Back in 2000, game designer American McGee offered up his twisted take on a literary classic with "American McGee's Alice." The game was well received by critics and fans, particularly for the dark and distorted version of Wonderland in which it was set.
In 2008, McGee and developer Spicy Horse took another genre of literary classic and put a unique spin on it with the release of "American McGee's Grimm." This episodic game took aim at many well known fairy tales that had become watered down and given happy endings, making them more acceptable as children's stories. In the game, players take control of Grimm, a dwarf who decides to take those happy tales and give them a much darker theme. Grimm travels through different stories, spreading darkness everywhere, which in turn changes the game world and everyone in it into twisted versions of their former selves.
This April will see the character of Grimm make the jump from video games to comic books, as IDW Publishing will be releasing an "American McGee's Grimm" miniseries written by Dwight MacPherson and illustrated by Grant Bond. CBR News caught up with the creative team to talk about bringing Grimm to comics and the plans they have for him in the series.
CBR: What is the basic concept behind the "American McGee's Grimm" miniseries, and how does it connect to the Grimm game?
Dwight MacPherson: The concept of the comic is quite simple, and I believe it connects flawlessly to the videogame. After moving through the videogame "episodes," transforming the politically correct world of sugary-sweet fairy tales into their original form-dark Brothers Grimm fairy tales-Grimm turns his attention to comic books. Attacking the logical fallacies of each genre, Grimm moves through the comic book world, destroying stereotypes and overturning the status quo, leaving behind a world that he believes is more true to life.
From the look of the preview pages, you've done a great job of capturing the look of the game for the comic book. How much access did you have to the game's assets and creative team while drawing the book?
Grant Bond: Thank you for the kind words on the art. I was given some great reference material on Grimm and his worlds that I've used almost at every turn. Having a healthy knowledge of the game itself has been valuable, too. Being able to justify playing a game as research has been a milestone for me.
You're throwing Grimm into various comic book genres (superhero, western, etc.). What are some of the comic book cliches in the different genres that you wanted to let Grimm tear into?
DM: Well, without giving too much away, the prevailing cliche in superhero comics is that the heroes always win. Sure, there may be some remote sense that our heroes are in trouble, but we never believe they could actually lose. Superman always defeats Lex Luthor; Batman always defeats the Joker, ad nauseam. So when Grimm enters the comic book world, he is intent on upsetting the "heroes always win" cliche.
One thing I really enjoy about the book is that you also get a sense that the cliche from the videogame-that Grimm will always succeed-is challenged as well. In several issues, you get a real sense that Grimm could fail. He's out of his element, so he's susceptible to the varied threats that each world brings with it.
With Grimm visiting worlds that will be familiar to a lot of comics fans, did you pay homage to certain artists in the different genres, or did you create a new look for each world?
GB: I've made a very humble attempt to do so. This series bounces back and forth between about six styles of art. Being able to perfectly capture these styles would probably take a lifetime to master. There are several artists I've worked at capturing. It's a tall order to fill for one artist, but I feel like I've been able to convey a feel of those styles to help push the story forward.
Of the worlds Grimm gets to visit, which one did you have most fun drawing and why?
GB: I think my favorite is going to be the Western comic. I grew up reading those comics and getting a chance to finally draw a zombie or two has been creatively rewarding.
In a lot of ways, Grimm's look is in stark contrast to the comic worlds he'll be visiting. Is it a challenge to balance the different styles and still keep the flow of the story?
GB: It's been challenging to try to make them work together. Once Grimm has turned the comic book world into his own, I've tried to find a middle ground with the art style. I think that is the closest I've come to my actual style of art in this series.
This title has the potential to attract gamers who don't normally read comics. Did that change your approach during the creative process?
DM: Absolutely. I had played through the first season of the videogame, so I had a good sense of the source material. As I approached the story, I wanted to be sure to include several nods to the gaming community. For example, every now and then, readers will see a "Butt-Stomp Here" sign suspended in the air above an intended target. I did that as an in-joke for gamers. There are other little flares that gamers will notice, but it is not super important that you find all the Easter Eggs to enjoy the book. As a gamer, however, I thought I would give the gaming community a virtual high-five. Of the videogame adaptations I've read thus far, I don't think anyone's done anything quite like this before.
How has bringing Grimm to the comic allowed you to expand on the character people may know from the game?
DM: The comic has really allowed me to flesh out Grimm's deeper motivations for doing what he does. Sure, he's angry the spirit of the Grimm Brothers' fairy tales has been debased to present a more PC wholesomeness, but that is merely superficial. During the course of the comic book, readers will discover the underlying reasons why he is who he is and what his true motivations are. In the videogame, we get a sense that he is simply a malicious troll who resents the "updating" of these timeless tales. In the comic book, we get to take a closer look at what makes him tick.
If you had the chance to tell more stories with this character, what other genres would you like to let Grimm loose on?
DM: My 11-year-old would love to see Grimm tackle the Nickelodeon television lineup. I mean-Grimm destroying Dora's and The WonderPets' worlds would be a hoot! Who wouldn't like to see that? Imagine what he'd do to poor ol' SpongeBob!
As far as comic book genres, I'd love to see Grimm set loose in the horror and crime genres. We get a small taste of Grimm in the horror genre, but I think it would be hilarious to see Grimm in a "Tales From the Crypt" or "House of Mystery" type world.
"American McGee's Grimm" #1 is scheduled to be released this week. For more information about the book, head over to www.idwpublishing.com. You can find out more about the video game, as well as play through an episode for free, at www.gametap.com.