CCI: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

"Prince of Persia" has already been a huge hit as a video game; in May 2010, it'll surely make waves as a live-action movie starring Jake Gyllenhaal. But one month before the movie hits theaters, fans will see the Prince of Persia as a comic book in "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time" from Disney Press.

The comic book, like the movie, isn't holding back in bringing the A-list talent. With a story by PoP's creator Jordan Mechner, a cover by Todd McFarlane and additional art by Bernard Chang ("Wonder Woman"), Tommy Lee Edwards ("Daredevil"), and Cameron Stewart ("Seaguy"), the book is looking to impress. Stewart, McFarlane, Chang and Mechner were on hand at Comic-Con International to present their work on the book, and CBR News was there.

"What's so exciting about the graphic novel in general is that while the there are 1,000 people involved in the movie and the games, in the graphic novel, I write it, these guys draw it. There's a lightness that brings out the inventiveness," Mechner said

The graphic novel, written in an anthology format, will go on sale both as a hardcover and a softcover in April 2010. The book will be 128 pages and cost $9.99 in softcover form.

Mechner explained that in the story, five different characters are being pulled in front of a judge to defend themselves of a crime. All the characters are unreliable, but by the end of the story, the reader has a good idea of what happened, and how it involved the Prince of Persia.

"For me the fun of revisiting PoP again was writing a new story after the movie, and to set up the world of the movie. The universe is distinct from the games," Mechner said. "The PoP mythology has taken a lot of turns. A lot are mutually contradictory. Not all of them can be true. The newest game is a different character entirely. We wanted to create something that is hopefully going to stick around for many years afterwards, and hopefully be read after the movie and enjoyed."

"The Prince has never had a name. For the movie, one of the things we did was we made a specific person, a back-story, a living flesh and blood person," Mechner continued. "At the same time he represents this iconic hero. In the movie, we're right there with him, very grounded in reality. In the comic, we're trying to figure out who the prince is. Of the five storytellers -- am I giving too much away? - the prince isn't one of them. But some of the characters have met him, or claim to have met him."

Artist Cameron Stewart said that getting into the proper frame of mind for the PoP comic book was easy, he just went back to play the games again. Stewart was a huge fan of "Prince of Persia" as a kid, and told the story of how he first got the game. "When I was a kid, the first game came out, and I really, really wanted it. I saw ads for it and begged my mom for my birthday to get me this game," he said. "It was a month before my birthday and I had this suspicion [that she got it]. While she was out, I couldn't help myself. I ransacked her room and found it. It was shrink-wrapped. I took a razor blade and sliced it open, slid the game out. I played it for a couple weeks. Every time my mom came home I'd dive at the TV to turn it off. Before my birthday, I put it back and super-glued the top shut. It's the day off my birthday, I open it up -- I ruined my own birthday."

Stewart said that he was assured from the beginning by editor Nachie Castro that this book wouldn't be a typical movie tie-in. "I asked Nachie, 'Is this going to be micro-managed? Does every drawing have to look like Jake Gyllenhaal?' He said no. One of things interesting is there are all these different artists with different interpretations. I think that's cool, it's going to make it very different than a typical movie tie-in."

A fun fact about the comic book revealed midway through the panel was that this project would also be released as a motion comic. A clip was shown, using McFarlane's cover.

"There will be a more formal announcement later this year," Castro said. "But it's going to really bring this to life."

McFarlane said that everything he's seen from the movie so far leads him to believe "Prince of Persia" will be a blockbuster. "The movie is being produced by [Jerry] Bruckheimer. He's moved from the 'Pirates' movies, he's looking for something he can do multiple movies with. This is a big time movie, big time budget, big time effects," McFarlane said. "Jake Gyllenhaal, for all you people who saw '300?' He is in fantastic shape for this movie, for all the crazy stuff he has to perform in this movie. There's super-heroics going on. My wife always liked him. She saw him [now,] he went from handsome to stud. I believe the divorce papers are being filed."

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