Thursday Feb 11, 2010
At our PR event last week, I had a chance to sit down with Matt Fraction, who writes The Invincible Iron Man comics and co-wrote the story for the upcoming Iron Man 2 game. I gathered up questions from Twitter, Facebook, and right here on the blog, added some of my own, and put them to Matt. We asked, he answered!
Q: Ins0mnia from Twitter asks: What connection is there for you from comics to games? How did you get involved in writing the story for Iron Man 2?
Matt: I play games when I should be writing comics. Comics are my job, and writing Iron Man is part of that job. I had some involvement in consulting on the Iron Man sequel, and I think when SEGA was getting the story going with the Iron Man 2 game, they talked to Marvel and Marvel suggested having me be part of the writing team on it. The writing of the Iron Man comics is what got me to the movie stuff, and I suspect that’s what got me to the game stuff too.
Q: jibajaw from Twitter asks: What was the first home arcade game you ever played? What was the last game you’ve played?
Matt: The first would have been Combat on the 2600. The last game I played would have been before I came to New York and was either Bayonetta or Darksiders, I can’t remember which.
Q: What did you think of Bayonetta?
Matt: I think it’s effing crazy! I love it. It’s like somebody took God of War and decided to make it not make any sense. I love it. It’s so very foreign and so very alien. It’s ridiculous and bezerk and entertaining. And I have a short attention span, so that works out well for me.
Q: Are there any classic SEGA games that you’re really fond of?
Matt: I played lots of SEGA games over the years! I have fond memories of Sonic. In fact, the songs still get stuck in my head from time to time. SEGA is a long and storied brand.
Q: What can you do differently in games that you can’t do in comics? Now that you’ve done both, which do you prefer?
Matt: They are both different. They each have their strengths, and I like doing both very much. I would really like to continue doing both. In games, you can move the camera and do a lot with audio. There are a lot more cinematic grammar in game writing than there is in comics. You take some stuff away from the viewer or reader, but you give them back a lot of stuff, too. Just being able to spin a camera through a room was a big thing. There’s a lot of stuff you can do with cinematics that comics don’t allow for – motion and sound are the most basic, but that opens up an entire new realm of storytelling tools.
Q: slimsammy from Twitter asks: Was your transition from the different universes of iron man difficult? Seeing as the ComicBook version of him has more depth.
Matt: It wasn’t, probably because I had practice with the movie stuff. I was looking to create a parallel experience. My primary concern was character issues, keeping Tony Tony and Pepper Pepper. I have a pretty limber imagination when it comes to comic continuity and parallel worlds. It was pretty easy, all things considered. I just kept my eye on the ball and hoped for the best.
Q: DJ Fob Fresh from the SEGA blog asks: Is the story strictly from the upcoming movie or will we see any other comic book story arcs in the video game?
Matt: It’s a parallel experience to the comic and the movie. There’s stuff from both, but there’s a lot of stuff in the game that hasn’t been in the comic or the movie. It’s not “play the film”… it’s a different world. But it is a parallel narrative. You’ll be on familiar ground even if the chronology is different. But it’s not an alienating thing if you’re a fan of the books or the films. It’s pretty easy to get right into it.
Q: TDSpidey616 from Twitter asks: Is the Iron Man Annual drawn by David Aja still in the works as well as using the Mandarin?
Matt: It is still in the works, but it will not be David Aja, to my great regret. Life gets in the way of schedules, and David and I will have to rendezvous on something else later. I don’t know that they’ve announced the artist yet or if I’m allowed to. It’s going to be two parts actually, so it’s not just an annual. It will be a two-part thing. And yes, it’s about the Mandarin.
Q: DJ Fob Fresh from the SEGA blog asks: Any notable hero/ villian cameos? Are there going to be any post-Civil War, Death of Captian America missions in there?
Matt: Yes, there are cameos. No death of Captain America stuff.
