Blizzard Entertainment Creative Design Director Chris Metzen, Blizzard Entertainment writer Micky Neilson, and Wildstorm comic book artist star Jim Lee unveiled the World of Warcraft: The Comic Book on San Diego Comic Con 2007 by the end of July, and at BlizzCon days later. You may read the original press release.
Blizzplanet caught the attention of a free sampler days before the official announcement (Image Scans). And immediately sent a heads up to Kotaku and Newsarama.
Today, we talk with Walter Simonson about the World of Warcraft comic book from DC Comics / Wildstorm where he is main writer and head-honcho of both story arcs. Walter is working alongside Jim Lee and Blizzard Art Director Samwise Didier (Covers), Ludo Lullabi (Art) and Sandra Hope (Ink).
Many know who Walter is, but to those new to comic books: Walter Simonson is a popular and veteran American comic book writer and artist hired by DC Comics, Marvel Comics and other publishers along the past 30+ years. Walter is known for his work and memorable legacy: The Star Slammers (1974), Metal Men, Manhunter (DC-Detective Comics), The Mighty Thor, Wonder Woman, X-Factor, Fantastic Four, and Orion among others. You may read further recognition and awards in wikipedia. He doesn’t work alone in this endeavour. Chris Metzen and Blizzard Entertainment walk the extra mile offering Walter collaboration and support to stay true to the World of Warcraft universe.
1. Will the Warcraft comic series be a limited or ongoing series? I’ve heard that there are plans for at least two story arcs, and after those tales are told will the comic series end or continue?—by Rowan Seven
Walter: This Warcraft comic is going to be a 12-issue story, broken into two 6-issue story arcs.
As far as future Warcraft comics are concerned, that decision is in other hands than mine. Right now, I’m just working to create 12 kickass issues.
2. Is the amnesic main character some hero from the past, or a character that we already know of? Or is he someone entirely new? The ball was pitched during the San Diego Comic Con asking whether he was the missing King of Stormwind, Varian Wrynn. Chris Metzen and Micky Nielsen somewhat evaded the question. – by Kenzuki
Walter: You know, if Chris and Micky—somewhat evaded the question’, there’s NO way I’m going to step into the line of fire!
3. Are the events of the Wow# 1 happening before or after the events of World of Warcraft: Cycle of Hatred?—by Medievaldragon
Walter: The events in the comic book take place after World of Warcraft: Cycle of Hatred.
4. At what point in the timeline does this story take place?—by xlandhenry
Walter: The present.
5. The DC Direct action figures are obviously characters from the World of Warcraft comic book. So I have to ask, why is there a Draenei character and What could you tell us about Vindicator Marrad? Did the Exodar crash on Azuremyst Isle this far back in time pre-Burning Crusade?—by Medievaldragon
Walter: Actually, it was the other way around. Several of the characters in the comic were based on the action figures. I’ve picked up on some of them in the comic, fleshing them out and giving them histories. But I’m not trying to use every figure, just ones that fit into the story. At the moment, there isn’t a Draenei in the comic book. No Vindicator Marrad. The Exodar crash isn’t part of this story which occurs post-Burning Crusade.
6. Will Thrall, Jaina Proudmoore, Vol’jin, Cairne Bloodhoof, Lady Sylvanas, Lor’Themar, Bolvar Fordragon, Mekkatorque or any of the other Horde or Alliance leaders appear in this comic?—by Kenzuki
Walter: Ummm, some of these characters will be in the comic as we go along. Jaina Proudmoore for one but don’t tell anybody I said so. Some of the other names have come up in plot discussions and may even appear but my lips are sealed.
7. Chris Metzen referred to the main character as the anti-Thrall. Could you elaborate what this means? Seeing as the amnesic hero lands on Durotar, it seems he might meet Thrall in Orgrimmar soon.—by Medievaldragon & Saibot
Walter: Mmmmm. I think I know what Chris meant but I’d really rather not put words in his mouth. I don’t know if you can pry an answer out of him, but I think that he’s the guy to elaborate on that thought. I have enough difficulty keeping my own thoughts straight. As things stand now, our hero won’t be meeting face-to-face with Thrall although he will be in Orgrimmar.
