Writer Ian Edginton continues his streak of video game adaptations this month with “The Evil Within” #1 from Titan Comics. Featuring art by Alex Sanchez, the four-issue series adapts Bethesda Softwork’s blockbuster survival horror game that drops you into a twisted, monster-filled alternate reality. Edginton, best known to “2000 AD” readers as the creator of “Stickleback” and “Brass Sun,” is no stranger to the world of games-to-comics adaptations, having previously translated the worlds of “Kane & Lynch” and “Deadspace” to the comics page.
In speaking with CBR News, Edginton explained that rather than simply moving the game to comics, his adaptation features an entirely new storyline; while based in the world of “Evil Within,” aside from a few familiarly evil faces, it can be enjoyed as wholly separate from the source material. We also discuss the process involved in adapting games to the medium of comics, which beloved sci-fi space opera would be his dream adaptation project and more.
CBR News: Ian, what’s your adaptation of “Evil Within” about?
Ian Edginton: Obviously I don’t want to give too much away, so this is going to be a broad strokes kind of thing. The miniseries centers on 20-something Dana Robinson. She’s had a rough time recently; her best friend Kate Mellor disappeared right in front of her, lost in a crowd. One minute she was there, the next she was gone, vanished without a trace. Several months on, and Dana’s not stopped looking for her. She’s dropped out of university and is on the brink of mental and physical exhaustion when she finds herself on strange road at night, way out in the middle of nowhere.
She crosses paths with Paul Carey, an ER doctor. He’d heard of Kate’s disappearance on the news, but says it was years ago and her mutilated body was eventually found. Paul himself is puzzled, as the last thing he remembers is catching a brief nap break at work before waking up in a booth in a nearby roadside diner.
This conundrum is the least of their worries though, as they quickly realize the world they’re in is not their own but a twisted reflection, populated by equally warped and gross inhabitants. It’s not just these beasts that are after them, but the actual environment itself that is demented and predatory. They meet several others along the way, who also find themselves trapped in this surreal world with no explanation as to how they got there. Despite this, Dana deduces that there’s a puzzle at the heart of it all, and if she can somehow solve it, then maybe they can escape. Or, maybe it’s all just a sick game.
So, how will Dana’s adventure link up to the video game?
There’s no direct tie-in. It’s a stand-alone thing, but it will have a very similar, mood, tone and atmosphere to the game. The series does get to use some of the main enemies from the game though, so we have the zombie-like Haunted, Boxman, RE-bone Laura, the Butcher and Ruvik.
So this series will be linked to the game through the enemies faced. Did you get to play the game at all to prepare for writing the comic?
Yeah, I got to go down to the Bethesda office in London and play some work-in-progress levels. I don’t get to play games as much as I’d like to, so my skills were pretty rusty, but I soon got into it and the time flew by. I got there mid-morning and the next thing I knew, it was late afternoon and everyone was going home. They could have forgotten about me and I’d still be there!
What other sorts of research did you do for this book?
Apart from playing the game, Bethesda sent me a lot of reference material to use as a springboard for the series. They wanted to keep the look and feel of the game but have something that was its own creature, so-to-speak. They sort of went, “Here’s a big box of toys, now go play. Make up your own stuff.”
“Evil Within” isn’t your first foray into video games adaptations, having also adapted “Dead Space” and “Kane & Lynch” for comics. What draws you to adaptations like these?
I get asked. It’s a simple as that. I’ve worked on a lot of licensed properties over the years, film and TV related stuff as well as game adaptations, so the ground rules of what it takes to work on such things is pretty much ingrained in me by now. The main thing is, you can’t be precious about the work. You want to do a good job, but you’re playing with someone else’s toys. They’re the client, and they’re the ones who call the shots at the end of the day, so you have to stay flexible.
What’s your process when developing a comic book to support a video game franchise that isn’t directly plot linked, like “Evil Within?”
It’s tapping into what makes that game popular, then taking it and running with it. More often than not, the game developers want something that feels close to the mood of the game but works on its own merits. The comic series is like a taster for the game. Sometimes they will have a definite direction that they want you to go in, and other times you get pretty much a free rein, so long as you hit certain plot points along the way. I remember on “Kane and Lynch,” after we’d discussed roughly what they wanted, I said, “So basically it’s four issues of swearing, shooting and blowing shit up?” They went, “Yep!” Can’t argue with that!
What’s your dream property to adapt to the comic page?
That’s easy. Frank Herbert’s “Dune.” A full, proper, all-out adaptation of the first book. In order to do it properly, it would need to run to 24 issues, at least. The kind of thing “Heavy Metal” used to do back in the day, only more so.
“Evil Within” #1 is available now from Titan Comics. “Evil Within” #2 hits stores November 5, 2014.
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