@’s by Mike Kennedy’s BLEEDOUT!
AMBUSH BUG (BUG): So you have a new book called BLEED OUT that’s coming out at the end of July. Is that correct?
MIKE KENNEDY (MK): Yeah, sometime probably at the end of July.
BUG: Well I don’t know any thing about the book, so can you tell me a bit about?
MK: Yeah absolutely. Well it was conceived as a brand expansion to an online game called CRIME CRAFT, which is available right now. If you own a PC and you’re into MMO’s and shooters, you can go on to crimecraft.com and download it. It’s totally free to play. It’s a big download, but if you’ve got a PC with five gigs of space it’s pretty fun. It didn’t really have any kind of story or character or purpose to it with any history or campaign missions, so we created an expansion pack for the game that added a whole new campaign with a storyline and everything and simultaneous to that we pretty much developed the same material to be converted into a book as well, so this is kind of a brand bible for that gaming world.
BUG: Cool. Have you played the game yourself?
MK: Yeah, actually I’ve been producing the ten-episode campaign. I’m not that good at it, but it’s a solid 3D shooter. If you like 3D shooters, this is definitely a special game for you to play, so it’s definitely worth checking out.
BUG: One of the things I do know about the book is that there are a lot of really talented artists that are connected to it as well. Can you tell me about that?
MK: Absolutely. Putting together the campaign for the game one of the things is we wanted to do it in ten weekly episodes, so every Saturday we were just going to release another two and a half hours of game play with kind of a book end story cinematic. So to do that we reached out to ten different artists each to kind of illustrate the bookend cinematics for each episode and so we got some really solid talent. We’ve got Nathan Fox, Zack Howard, Samford Green, David Williams, Ben Templsmith, Gary Urskind, Glenn Fabrie, Howard Shakin, Vinve Prost, and Trevor Harrisine each to do episodes.
BUG: Wow, I can’t believe you remembered all of them.
MK: Yeah, well I’ve got to go through chapter order, so working on this thing for so long and then of course we got Tim Bradstreet to do our key art and cover. So each of them pretty much illustrated an episode of the game which really translates into a chapter of the book and since they were doing them as full comic pages I mean it was just a no-brainer to “We need to put this out as a book as well.”
BUG: So is this a narrative? Are all of the stories connected or is it a series of single sort of stories?
MK: It’s an interesting semi linear narrative. I mean there are so many things going on. Each episode is kind of spotlighting a different aspect of the world. Just to give a back story it’s kind of a near future where oil has depleted in the course of nine months, so with no warning the entire commercial infrastructure just collapses, so it’s the new age of ruin and so with everything that we take for granted just destroyed like a new system of government has taken up the ranks and so basically it’s about this city that is controlled by seven different crime families and what it’s like to live in that city. Each of the chapters will focus on a different aspect of that, like one chapter will focus on one of the crime families, another one will focus on another, but there is a through line of this central character and what happens to him that kind of ties all of these chapters together. So there is a single story. It isn’t necessarily linear, so you do kind of put the pieces together, but kind of like LOST or THE X FILES it’s like there’s a little bit of a fun conspiracy puzzle to it, but it is all there in the first book.
BUG: You just said “the first book,” so are there going to be more?
MK: We’re hoping. Obviously we’ve got to see how well this book does, but I mean it is a complete story and it really sets up the background and sets up the world, especially for game players, like if you like the book, jump into the game, because that’s the world you are now going to be occupying. If it does well, clearly there are just dozens and dozens of stories we could tell.
BUG: Fantastic. So is this your first book? What have you done before this?
MK: I’ve been writing comics for about twelve or fifteen years. I’ve done a bunch of stuff for Dark Horse. I did a bunch of STAR WARS series. I did a SUPERMAN book, a hardcover for DC, SUPERMAN: INFINITE CITY. I’ve done a lot of licensed stuff for Dark Horse like the AEON FLUX series. I’ve done some ALIENS VS. PREDATOR stuff. I created a series called LONE WOLF 2100 for Dark Horse and that ran for like twelve issues. Video games are always the day job, comic books are always the fun sanity saving side gigs, but yeah as of last week I’ve got it turned in on the videogame side and now I get to focus completely on the real fun creative stuff in the comic books.
