driven crazy. So she knows she’s crazy but she’s still just loony. I can’t wait to get her into the comics, as well.
So does that mean there’ll be more comics?
I don’t know. If it’s a success I sure hope we’ll do more. I know IDW is really pumped about this round because it’s the first one that really feels like an ongoing series.
What else is next for the “Borderlands” property?
Later this year you’ll be able to pick up “Borderlands the Pre-Sequel,” which takes place after “Borderlands” but before “Borderlands 2.” That’s the next game you’ll be able to get your hands on. We’ve also done books in the “Borderlands” universe. I could see it being a TV show really easily. I would like to see that.
What are the differences between comic and video game writing?
One of the core tenants of writing for a video game is to allow a space for interactive elements; for people to experience the world. In that way, you sort of write a world around the player, where as in a comic you go into the heads of the characters. It’s very freeing [in comics] because you can write how they fight, how they work together, how they use their powers to accomplish their goal. It’s much more structured like a traditional narrative.
What’s it like working with artist Agustin Padilla?
Working with him is great. I don’t communicate that much because there’s a language barrier, so we tend to communicate through people. What’s great is that his style fits with the “Borderlands” style really well, so he’s free to go crazy. He gets to take things like the Bandits much farther visually than we take them in the game.
Can you share any info about rumored video game “Borderlands 3?”
No I cannot. Good try!
It’s obviously happening though. It can’t not happen, right?
I have no feelings or opinions on that, but you are free to speculate on your own…
How important is humor to “Borderlands?”
The rule as we were creating the “Borderlands” universe was badass first, and funny second. That very much carries forward to the comics. There’s definitely humor in how these characters interact since in the game you can’t do as much scripted humor. I’m trying to get as much out of it as possible. I think it will make you laugh.
What’s your take on the almost instantaneous popularity of “Borderlands” cosplay?
That’s actually something we’ve been doing on the “Pre-Sequel” leading up to the release of the game. We’ve been releasing cosplay guides. People can download stuff from us to make their cosplay as accurate as possible. It never ceases to amaze me what people can come up with. Anywhere you go, to any convention, you’ll see at least one and it always puts a smile on my face.
What’s the best costume you’ve seen?
There was a Zer0 at Gearbox Community Day who had something in his hand where he could push a button to change an LED display on his face, just like Zer0 in the game. And, I think it was the same guy, there was a built Claptrap just driving around.
Switching gears a bit, how’s your podcast “Chainsawsuit” going?
I do a comedy podcast called “Chainsawsuit” with Kris Straub. We just finished our fifth episode. We talk about funny stuff involving branding in America and we do fake commercials. We always do at least one fake commercial an episode. We do quizzes too. There was one week where Chris had a prepared a quiz for me where he mixed up fake and real menu items from Guy Fieri’s new restaurant and I had to tell which were real and which were fake.
What were some of the best menu examples?
Oh god, not off the top of my head. I kind of blocked it from memory. It was funny because the week after, just on a whim, I went through the U.S. trademark database to see how many trademark’s Fieri had under all these different corporation names. I found a lot of interesting things. Like he owns a trademark on ‘Kulinary Krew.’ Both spelled with K’s. It’s odd what companies will trademark. He attempted to get a trademark on, I kid you not, ‘Full Flavored Food.’ They tried to trademark that phrase. What does that even mean?
“Borderlands: The Fall of Fyrestone” begins in July from IDW Publishing.