NYCC: David Gaider Brings "Dragon Age" Back to Comics

Saturday at New York Comic Con, Dark Horse and BioWare announced that the "Dragon Age" universe would return to comics in February, in a series of six biweekly twelve-page issues available through Dark Horse's iOS app and online for $.99 each. The world of this fantasy role playing game for PC, Xbox 360, and Playstation 3 has previously been explored in web comics and in a miniseries from IDW Publishing. For Dark Horse's inaugural outing, David Gaider, BioWare's Lead Writer for both "Dragon Age: Origins" and "Dragon Age II," will head up the comic miniseries, joined by Alexander Freed writing the script and artist Chad Hardin. Comic Book Resources spoke with Gaider about the growing world of "Dragon Age," the value of expanding into several media, and what to expect from the miniseries.

"'Dragon Age' is a fantasy world with all the trappings you'd expect in fantasy -- magic, elves, dragons -- but done in a way you don't often see. It's dark, where it isn't always easy to tell good from evil, and sometimes bad things happen to those who deserve it least," Gaider said of the "Dragon Age" concept. "Elves have lost their way, dragons are recovering from the brink of extinction, magic is reviled and suppressed by the church. It's also character-driven, and thus concerned more about the human condition than it is about being epic."

In addition to the immensely popular video games, "Dragon Age" has already expanded into a series of web videos created by Felicia Day -- the first episode of "Dragon Age: Redemption" went online this week. CBR News asked Gaider about the thought behind conquering comics, as well. "'Dragon Age' is about the world of Thedas as much as it's about any particular game, so it's a good fit to expand into other media," Gaider said. "There are lots of stories that can be told, after all, so why limit it solely to video games? There are novels, a Facebook game and an upcoming anime movie as well -- comics are just a natural outgrowth of that. Not to mention that many of us at BioWare also grew up on comics. I know I did, so getting the chance to work with a company like Dark Horse is kind of a dream come true.

"As to how all of these pieces -- the game, videos, novels, anime, comics -- work together to complement each other," Gaider said, "the trick is to try and fit them together into a cohesive whole."

"There are lots of fantasy stories that can be told, but not every fantasy story is necessarily going to be a good fit for a 'Dragon Age' story. So whenever possible, we like to make sure that it's part of the overall narrative we're developing," Gaider continued. "If there's going to be a 'Dragon Age' tale told in another medium, there's no reason why it can't add to the overall wealth of lore rather than be something disconnected from it. There are lots of little side plots we never get a chance to develop properly in the games, or even whole areas of the world we just haven't gotten to yet, and sometimes it's a lot easier to go to those places without needing to expend the resources of an entire game to do it. It's quite exciting, and even more so to work with people outside BioWare who are enthusiastic about the world and the possibilities. Taken as a whole, everything that says 'Dragon Age' on it should be complimentary to each other, and to a fan it should be seamless moving from one to the next."

"The 'Dragon Age' miniseries follows Alistair of 'Dragon Age: Origins' and Isabela and Varric of 'Dragon Age II,' Gaider told CBR. "The three of them have traveled to Antiva, an exotic land of assassins, to chase a secret from Alistair's past that will draw all three of them into danger -- and also reveal a surprising truth about the nature of dragons in Thedas.

"It follows a few things that fans of 'Dragon Age' have probably been wondering about for some time, and a few plot threads that we haven't been able to pick up elsewhere," Gaider continued. "I'm writing it, and as the Lead Writer on both of the 'Dragon Age' games I can say pretty confidently that it fits seamlessly into the overall narrative. These are characters the fans love, and there's some lore here that they won't find anywhere else. It should be a treat."

Joining Gaider on the miniseries are Alexander Freed, who is scripting the book, and Chad Hardin on art. "Alex has written comics previously for Dark Horse, and he also works for BioWare, so it makes collaborating with each of us a lot easier. Not to mention that working on a comic book is a first for me -- having someone with Alex's experience is invaluable," Gaider said of the collaboration. "As for Chad, he also has experience working with Dark Horse -- our Art Director Matt Goldman picked him from among several candidates for having a style that matches ours and also works well with the kind of story we're telling."

Dark Horse's "Dragon Age" comics will be presented as 12-page digital exclusives through the publisher's iPad/iPhone app and online at digital.darkhorse.com. "I think the majority of Dragon Age fans are pretty tech-savvy -- I mean, they'd have to be, wouldn't they?" Gaider said of the format choice. "This is a good way to introduce them to the possibilities of 'Dragon Age' in comic form without them necessarily having to be comic book fans and needing to go to a store in order to check it out."

BioWare and Dark Horse have previously found success with their "Mass Effect" and "Star Wars: Old Republic" comics, and this was a factor in collaborating on a "Dragon Age" series. "BioWare is a game developer that prioritizes storytelling -- we're fans and gamers, but we do this because we love being able to create a story that takes on a life of its own. The guys at Dark Horse are the same way," Gaider said. "It's really obvious that they do this because they love it, and they approached the 'Dragon Age' project the same way I assume they did 'Mass Effect' -- with the enthusiasm of a fan, a lot of ideas in hand and the experience to make it work in comic format."

"Dragon Age" returns to comics as a Dark Horse Digital exclusive beginning February 22.

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