Q: Miles DX from the SEGA blog asks: My name is Jeremy, I’m currently attending SCAD (Savannah School of Art and Design) in hopes of becoming a comic book penicler. In a comic script, does every panel have to start with a description of the type of scene, for example, wide shot, close up, establishing shot? Or as long as you describe the scene you can leave it up the the penciler to decide what type of shot the draw the panel as?
Matt: It’s a learning curve. I always try to write specifically for the guys I’m working with. I will write more tightly controlled as I start, and then as we get familiar with each other, opening it up. If I have a specific shot in mind, I’ll call it. When I feel like I know how I need to write for an artist, it gets shorthanded. I just write what I think the beats are and let the artist find the shot. So you don’t have to, but everybody is different and there is no right or wrong. What you need is a writer that knows how to write for you and to get the best out of you. If that’s somebody who calls shots, great. But you’re the visual storyteller and you should have the freedom to tell the best story that you can. It’s all collaborative. You have to figure out how you work together and understand that it’s a process, not a system. It’s going to evolve and change as you evolve and change.
Q: Miles DX from the SEGA blog continues: Also, in a comic script, what is the average amount need to descibe the scene? I know you need to describe the scene as best you can so the penciler knows what to draw, but what is the recommended amount to write without going overboard?
Matt: There’s no overboard. Alan Moore writes three page descriptions for a single panel. I’ve taught a class a couple of times and I start off by reading the script for chapter 1 page 1 of “From Hell”, which is a shot of two guys on the beach and it’s literally three pages of text. And then I read page 1 panel 1 from a Garth Ennis “Punisher” story that’s also two guys on a beach, and it’s one sentence long. There’s no right answer to that.
Q: Miles DX from the SEGA blog continues: What is Marvel’s standards when it comes to storyboards? What I mean is what are the required dimensions for the storyboard, and are they mostly done on computers? If they are done on computers do you use tablets?
Matt: That stuff I don’t know. Find C.B. Cebulski on the internet – he’s Marvel’s art submissions guy. That’s not my department. I do know that the Marvel guys go down to SCAD once or twice a year to headhunt to look for kids and teach seminars and stuff. You should find those guys when they come down. But the art stuff is outside of my wheelhouse, ultimately.
Matt: Until they pry it away from me. I have an end in mind, and I’m just shy of the halfway point to that. Conditions change, and if I can keep going after that, great. But maybe something comes up and I have to leave or want to leave, who knows. For now, they will have to pry it from my cold, dead hands. I’m having the time of my life doing it.
Q: Ins0mnia from Twitter: Do you have anyone to look up to?
Matt: Absolutely. Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez, Grant Morrison, Ellis, Brubaker, Jason Aaron, Jonathan Hickman, and more. I’m very fortunate that I get to be friends with people that I’m a fan of. Comics have never been better than they are right now. I read a ton of them for inspiration, and just because I’m a fan.
Q: What inspires you?
Matt: Everything. Absolutely everything, every day of my life. Stuff comes from everywhere.
Q: helloimandrew from Twitter: Can you name any other boss in the game, and will there be armors to unlock?
Matt: I can name different bosses in the game, but I won’t. Yes, there will be different armors to unlock. Some of the easter eggs will be performance-based. So the better you play, the cooler Tony’s closet gets.
Q: What tips can you give for aspiring comic writers?
Matt: Write every day. Find artists to work with and produce stuff. Learn by doing. I had to write a whole bunch of bad pages before I felt secure enough to show professionals what I was doing. And even still, I write bad pages all the time. I think you have to allow yourself to fail, allow yourself to suck. When you do that, you give yourself the freedom to get better. I wish I had learned this way sooner than I did, but if it’s what you want to do, it’s not a hobby or a game, it’s not something you do when you’re bored. It’s a craft. You need to work on it every single day, and suck every single day until you start getting better. It took me a long time to learn that being a writer is more than just thinking “gosh, I’d like to be a writer”. You have to treat it like a job. If you treat it like a job, you’ll be treated like a professional.
Posted by Kellie in Iron Man 2 on 11:21:59AM Feb 11, 2010
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