Battle Chasers: Nightwar, l’atteso RPG di Airship Syndicate, è ormai in dirittura d’arrivo sulle nostre console. Atteso forse perché proprio l’appena citato team di sviluppo è il neonato studio fondato, tra gli altri, dal titanico fumettista Joe Madureira, celebre per aver firmato alcune tra le saghe più importanti dell’ultimo ventennio (L’Era di Apocalisse, Ultimates) e per il suo stile tendente al dinamismo ipertrofico di manga e animazione orientale. Beh, oltre alla nostra recensione del titolo (in arrivo a brevissimo!), oggi vi offriamo una seconda gemma: la nostra intervista a “Mad Joe”! Scoprite com’è andata, nel nostro resoconto, di seguito in lingua originale (qui la versione tradotta).

First of all it’s an honor for us to have the opportunity to ask you some questions, so thank you. Since the beginning of your career as an artist, you established yourself with a style looking at manga and eastern comics. What was in that culture that influenced you and your imaginary?

I loved the energy of it. The movement. The storytelling was a little more cinematic, the framing of the action and so on. Sometimes I would be reading Appleseed or Gunsmith Cats, and it felt like the characters were literally moving on the page! It was unlike anything going on in US comics at the time.

Your artistic example has been followed by a lot of other comic book authors, encouraged by your success and trying to follow your footsteps. How does it feel to be an icon and what would you like to say to your fans, both readers and artists?

I definitely don’t view myself as an Icon, but thank you! I started out just like anyone else, studying other artists and trying to learn from what they did. I wasn’t trying to create a style, per say. I notice a tendency for young artists to stress over their ‘style’ before they even have the fundamentals down. My advice is just to do what excites you, your style will form over time. My style changes a little from project to project, whether it’s comics or games, so that’s okay too I think. Ask yourself: 1) Does my style fit the project I’m working on (or want to be working on)? And 2) Am I excited about what I’m doing? If the answer to either of those is no, you may want to consider pushing your style in another direction—or finding a new project. I tend to only work on things that excite me. It’s critical. Not sure there’s any other secret to it.

Moving to the videogames world, specifically action games such as Darksiders, do you think your style so dynamic and close to the oriental taste helped? Or do you think that any kind of artist could work with other entertainment media such as videogames, animation and movies?

I think the fact that I’m such a huge fan of video games and animation definitely helped. Going from a 2D medium like comics to 3D, the most important things you’ll realize immediately are that: 1) not everything translates well when you see it from different angles, and 2) things that look cool in a still image break when they move sometimes. It ties somewhat into my answer above. Any artist has a shot at it, sure—but it helps if you love the medium or at least have a very strong understanding of it, or you’ll struggle.

Do you ever think to come back to the comic books world? Do you think it would help, both commercially and artistically to create a stable and mutual relationship between these media, considering Battle Chasers is born on paper?

Actually, I plan on doing 3 new issues of Battle Chasers in the very near future, so yes!

How does an idea change from the moment you come up with it, until it realizes? Did you notice any difference between the creative process in comic books and videogames? Maybe due to technical or budget issues?

It’s very, very different. Usually in comics you’re shooting from a script, and even though you might make small changes here and there, you end up with 90% of what you set out to do. In games, because there are so many factors in constant flux over years of development time like team size, budget, technology, the platforms you’re launching on, or simply testing something and realizing it’s just not as fun as you’d hoped—you end up making changes all the way up until the end. That has been the case on every game project I have ever worked on. You end up with maybe 30-50% of your original vision, and a ton of new stuff that was added along the way, usually to make the game better. So it’s not a bad thing at all, you just have to accept that it’s a natural part of development. I do know artists that struggle with that. I still do sometimes. It’s not for everyone.

What do you think of the comeback of Darksiders? Do you think this new chapter will be able to keep the style you yourself contributed to build?

I’ve been following its development for a while, and everything I’ve seen of it looks great. I don’t think there’s a better choice for it than Gunfire Games. They have many key people from the original Darksiders games, and I’m still close with them, so of course they share stuff with me. I read the script recently and it was awesome!

Speaking of Battle Chasers: how was for you to see the characters you created coming to life through the videogame?

It was magic. It’s definitely one of the most rewarding aspects of game development for me. Drawing concepts and seeing them fully realized in a game world, moving around with sound and music.

Do you think the videogame is the stepping stone for a new series of projects about Battle Chasers? How about an animated series? We’d love to see it!

Hey, that would be a dream come true for me. If the right team comes along, I would love to have that discussion. As far as more games, if this one does well, we’d be excited to make more, definitely.

How come did you decide to create a new studio?

The timing just felt right. For a while, unless you spent $100 million on a game, it probably wouldn’t make it into the top 10. But suddenly, these small indie studios were cropping up making these small games, loving what they do, and finding great success doing it. We started Airship Syndicate with that idea in mind. Just a small crew having fun, doing what we love. Let’s see how it goes…

Why did you choose to tell an unreleased story with Nightwar? Don’t you think that starting from the beginning would have been a wiser choice for all the people who don’t know the Battle Chasers series?

Well, we knew it wouldn’t be a linear story, and that the characters would have to be together off the bat since it’s a party based RPG. It actually would have been much more of an undertaking to try to tell the story of the comic in a linear fashion, and cost way more money. Instead, we opted to make a self contained story that fans of the comic could enjoy, but new players could pick up without any prior knowledge.

Why Battle Chasers and not a new project? And most of all, why after all this time?

We briefly considered doing something new, but the characters and the world lend themselves so perfectly to an RPG of this type, we decided to run with it. I’m glad we did, because clearly there are still many fans that are happy to see it return!

Thanks again for your time Joe, and see you soon!

Thank you!