8. What would be the Blood elves stance towards this hero?—by Mark_Romaneck
Walter: One of the main characters in the story is a blood elf and I like to stick to specifics rather than generalizations, except of course when I’m avoiding a direct answer because I don’t want to spoil the story. So what I can say here is that our blood elf thinks that our hero is hot.
Sorry. I couldn’t resist.
9. What sort of qualities does our main hero have? Can you give an in-depth description about what makes him a good/interesting protagonist?—by Aldrius
Walter: I could but really, I prefer to let the story spin itself out in the comic rather than giving the game away here. I will say that our hero is a surprisingly effective warrior, a human who seems to have hidden talents, but a character with flaws (I don’t just mean the amnesia) that are troubling. And potentially fatal. For example, no matter how good you are, nobody should zone out in the middle of a battle to the death!
10. Will we see any interesting female characters in the book? (Any of note from previous WarCraft games or books.)—by Aldrius
Walter: There’s a female blood elf (see answer above) in the comic who I think is very interesting. You’ll have to make your own judgment call about her when the comic comes out. I myself find that Valeera is a lot of fun-cranky, sexy, independent, curious, driven, and proud. And nicely drawn. (g)
And there are a number of other interesting female characters who will be appearing the comic, some in lesser roles, some in major ones.
11. Will the comic book hero have any sort of redeemable qualities?—by Aldrius
Walter: You’ll never know how much I want to say that you’ll be able to redeem our guy for 5 books of Green Stamps. But my wife tells me that nobody out there except us old guys will understand that joke. So I’ll skip it. I do think the hero has some cool qualities-the major ones being an overdeveloped sense of responsibility and an indomitable will. But what makes the character equally interesting are the qualities he doesn’t have and is in search of. And as I mentioned above-he’s a very formidable warrior.
12. Comic books usually show narrative flashback stories, be it a character telling a past experience to someone, remembering something within his mind, or simply as a writer introduction to the issue’s plot. Can we hope to see mention of previous Warcraft eras such as the Troll Wars, the Three Hammer Wars, the First and Second Wars, War of the Ancients, etc?—by Medievaldragon
Walter: You do know this IS only a twelve issue series of comics right, not a trilogy of novels? I am using flashbacks in the course of the story, but I’m using them as revelatory memories regarding the hero’s life. There are some mentions (sort of) of some of the deep Warcraft histories-and these definitely inform the actions of these characters—but the focus of the comic is on the present or the fairly recent past.
13. How much material from the Warcraft RPG Books (Arthaus) and pocket books did you use for the first 6-issues of the World of Warcraft comic book? Could you mention which books?—by Medievaldragon
Walter: I don’t know that I’ve taken any material from the Arthaus books other than background stuff. There’s been a ton of consulting with Blizzard so I’ve gotten a lot of information directly from them. And they’ve been exceptionally helpful at answering my questions and making useful suggestions in a timely fashion. (That last bit is so important I can’t tell you!)
14. Can we expect much, if any interaction with characters from the games, novels, RPG Books such as Rhonin, Krasus, Falstad, Vereesa, Eitrigg, Tirion Fordring, Taelan Fordring, Velen, Finnal Goldensword (Jaina’s half-sister), Tandred Proudmoore? Or will the series primarily revolve around characters of its own creation?—by Hawki
Walter: There is interaction within the comic between the characters created within the story in the comic and some of the characters from the game. Just none of the ones you’ve mentioned. See below.
15. Will we see familiar Non-Playable Characters (NPCs) from cities and outposts of World of Warcraft in the comic book? That would be a nice touch.
Walter: There will be both major and minor NPCs appearing in the comic book. Some appear briefly in passing, others in more major roles. A couple of them-but not the only NPC ones-included Hamuul Runetotem and Magatha. Other than that, my lips are sealed-again. Sort of.
16. Dragons have been a part of the MMORPG since early quests in Wetlands. Will the comic book portray any of the Dragon Aspects or their dragonflight, Kalecgos, Tyrygosa, Nefarian or Lady Katrana Prestor in Stormwind (aka Onyxia)?
Walter: Boy. This is REALLY a question I’m not going to answer.
