Commentary Track: Comic Artist Christopher Shy On Illustrating ‘Dead Space: Liberation’

Studio Ronin artist Christopher Shy (“Soul Stealer”) had to work to figure out the right look for “Dead Space” character John Carver. Translating Visceral Games’ world into comics was a challenge for the artist who worked with writer Ian Edginton to bridge the stories between “Dead Space 2″ and the upcoming “Dead Space 3” in the February 5 release, “Dead Space: Liberation” from Titan Books.

From the official synopsis:

Following the events of the smash video game hit Dead Space 2, we follow Earthgov Sergeant John Carver whose wife and son are attacked by fanatics trying to liberate the Marker site where she works. Racing to solve the clues his wife left behind, Carver teams up with Ellie Langford, survivor of an earlier Necromorph outbreak on the Sprawl, and EarthGov Captain Robert Norton. Together they unlock deep secrets about the Markers in an epic adventure that will determine the fate of mankind.

Titan Books provided us with a sneak peek of “Liberation” and Shy offered his commentary on the pages. Find out more about the artist’s process in bringing the horror of “Dead Space” to life on the page.

For this two page shot in “Dead Space: Liberation,” we have John Carver talking to his wife. What I wanted to do here was really show Carver at the end of his rope. His marriage is really coming to an end, here, and he has to make a choice, do his duty, or go back home. His choice here really decides his fate is the coming events in Dead Space Liberation. Carver loves his wife and son, but he is a soldier, and that duty, no matter what he is told to do, will override everything else. It’s his sense of purpose, and anchor. I did about 50 sketches of Carver before I felt I nailed him.

Creating Carver wasn’t easy. Ian wrote any amazing script, and EA was extremely generous in allowing me to look at all of the in game art concerning Carver, but I wanted to flesh Carver out. John Carver shouldn’t look like an action hero; he should be the everyman having ordinary problems, when an extraordinary tragedy thrusts him into the role of hero, a mantle he will never be comfortable with.

I started the page with sketches, and built out his look from thinking about coal miners, how tired and dirty they look after coming up from a day’s work, a tremendously tired purpose. I also never wanted Carver to look like he enjoyed his place in the universe. A kind of man that missed his place in the world after the war was over, but was never comfortable with fighting once the attack in Liberation started.

For the next two pages we see Carver witness the possible death of his family. Looking at Ian’s script, all of the elements were there; it was just my job to bring them out. I wanted Carver in shock, forced to act, this sequence really starts his journey. I expanded on this sequence quite a bit. We had a page count Ian and I needed to stick too, but as with most novels you can feel when a sequence can use a bit more expansion, and these pages were no exception.

I also wanted to draw on elements of the animated short I had painted for EA a few months before as a teaser to Dead Space three. I had worked closely with Cate Latchford, Chuck Beaver and Beth Pielert, to bring in, and construct all of the elements for that, so we could dove tail the events in Liberation to transition smoothly the animated teaser into the graphic novel, and back out, in the end to lead into Dead Space three. It was a lot of work, but in the end I think the graphic novel gives us a bit more personal look, at Ellie Langford, John Craver, and Captain Norton.

“Dead Space: Liberation” will be available next week from Titan Books. Titan is also re-releasing “Dead Space: Salvage” featuring Shy’s work in this story bridging the first game and “Dead Space: Aftermath.”

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