‘World Of Warcraft’ Comic’s Ludo Lullabi On Drawing In Azeroth, Pleasing Fans

The new “World of Warcraft” comic debuted last November, and we learned that writing it isn’t so easy.

But for the comic’s penciller Ludo Lullabi, drawing “World of Warcraft” was a dream come true. The 29 year-old French artist (“Eternal Midnight,” “Kookaburra Universe,” “Lilian Cortez,” “Lanfeust Quest”) was such a huge fan of the game, he submitted original “Warcraft”-inspired illustrations to Blizzard, who eventually offered him the project. Here’s an excerpt from my e-mail exchange with Lullabi, translated from French:

“The fact that I am really familiar with ’WoW’ helped me capture the essence of the universe so I could translate it to the comic. Often, I am even doing in-game location reconnaissance. I am riding my sabertooth tiger or I am traveling in Azeroth to do some screen captures or I am simply sitting down in a quiet spot to draw.”

Read on to see how Lullabi works with Blizzard and if he’s worried at all about appeasing the millions of players. (You can also check out his work firsthand in our previews of Issue #0, Issue #1, Issue #2 and most recently Issue #3.)

Multiplayer: How did you come to be the artist for the “World of Warcraft” comic?

Lullabi: I wanted to work on this project for a good long time… One day, we — my editors Jean Wacquet and Olivier Jalabert and me — decided to build a proposal with illustrations inspired from “WoW” and show it to Blizzard without expecting much from it. We got really cool feedback from that experience and that got my name out there. And finally, they offered me the project.

Multiplayer: Were you already familiar with the lore?

Lullabi: I was so excited to work on “WoW” because I have always been a huge fan of the game since it first came out in France. Therefore, I didn’t really have to “adjust,” I was there already. The fact that I am really familiar with “WoW” helped me capture the essence of the universe so I could translate it to the comic. Often, I am even doing in-game location reconnaissance. I am riding my sabertooth tiger or I am traveling in Azeroth to do some screen captures or I am simply sitting down in a quiet spot to draw, but these past months I had to quit the game a little and adapt to a tighter schedule. I have less occasions to play except when I do the location recon…

Multiplayer: Have you read the existing “WoW” comics from Tokyopop? What do you think of them? Did you learn any lessons from those?

Lullabi: Yes, I really like them, but I didn’t use them for inspiration. Manga and comics are really different and I had a clear idea of where to go right from the start, and that was different from Tokyopop’s “Warcraft.”

Multiplayer: How do you know where to start? Did Blizzard give you any direction?

Lullabi: When I started, I received a selection of screen captures showing the main locations of the first arc of the series. I use that a lot. When I start a new issue, I am selecting a set of captures that I will need and sometimes I get them directly from the game. Also, there are a lot of websites where I can source material. For the rest, I do my own thing as long as it feels like “Warcraft.” Sometimes they even give me carte blanche on new designs (like the elementary of Issue #3) and I try to get as close as possible to what we should see in the game.

Multiplayer: How close are you working with Blizzard on this? How does the approval process work?

Lullabi: Wildstorm is centralizing everything and takes care of the follow-up with Blizzard to get approvals and/or corrections when need be. In most cases, corrections are needed to stay true to the game (these thieves can’t cast those spells, this race can’t call a fire elemental, things like that). Blizzard is really careful about following the actual rules of the game and that’s very reassuring for me. Even if I am doing a lot of research for the comic, it helps to know that they will check everything and point out mistakes. The “WoW” universe is rich and complex and that makes it often difficult to be 100% accurate.

Multiplayer: Did you feel that you merged your own style well with the existing “Warcraft” art style?

Lullabi: Yes, I think so… I wanted to work on this project by being faithful to the style of the game. And I adapted my style to fit the “WoW” universe even before actually working on it. My main sources of inspirations are coming from the video games, and “Warcraft” is a real part of my graphic references both in terms of designs and colors. Therefore, when I am working on this project, I totally feel like myself.”

Multiplayer: What was the most challenging part of drawing “World of Warcraft”? The easiest?

Lullabi: So far, the most challenging part must be the arena of Dire Maul. In the script it was supposed to host a lot of spectators, but in the game it looks kinda small in comparison and the columns make it a little hard to add a crowd… I had to choose the “surrounding steps” version even if it makes it really hard for the orcs located behind the columns! As for the easiest part to draw, well… Valeera! ;)

Multiplayer: Do you have a favorite character that you enjoy drawing?

Lullabi: It may sound a little cliché, but that’s got to be Lo’gosh because he embodies the kind of heroes I love: cold and very efficient! And the way he looks, he seems to be very close to the kind of heroes that I have been drawing before, and therefore I feel closer to him.

Multiplayer: Did you find it difficult to draw a property that’s so well-loved and so well-known? Are you concerned at all about pleasing the millions of “WoW” players?

Lullabi: It’s passion more than fear. It’s so awesome to be able to work on such a project that it brings the best in oneself. My main fears were that I could make mistakes in adapting the myths and that would have disappointed the fans but since Blizzard is following the project so closely, I am not so afraid now. Sometimes, I am so focused on doing my work, that I tend to forget the millions of players are behind the game… thanks for reminding me!! :)

Multiplayer: Have you gotten feedback from any “WoW” players at all?

Lullabi: Not so many because I live in France and our comic version hasn’t come out yet… But I have already received a lot of compliments from French players who got the original comics. As for the American fans, since I am not fluent in English, I can’t really say, so I have to rely on the people I am working with and my friends for now. Blizzard seems to be very happy and the comic sells really well, so it’s all cool.

Multiplayer: What do you think about video game-based comics in general — do you read them? Do you have thoughts on what’s the right way to do them?

Lullabi: I wouldn’t even want to try to say how these series should be crafted. As a fan of video games and comics, I am totally for those adaptations and I like the fact that you can enjoy different aspects of the same world on different media. Even if I don’t have lot of quality time, I try to read as many things as I can. I read the “Tomb Raider” and “Street Fighter” series, and I love the work of Ashley Wood on “Metal Gear Solid.” I hope I will get a chance to read “Halo” soon!