From PlayStation to the silver screen, globetrotter Lara Croft has traveled across all kinds of media platforms. In 2013, the “Tomb Raider” franchise received a major reboot with a new video game starring a younger and inexperienced Lara and was met with both critical and commercial success. Writer Rhianna Pratchett created the story for the 2013 game, and now she’s bringing that same brand of adventure and excitement to Dark Horse Comics’ ongoing “Tomb Raider” comic book.
Developed by Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix, the latest “Tomb Raider” game not only focused on a younger Lara Croft, it also gave her a brand new and drastically different backstory. Dark Horse’s series began in February 2014 with an initial arc by fan-favorite comic book writer Gail Simone that picked up where the game left off. Simone and Pratchett joined forces for the second arc, but with this week’s issue #13, Pratchett is now handling the series on her own with art from Derlis Santacruz and Andy Owens.
CBR News spoke with Pratchett about becoming the solo writer for the “Tomb Raider” comic, and the video game turned comic book writer discussed the similarities and differences between the two formats, what we can expect from Lara Croft as her story continues — including diving deeper into the character’s developed but as yet unseen backstory — and a preview of the new arc’s first chapter!
CBR News: Since “Tomb Raider” began a year ago, readers have seen Lara deal with the aftermath of what occurred on Yamatai Island in the the 2013 video game. Solicitations for your first issue as sole writer have teased a new adventure and the return of an old friend, but what can readers expect in terms from Lara Croft, the Tomb Raider?
Rhianna Pratchett: There’s lots of classic “Tomb Raider”-style adventuring in this arc (jungles, ruins, dangerous wildlife, etc.), which was a lot of fun to write. I’ve also folded in little bits of inspiration from my own travels, particularly scuba diving and exploring parts of Mexico. On top of that, I’ve tried to utilize a lot of the backstory work I did on characters for the first game, which players never got to see. It’s been great to get this opportunity to expand on the world I helped create.
For better or for worse, Lara Croft is somewhat of a figurehead for female video game characters. Has writing Lara for comics proven different than writing her for video games?
No, not really. But that’s probably because I’ve worked on both the games and the comics, so I have a fairly clear idea of how the IP holders see Lara and the tone of the world. I’ve also been part of building that, so it’s much easier to translate it into comics. Prior to working on this “Tomb Raider” comic, I’d also written six “Mirror’s Edge” comics for DC and two miniseries for Dark Horse (“Tomb Raider: The Beginning” and “Thief: Tales from the City”), so I was quite experienced at translating game worlds and characters into comics.
Since you’ve spent more time in the former, what have you found to be the major differences between writing video games and writing comics?
You’re still dealing with stories, so there will always be some crossover. But when you’re writing a comic, you have more control over the creative vision than you often do as a freelance writer in games. In comics you’re sharing your vision with the other artists (and IP owners), but on games the creative vision holders will be more numerous, and often aren’t the ones responsible for crafting the narrative. Of course, if the hard-power holders are also writers — I’m thinking of folks like Ken Levine, Neil Druckmann, and Amy Hennig — then it’s easier (although not easy) to spearhead something more akin to a single creative vision. This is still pretty rare though.
With games, you have to spend a long time fighting your corner to make sure the needs of narrative are met and mesh well with the needs of gameplay, level design, art, etc. It can be pretty exhausting. Although you can help create wonderful narrative journeys for players in games, you’ll often find that you have to hold back a lot, narratively speaking. The comics have been a great way of letting loose with the all of the ideas that I’ve been musing on over the last 5+ years without having to worry about gameplay. It’s the narrative equivalent of running around, waving your arms, and going, “Aaaaaahhhhhhhh,” like a joyful toddler.
You’ve spoken about your interest in video games developing at a very young age. When did you start reading comics?
Like my love for playing video games, I picked up comics from my dad. Being an only child, I looked toward him for entertainment and he, in turn, looked for things to entertain me with. I remember reading “2000 AD” and “Watchmen” at a young age and loving, but not especially understanding, them. My comic knowledge is certainly not as in-depth as my game knowledge, but I’ve really enjoyed series like “Fables,” “Sandman,” “Hellblazer,” “Saga” and “The Walking Dead.”
For the past six issues, you’ve been co-writing with Gail Simone. What has that experience been like working with her?
It was an honor to work with someone as talented and experienced as Gail, and it’s been great fun coming up with ideas together. I was stoked with what we produced for the second arc. It was a fever-dream come true to have Lara Croft running around as Elizabeth Bennet. Action bonnets! Now, it’s exciting and terrifying to be out there on my own again. I just hope that readers enjoy my approach.
What has it been like working with the rest of the team: penciller Derlis Santacruz, inker Andy Owens, and colorist Michael Atiyeh?
I’m so grateful for everything that they bring to the issues and how dedicated they are to the project. They’ve all done wonderful work. As have Dave Marshall, Roxy Polk, and Aaron Walker behind the scenes over at Dark Horse. They love “Tomb Raider” as much as anyone and help keep my aforementioned fever-dreams in check!
“Tomb Raider” #13 goes on sale February 25 from Dark Horse Comics.
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