Exclusive: Author Christopher Shy Gives Us the Scoop On Dead Space: Liberation
Dead Space 3 is right around the corner, and now is the perfect time to delve into the horrifying world ahead. Author Christopher Shy discusses his new book, Dead Space: Liberation; recreating our protagonist John Carver; expanding the Dead Space universe; and much more!
AMANDA DYAR: Dead Space: Salvage released back in December 2010, just before the release of Dead Space 2 a month later. Despite releasing between the first two games in the series, where does Dead Space: Salvage fit into the Dead Space storyline, and why should fans of the video game series pick it up during its second release?
CHRISTOPHER SHY: Dead Space: Salvage informs a greater story that is being woven into the franchise. Schneider and the rest of his crew find the Ishimura and try to salvage it. Details slowly emerge that will inform the greater mystery of the marker and the Dead Space universe. Punk rock miners killing monsters.... tune in for that alone.
AMANDA: Dead Space: Salvage introduced fans to an established universe through a different perspective and art style. How did you choose the aesthetics for your own vision while still allowing the work to be easily recognizable as part of the Dead Space series?
CHRISTOPHER: I always start with sketches and build a sort of Style Guide after I read the script. I had my own ideas on how to approach the characters in Dead Space Salvage, an imagined future of styles, cultures, and what movements may be happening on a social level. I wanted the characters to reflect a sort of re-emerging punk movement in the future: blue hair, a sort of Enki Bilal future with face paint, miners' war paint. Each one of these characters had a life before the events of the story; I wanted to inform that, down to the types of Rigs they wore. For Liberation I wanted to stay much more rooted in the Dead Space game universe because I wanted to marry the events in this book a bit tighter to prelude what was to come. I weathered Carver’s Rig suit, but I wanted a classic Dead Space look. There was a little back and forth on possibly doing a Rig suit that had a more open face spacesuit sort of feel on the planet's open surface, but other than that, it was complete freedom. I am already a huge fan of Dead Space, so I tend not to stray too far with the designs. Liberation has some great epic moments, and Ian wrote a fantastic script.
AMANDA: In the new release, Dead Space: Liberation, you've been working together with author Ian Edgington to create an original storyline for the Dead Space series. Can you describe the process of working with the authors of these books, how ideas are translated to each other and how it eventually all comes together to the finished product we will soon be reading?
CHRISTOPHER: Ian is fantastic; I loved working with him. There is a bit of difference between British and American comics, in terms of how we break things down, but Ian and I never ran into those problems. I would get his pages and do a general breakdown, thumbing the pages into a 10- or 20-page sequence, and lay in the dialogue. Because we had such a limited time on this one, we tweaked a lot of the script back and forth as we went along. He gave me complete freedom, and in return, I expanded some of his scenes to give us some room for those epic Necromorph moments. It was a great collaboration, a fantastic guy. Sometimes I would see something that we could really expand on, like Ellie’s sexual tension with Carver, and run with it, and Ian was right on board. We both recognize it is the moments in between the storms that really set the tone, and the mood for things to come, and Ian was very supportive of those judgment calls on my part.
AMANDA: For Dead Space: Liberation, you were given the job of recreating an established protagonist named John Carver from the upcoming release of Dead Space 3. Did you find it more difficult from an artistic approach to create scenes for original characters or someone who is already known such as Carver, and has your approach in design changed any since the release of Dead Space: Salvage?
CHRISTOPHER: Not difficult at all. EA has always been really fantastic at allowing me to explore outside of the window in the Dead Space universe, and Liberation was no exception. I think the only thing that we kept in mind on this one was that the events in this novel would lead directly into the release of Dead Space 3, and so we needed to marry the consequences of each character's action very carefully at the end. When I painted Salvage, we knew that these characters would be a blank slate, so I took advantage of that and brought a bit of my own backstory to each character's design. That did not change too much in Liberation, with the exception that at the end I knew they needed to look a certain way to ease them into the next chapter of their story. Ellie’s design I tweaked a bit, Carver’s Rig was already established, but I was able to bring my own design flair. We did a lot of concept work leading into the novel, with me showing different approaches to how we could portray them.
AMANDA: The Dead Space universe continues to expand with each new release and is already one of the best survival horror franchises around, and it will likely be around many years from now. What type of creative freedom are you given when working on the Dead Space storyline, and what have you personally added to the series that fans might not realize? Also, what would you like to see in a future story that you haven't yet seen in the series?
CHRISTOPHER: EA gave me almost complete freedom to help expand the Dead Space universe. You couldn’t ask for better creative partners, really. Cate Latchford and Chuck Beaver have always been incredibly supportive of my vision on these books, and how I would approach certain things artistically. I would pitch certain ideas I would have, about the characters, and a lot of what I wanted made it in. I loved building the characters in Salvage, Schneider being one of my favorites, his relationship with Captain Li, and how Schneider grew into his role as hero in that story. I would love to revisit him and bring that full circle. There are a lot of small in jokes painted on the walls in both novels to watch out for.
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