17. Will you be a returning writer after your 6-issues run commitment?—by Medievaldragon
Walter: I’m writing the 12-issue story, so essentially, I’m writing two 6-issue arcs that will form a single story. Everything after that is in the lap of the gods.
18. Will there be Outland or Northrend scenes of certain characters plotting schemes remotely, or contacting spies within the Horde/Alliance? For example, Rommath the ambassador was sent by Kael’Thas to Silvermoon. Pathaleon the Calculator is seen sending a holographic transmission to Blood Elves in Bloodmyst in early quests. the Scourge has a perma-link with Arthas the Lich King alike that of the Queen Borg.—by Omacron & Medievaldragon
Walter: No scenes directly related to Outland or Northrend will be appearing in this 12-issue arc. We will see a fair amount of plotting skullduggery in secrecy by shadowy figures including assassinations, political intrigue and such, but all of it has to do with this particular story. Some of it is, however, based on existing lore within the game own storylines.
19. Seeing as this is an alliance-centric story on Kalimdor, will Theramore, Bael’Modan or the Wildhammer village north of Ashenvale play a large role?—by Omacron & Segwarides
Walter: Well, we will visit Theramore. A pivotal event in the story occurs there, but our heroes are really passing through. They do stop in Ashenvale for a time. There is a fair amount of traveling in the story, which is pretty much what you’d expect when you’re on a quest. I don’t believe that the other locations figure in this tale.
20. Will the series involve only story arcs relating to one central storyline or can we expect occasional one-shots in which the core characters are not involved?—by Nephalim
Walter: This particular series consists only of the 12 issues in this storyline. While the main storyline concerns our protagonist, there are several other characters who have their own arcs that intersect with our man but also follow their own directions. However, all their stories will be told within these 12 issues.
I don’t know whether or not there will be any spinoffs down the road. That’s an editorial decision. And oddly enough, none of the editorial staffs of the various companies involved ever call me up to have me tell them what to do. Hard to believe, isn’t it? :-pppppppppppppp
21. In World of Warcraft: Cycle of Hatred, Aegwynn ends up becoming councilor of Jaina Proudmoore and has remained disguised at her side ever since at Theramore. Can we hope to see Aegwynn interact with the amnesic hero at some point?
Walter: Ummmmmm – it’s entirely possible that such hope might be rewarded.
22. Will there be a third party included in the main plot in addition to the Alliance and the Horde? i.e. Twilight’s Hammer Cult, Shadow Council, Burning Blade Cult, Goblins, Scarlet Crusade, Defias Brotherhood, etc.—by Kerrah
Walter: Definitely. I’d prefer not to give any more details right now but I will say-you’re getting warm.
23. We know we’re going to see Dire Maul in issue two, and some sketches in the sampler showed the entrance to Booty Bay. Can we get any names of other familiar places the comic will explore?—by Jawbreaker
Walter: Sorry. I don’t want to give anything away.
[Orgrimmar, Thunder Bluff and the Pools of Vision, Ashenvale, Darnassus, the Eastern Kingdoms]
Who said that!?
24. Virtually all of the characters known to be appearing in the comic have distinct classes (Warrior, Rogue, Paladin, Druid, Hunter, etc.). How literally do you intend to portray their roles, spells, and abilities?—by Hawki
Walter: As accurately as possible without being too specific-sounds paradoxical doesn’t it? What I mean is that, at Blizzard’s preference, I’m keeping things like magical spells slightly non-specific. So nobody’s going to be specifically casting the Spell of the Thousand Dancing Insects. (Sorry-I’m watching the Indians/Boston baseball playoff game in Cleveland right now! Midge-city back during the Cleveland/Yankee series if you’ve been paying attention.)
But Broll, a night elf Druid, will be using a staff and not a sword. We’re trying to work with the specific instruments/tools/artifacts of the various characters.
25. Will we get to see the lore surrounding the MMO dungeons such as Dire Maul more fully fleshed out, or will it simply reiterate what we already know about them while focusing more on the protagonists and the action?—by Dalkagar
Walter: See the answer after the next question.
