The Chain of Command comic book has been continuing every week since we launched it back in April, filling in the story between the end of BC Rearmed and the forthcoming next-gen sequel, and is fast racing towards its thrilling conclusion. If you haven't read up on it yet you'll find 30 pages of comic goodness right here!
The man behind this project is UK comic book writer Andy Diggle, who pens the adventures on such hits as The Losers, Batman, and Swamp Thing. Andy was one of the people originally involved waaaaay back in the day when a Bionic Commando revival was a mere twinkle in Ben Judd's eye. We spoke to Andy to learn more...
How did you originally get involved in the Bionic Commando project?
Capcom producer Ben Judd initially approached me way back when they were putting a "proof of concept" prototype level together, to try and convince the Powers That Be at Capcom that a next-gen Bionic Commando would kick ass. I flew to Sweden a few times to throw some ideas around with the guys at Grin. It soon became clear that director Ulf [Andersson] had a really strong handle on the concept, so I just stepped back and let him get on with it! I guess Ben Judd must have liked where I was coming from, though, because he invited me back to put the promo comic together.
Are you a gamer yourself?
I guess I'm what you'd call a casual gamer. I was a big fan of stealth games like Splinter Cell and tactical shooters like the SOCOM series… until my PS2 died on me! Now I’ve made the jump to Xbox 360 and, like everyone else, I’m hopelessly hooked on Call of Duty 4.
Were you a fan of the original game, or have you played it since you started working on BC?
I must admit I never had a NES, so I hadn’t played the original before getting involved with the new version, though fortunately I got to catch up with the emulator versions online.
How did you get started writing comic books?
I actually started out as the editor of British anthology comic 2000AD (home of JUDGE DREDD, ROGUE TROOPER et al), but I jumped ship when I realized I’d much rather be writing comics than editing them.
Editing is bureaucracy, and who wants to do that for a living? Since then I’ve created various new comic franchises, including SILENT DRAGON, THE LOSERS and GAMEKEEPER, the latter two of which are currently being developed as movies by Warner Bros.
How is this project different from the regular comic book work you do?
It's actually not all that different. I'm editing this one as well as writing it, which helps to streamline the whole process. Capcom want the completed web-comic to be collected as a print version to give away at conventions and the like, so it's been much like putting together a regular comic -- but without the dorky spandex!
Are you involved in any more videogame-related projects? Is this a field you think you or other comic book writers might be getting more involved in from now on?
Funnily enough, I've just recently been approached by a big name from the video game world to develop a new project with him, although I'm sworn to secrecy at the moment. Nothing's signed and sealed yet, but if it does come together it'll be incredibly exciting. New technology is opening up the possibility of doing something genuinely new and exciting here.
But yeah, a lot of us comics guys tend to dabble in games. We got into comics for the love, not the money -- but when we run out of both, we go work for games companies!
How did you approach writing Chain of Command? Was it hard to use a character whose past and future are already decided?
If anything, knowing where the boundaries of the story are actually makes it easier. A blank canvas is kind of intimidating, but if you know you have to get this character from A to B, you just have to think up the most entertaining way to get him there.
The main challenge as a writer was to put BC through a story which really changed him as a character -- to show how he changed from the upbeat, can-do, happy-go-lucky action hero of the original NES game to the dark, cynical anti-hero of the next-gen version. So Chain of Command is set about mid-way between the two games, and shows us how BC came to lose faith in the system he used to be a part of. And blowing up a lot of stuff along the way, of course!
Who is your favorite character from Chain of Command or the Bionic Commando universe in general?
After BC himself, I'd have to say Jayne Magdelene. She was a cool character to write, and it'd be fun to see what she gets up to next.
Tell us a little about the other members of the team working to create this comic book.
I'm really excited to be working with Colin Wilson, who's been one of my favorite comic book artists since I first saw his work on JUDGE DREDD and ROGUE TROOPER when I was a kid. Colin's always had an incredible gift for designing plausible near-future military hardware, so he was my first and only go-to guy to draw this story.
We've also got a megastar artist in Dave Gibbons lined up for the cover, which will make the print version a real collector's item [which you can obtain by pre-ordering the next-gen BC]. Get 'em while they're hot!