BUG: It does seem like more and more there are a lot of videogame things and video tie ins and everything. Is it difficult to translate a videogame to a comic book?
MK: It depends on what stage you are coming into. If it were a matter of writing a comic as a tie in for a game that already exists then of course you’ve got a lot of continuity stuff you’ve got to pay attention to and a lot of approvals you’ve got to go through, but actually the last two titles, BLEED OUT being on of them, and the Xbox arcade game that I did right before that, we also had a comic book that Dark Horse produced for that one, but the thing is in both of those cases we kind of knew we were going to be doing that at the same time, so the video game and the comic book developed simultaneously and when you can do it like that… When you can build the brand in many directions at the same it’s a lot more free, it’s a lot easier, and in a lot of cases it’s just a lot more exciting, because you discover something while writing the comic that would fit great in the game and both of them are flexible enough where they can kind of take advantage of each development.
BUG: So is this going to be coming out in conjunction with the video game?
MK: Actually the game is available right now. If you go to crimecraft.com right now you can download it. It’s actually been live for about a year and this expansion actually premiered in December and so it ran for ten weeks, so the campaign is actually already done. All ten episodes have aired, but it’s like a DVD set, if you jump in the game right now you can go back and play the episodes in order, so they will always be available.
BUG: Archaia has become popular with these great presentations of their books and they have some really cool ways of presenting books. What’s BLEED OUT going to have? Is it going to be another hard cover or is going to be single issues?
MK: No, in fact I think in general Archaia is very comfortable moving away from the single issue and start focusing on the really well crafted book presentation in the book market.
BUG: Every one of their books are just so beautiful.
MK: Honestly, coming into the company it’s like I liken companies like Dark Horse, Marvel, and DC more to like TV networks where their day to day is focused on producing quick regular episodes of an ongoing series where I would say that Archaia is more like a movie studio where we can focus on a self-contained well crafted single presentation, like a movie. You know, you can always do sequels and stuff with second volumes, but each book is going to be a self-contained experience.
BUG: Can you talk a bit about your new job at Archaia?
MK: I have actually officially joined Archaia as the publisher, so they’ve got a lot of exciting things coming up and one of the things of this new initiative, just looking at the size of this booth you can tell, Archaia is really ready to kick it into third gear and take that next step into a larger awareness space and part of that is not just focusing on the books, but focusing on the brands. Archaia will always be a strong creator owned house, but not just towards just putting out the books, but all media in expansion to that. I mean digital prints, film, interactive… Archaia really wants to support the brands. The book will always be the starting cornerstone of these brands, but we really want to… The video game industry is evolving and the print industry is evolving, especially with digital distribution on both ends; it’s really changing things drastically. So Archaia is in a position where they are agile, they are flexible enough, and they are just the right size now to grow into this new dynamic and take advantage of all of these opportunities.
BUG: I’ve been doing some interviews with Archaia for the last few years and just seeing it grow from one convention to the next is a really amazing thing. They really have come a long way in just a very short amount of time.
MK: I mean even I was surprised. I’ve been working with them for the last six months and frankly I wasn’t that familiar with them before six months ago, but just in the six months leading up to this presence at this show is like “Okay, Archaia is serious about playing a strong game” and they’ve got some really cool stuff coming up this year.
BUG: Congratulations on the book. I can’t wait to read it. Thanks for taking the time to talking to me.
MK: No, thank you man.
BUG: Look for BLEEDOUT on sale now from Archaia and Volgster Entertainment! Check out trailers and more about BLEEDOUT here! Order the book by clicking here!
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole / wordslinger / reviewer / co-editor of AICN Comics for over nine years. Support a Bug by checking out his comics (click on the covers to purchase)!
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Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G