26. In issue# 2, the amnesic hero ends up in Dire Maul, an ancient location formerly known as Eldre’Thalas. The first 5-pages of the comic book shown at MTV Multiplayer reveals the Shaman Rehgar Earthfury is collecting gladiators to take to Dire Maul Arena and that’s how the amnesic hero ends up in Dire Maul. Will the story show any of the three dungeon NPCs of Dire maul such as Prince Tortheldrin, or the Satyrs on the east-wing? A backstory of the Shen’dralar night elves and Eldre’Thas?
Walter: I’ll answer these last two questions together. Regarding Dire Maul, there is going to be some elaboration in the comic about what goes on there that you haven’t seen before. So I guess you could say that we’re expanding the lore a bit. And since this Dire Maul is part of a comic and not a computer model, I expect you’ll see some stuff there you haven’t seen before.
There will be characters in Dire Maul-a lot of them actually-in the comic but they are characters created specifically for this story. And we’re going to witness an event involving ogres (and others) that occurs regularly in a hitherto underutilized part of Dire Maul.
27. Is Rehgar a member of the new Horde, or does he have connections with a third-party organization such as Burning Blade, or Stormreaver remnants?—by Segwarides
Walter: Rehgar is part of the original Horde that invaded Azeroth under Warchief Blackhand. Today, however, he’s part of Thrall’s Horde (the modern Horde).
28. Will the comic book go into the backstage plots and details of popular World of Warcraft MMO questlines such as the missing diplomat, The Howling Vale / Scythe of Elune (a long questline where Velinde Starsong summoned worgen wolf-men into Ashenvale), the Druids of the Fang (Wailing Caverns), Raene’s Cleansing? What other questlines could be expected in the comic book to attract the interest of fans?—by Medievaldragon
Walter: None of the above, which isn’t to say that we aren’t addressing some long-standing unresolved questions of lore. But if I told you what we were really doing, you wouldn’t need to read the comic now, would you?
29. Are we gonna get to see any significant tauren characters that plays deep into the story? As of right now even the major tauren characters have little part in most of the story arcs.—by Terrorhoof @ Deathwing
Walter: Several of the issues coming up involve tauren characters interacting with our heroes. A couple of NPC taurens will make appearances in the story.
30. A peculiar pattern of comic books nowadays is that when they become very popular and successful they get spinoffs such as the various Superman titles. Has the team thought of a Horde-oriented comic book title? Or other spinoffs such as the Adventures of Rhonin and Krasus through time—Nozdormu chose them to help 10,000 years in the past for example. Maybe they could travel to other timelines in Warcraft’s past or future. The Adventures of Khadgar and the Alliance Expedition through space in other planets these past 20 years? That would be cool. I would buy it.
Walter: Actually, I think spin-offs in every entertainment medium are fairly common. Comics, TV, even movies (if you count sequels). But be that as it may, all of our effort right now is focused on trying to get these 12 issues right, and the story in hand well told. Even 12 issues of a comic isn’t a lot of material compared to, say, a novel. I think your ideas are great but realistically, you’re talking about a LOT of comics there!
Not that I wouldn’t love to do them. I could use the work. But right now, this is the story of our guy and his friends. And enemies.
31. Limited Series are also common in comic books. I would personally love to read World of Warcraft: The Three Hammers War # 1-6. Wow: The Troll Wars# 1-6. Wow: Ordering of Azeroth# 1-6 (featuring the Titans vs. Old gods). Wow: The Guardians of Tirisfal# 1-12 with an older Aegwynn as narrator. Other time-frames here. Has Chris Metzen and the DC Comics team considered Limited Series spinoffs? As a comic book reader and collector myself, I consider these are viable formats to expand upon the stories of the Warcraft games.
Walter: This doesn’t seem to be a question so I don’t have any answer for you. However, your suggestions certainly sound like fun. See the first two sentences of the last paragraph of the answer above! (With any luck, my editors will see this!)
Thanks a bunch to Walter Simonson, Alex Segura (DC Comics) and Blizzard Entertainment. Special thanks to the World of Warcraft community at the WoW official forums, Blizzplanet’s Warcraft Lore forums and Scrollsoflore.
This comic book ships out with issue# 1 on November 14. You may order World of Warcraft# 1 at a newsstand or comics shop near you, or online … Up to 75% off your new comics – MailOrderComics.com
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