War is everywhere in ‘Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning’ (WAR), the new MMORPG from the creators of Dark Age of Camelot. Based on Games Workshop’s popular Warhammer fantasy war game, ‘WAR’ features next generation Realm vs. Realm gameplay that immerses players into the game’s world of perpetual conflict. Commissioned specifically for the Collector’s Edition, Prelude to War is a full-colour, 128-page hardcover graphic novel that contains six stories; The Hill of the Dead, Shadow of the Hunter, Waaagh! Grumlok, Thunder Mountain, Northern Fire, and The Shining Guard.
A fortuitous series of circumstances brought this book about. I’d dropped Ian Brill at Boom Studios an e-mail some time before asking about comic book work, but hadn’t heard anything back for some time. When I finally remembered to chase him up, I sent another e-mail, and within moments I received a mail back from Ian asking if he could ring me that night.
Turned out that EA Mythic, who were doing Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, were putting out a collector’s edition of the game, and had decided to put together a limited run graphic novel in the box. That had been given to Boom, but with one thing and another, there hadn’t been a writer attached. And just as this came to light across the Atlantic, my e-mail popped up asking about work… Talk about luck! That night I got into a conference call with the guys at Boom and EA Mythic, and they talked me through what they were hoping to do. Over the course of that chat, it was decided that we’d do a kind of ‘Chapter 0’, that told more of the back stories of each of the playable factions and how they got to the opening of the game. Each story would run into the next in some form, and as each one developed, it would draw the story closer to the beginning of the game.
This project, more than any of the other comics, required a lot of planning, working out stories that flowed naturally into one another in a way that was believable, action packed and played to the characters who were in the game. I’d been given a load of material pertaining to the game, maps, characters, back stories, ranks and threads for the game that I was able to work into the stories as they developed. Again, since this was a game aimed at non-GW fans as well as the hardcore devotees, it needed to play out in a way that didn’t require any knowledge of the worlds or systems. As such the stories were classic archetypes of each race, with numerous elements from the game seeded in and set in motion.
More than any other comic I’ve done, there was a lot of back and forth between me and EA Mythic, since new ranks, characters, settings and the like were coming down the pipe all the time. They guys there were great, always open to ideas and willing to hear me out when I thought something could be told differently. Each story had its own artist, and each fitted the story in tone perfectly. My favourites have to be the High Elf artwork (by Chad Hardin) and the Empire artwork (by Kev Hopgood). Both are very different, but each captures the essence of each army better than I could ever have hoped. I’m very proud of this book, and I’ve been very pleased to sign a few copies over the years, so hopefully I’ll get the chance to do more with these characters.