Interview: Author Andi Ewington talks Dark Souls 2: Into the Light and a lifetime of gaming
Andi Ewington is a powerful writer. As a comic book and graphic novel author, lifelong gamer, and longtime fan of RPGs, Andi has kept his ears open for potential work encompassing all of these aspects. When Namco Bandai approached him about writing a new project based around Dark Souls II, how could he say no?
Dark Souls II: Into the Light is the comic in question. He’s co-writing this project alongside Rob Williams, (Cla$$war, Low Life) who he's worked with in the past. The artist, Simon Coleby, has also worked with Andi, making him familiar with all parties involved. This trio has put together Into the Light which is being released, digitally, for free, two pages a week, every Wednesday via Dark Souls’ Facebook page. It's already a few weeks in, and now is the perfect time to check it out.
Being a monstrous Dark Souls fan myself, I’ve looked forward to the new pages of Into the Light every week. For this reason, I reached out to Andi Ewington to ask him about the project as well as some personal background information. Avid gamer + experienced author = awesome comic writing. They always say write what you know, and I think he’s nailed it with Into the Light.
How was your first ever Dark Souls experience? Did you believe the hype on just how difficult it would be?
Andi Ewington: In a word, frustrating. I’m a huge gamer and an even bigger RPG fan. I kidded myself that with all my years of playing computer games and hours I’ve invested in them, I’d be able to waltz my way through the early levels without breaking too much of a sweat. Fast-forward three hours later and my confidence was utterly destroyed as I still found myself struggling to overcome the first boss. Frustration inevitably gave way to rage, and rage gave way to a begrudging respect. Respect is what I now have for this franchise, and enormous admiration for anyone who actually beats it. Did I believe the difficulty hype? Of course not, like any seasoned gamer I trusted my own abilities would see me tough it out. How wrong I was!
Are you a gamer yourself? What games are your favorite of all time?
AE: Lifelong. I’ve been addicted ever since I clocked ‘MISSILE COMMAND’ on the old ATARI 2600. From the ATARI I moved onto the BBC MICRO B and the phenomenal ‘ELITE’, ‘SABRE WULF’, ‘KNIGHTLORE’ and ‘JET SET WILLY’. From there I rapidly worked my way through the SEGA MEGA DRIVE, DREAMCAST, GAMECUBE, PS1, PS2, XBOX, XB360 until I reached the PS3. However, I’ve yet to make the leap to Next-Gen. I need to work up a watertight excuse that’ll get past my long-suffering wife. I have even managed to forge a career designing computer game key-art and campaigns for a living. As for my all time favourite game, that’s a really tough one to answer, but I’m going to pick the ‘FALLOUT’ series for the amazing open-ended post-apocalyptic experience it delivered.
How did you first get into writing?
AE: Ironically, and indirectly, it was through computer games. I worked out one day that I had just spent over 120 hours playing ‘BALDUR’S GATE’ and reasoned that in that time I could have written a book. I guess you could say that was my ‘Eureka!’ moment. From then on, I dedicated myself to trying to write. It took me around ten years to actually get my first book ‘Forty-Five’ published, so I guess you can say that my initial time projection was a touch on the optimistic side.
How did you get involved in the Dark Souls II: Into the Light project?
AE: I was invited by Namco Bandai to present a full campaign for Dark Souls II. This is quite usual in the industry I work in, and something I’m well versed at. I included in the creative a slow release comic that could be utilized as pre-awareness activity leading up to launch. Namco saw the potential of a comic and asked me to flesh out this further. The fruits of this concept are currently being revealed every Wednesday on Facebook.
Would you be interested in continuing with a Dark Souls II related comics after Into the Light ends?
AE: Without doubt! I’m secretly hoping that Namco sees the potential of expanding what we’ve done and allows us to really get under the skin of the Dark Souls Universe rather than just scratch the surface of it.
What has been your favorite part of Into the Light thus far?
AE: Simply seeing the Dark Souls II brought to life by Simon Coleby’s art. For me personally, it’s like being at the birth of your child, finally being able to see all the little details you’ve only imagined, right there in front of you for the first time. It never ceases to amaze me.
What inspired you when writing for Into the Light?
AE: A huge love of role-playing games! I was an avid Dungeons & Dragons gamer in my childhood, and I even profess to still LARPing from time-to-time. I’ve also got a great love for the Fighting Fantasy brand and managed to work with Ian Livingstone on his 30th Anniversary Edition ‘Blood of the Zombies’. Dark Souls II was simply too good an opportunity to let slip through the net.
Was it difficult working with a co-writer? Did you work closely with Rob Williams to plan out the entire plot/script?
AE: I’ve worked with co-writers before. I’ve always found the process very organic, respectful and highly entertaining. I had some rough plot outlines that I felt would work, and then Rob and I spent the time getting these right before presenting them to Namco. Once Namco chose a direction, we took ten pages each and followed the story arc. We’d then swap and edit each other’s work. Rob took the first and last five pages whilst I concentrated on the middle ten pages. Without knowing beforehand, I think you’d be hard pressed to spot the seams.
You’ve worked with Simon Coleby on Forty-Five, was he the obvious choice as an artist for Into the Light?
AE: Absolutely. Simon was in my short-list of artists I felt could do the brand justice. I’m glad to have had the chance to work with him again.
The Dark Souls community is a tight-knit bunch. Have you found their feedback positive?
AE: I think so. I’ve seen plenty of positive comments. It’s great to see the community cross-examining each panel in meticulous detail as they begin to dig deeper and discuss their theories. To me, that is part of the charm of the Dark Souls universe. Of course, there are those that don’t agree with it, and I respect their decision, however it’s out there so all I’d say is embrace it for what it is, as it won’t spoil your enjoyment of the actual game.
How much lore would you say you’ve added to the Dark Souls universe from Into the Light?
AE: At the start everyone agreed that we weren’t to reveal anything of the lore in this comic. A huge appeal of the franchise comes from players discovering these fragments as they grind their way through the world. For us to simply give up these fragments, however small, would dilute that satisfaction. However, the one thing we could focus on was the sense of desolation and desperation. I think the comic remains faithful to those core values.
Will a completed, non-digital, version of Into the Light ever go on sale?
AE: I don’t know to be perfectly honest! I know a physical version is available through a Zavvi Pre-Order for the UK fans. I hope in time to see it sold, but that’s not down to me I’m afraid.
Can you hint at what your next project will be after Into the Light is finished? Where can new fans check out your previous work?
AE: I’ve two that spring to mind, one is called ‘Overrun’ and has been dubbed "Tron of the Dead," there’s a cool video and some art up at www.weareoverrun.com. And, I’m currently drafting a second project which is a World War Two epic with a twist. I can’t say too much at this stage but keep an eye on my blog for updates http://thefortyfivecomic.blogspot.co.uk
To Praise the Sun or not to Praise the Sun?
AE: Praise the Sun of course!
Historian, teacher, writer, gamer, cheat master, and tech guru: follow on Twitter @AndrewC_GZ