So grab a beverage, chill out, and learn more about writer Andi Ewington, hear what it means to write an adaptation, and find out more about his latest project, Ian Livingstone’s FREEWAY FIGHTER from Titan Comics.
PopCultHQ’s Interview w/ Comic Creator
PopCultHQ: You’re quite the busy creator, working on multiple projects with different publishers, as well as different genres. All of this in addition to your signing appearances and regularly engaging with fans and followers on social media. Can you run us through what a typical week looks like for writer Andi Ewington?
AE: Probably not as exciting as you’d think! Monday to Friday I’m working as the Creative Director at an entertainment design agency. This means a long commute from home into London and back every day. My time on the train is divided between producing / setting / lettering any comic pages that I receive on an issue, or writing or editing comic scripts for any projects I may have on at the time. If I don’t have anything, then I tend to be formulating a new IP which I can pitch to publishers. I have two comic ‘golden’ hours, one around 8-9am and another at 6-7pm, outside that I’m either in dad or work mode. Socially I’ll tweet and engage online during the day when I have 5 minutes to myself. As both my Manager, and Agent, are based in the States, I tend to answer a lot of emails when I should really be sleeping.
PopCultHQ: The second issue of Red Dog from 451 has released and the series is getting rave reviews all around. Most people see, from either the cover or in promotion, the title hailed as Rob Cohen’s RED DOG. For those who are unfamiliar with a scenario like this, can you explain what it means that the title is “Adapted by Andi Ewington” and exactly what that entails?
AE: Of course, Rob Cohen is rightly credited as the ‘writer’ of Red Dog, it’s totally his story and he deserves the plaudits. My role was to take his film script and work out how to turn it into a 6 issue series of 28 pages per issue. I had to decide which scenes to cut or develop that would or wouldn’t necessarily translate well onto the comic page. Some scenes which would work beautifully on screen had to be cut as it didn’t necessarily drive the story forward quickly enough to keep the page count on track or end the issue on a cliff hanger. It’s a tricky job cutting and knitting the story back together without the reader spotting anything missing and while keeping the critical beats flowing right. Sometimes I’d suggest little key changes which could push the script further, nothing major, just things I would question as a reader. I’d propose these changes to Rob Cohen/451 and see if they’d agree before cracking on. Even though I’m only adapting the work, all the panel angles and set ups have been interpreted by me from Rob’s excellent script. I’ve found adapting just as fun as creating my own work, it’s great skill to have, one which I continue to develop.
PopCultHQ: Speaking of adaptations, you’ve teamed up with Ian Livingstone to create this post-apocalyptic road-trip series entitled ‘Freeway Fighter’ for Titan Comics based off Ian’s Fighting Fantasy gamebooks. What are the challenges you faced in taking on a globally-recognized RPG and adapting it to the comic book genre?
AE: I always viewed Ian’s project as less of an adaptation and more of an origination, the gamebooks have their story, but there’s so much potential which can be wrapped around that. The main challenge was trying to stay within the canon of the world while making sure the set up was correct. However, that didn’t mean we couldn’t bend the rules a little. Originally, the Freeway Fighter gamebook was set 6 months after a fatal virus wipes out 85% of the population, I always felt 6 months was too little a time to really get the level of carnage that encounter the gamebooks, so we all agreed to extend this canon to 18 months, leaving plenty of time for society to breakdown completely into the lawlessness of the road. The other main challenge was financing the whole project. As you can imagine, comics aren’t cheap to produce, but as luck would have it, an amazing guy and die-hard Fighting Fantasy fan, Matt Mastracci, got in touch. He wanted to invest the full amount we needed to make an 80 page comic dream a reality. I have to give Matt his dues, he took a massive risk on both the idea and me, hopefully you’ll soon see that risk was well worth it in the end. The final challenge for the project was finding a publisher, again luck seemed to favour us as several months of networking, emails, negotiation and contracts later and we had found a home with Titan Comics. Chris Teather, Chris Thompson, Andrew James and Will O’ Mullane, and the rest of the team over at Titan have been superb and certainly made the 4 year journey worthwhile!
PopCultHQ: How has the overall response been so far regarding ‘Freeway Fighter’? Have you received any feedback from the gaming community?
AE: Very positive, everyone has been 100% behind the project and there’s a noticeable increase of excitement as we steadily ramp up towards release. The Freeway Fighter comic news seems to be a bit of a nostalgic blast to many who probably thought they’d never see anything like this happen to the Fighting Fantasy brand. I’m hoping this will reignite the passion in older fans and find new fans, especially those that are aching for a Mad Max fix. The Facebook group are very vocal about the comic and love the little bits of information we are carefully trickling through, I can’t wait for them to enjoy the hard work, love and craft that has been poured into these pages. With luck, this will be the start of a new Fighting Fantasy comic adventure. I also want to thank all the guys in the FB group and on Twitter who have been behind Freeway Fighter from the start, this is for you.
PopCultHQ: This upcoming release with Titan Comics (May 2017) is hailed as a “four-part road trip” which looks to be a bleak and savage world. What can you tell us about the series and what we can expect?
AE: Firstly, you’re going to see a lot more of the Interceptor, this is a story about that car as much as anything. When I started looking at this back in 2012 I had one burning question: ‘How DID that Interceptor wind up in New Hope?’ From there, I began to reverse engineer a sequence of events that plugged neatly into the start of the gamebook. Secondly, you’re going to be introduced to Bella De La Rosa, a no-nonsense former I-400 racing driver who is now finding herself driving to survive in this dystopian hell. Finally, you can expect to see one or two familiar faces, a couple of easter eggs and plenty of insane white-knuckle driving!
PopCultHQ: You’ve had the privilege of working alongside some terrific artists, most recently with Robert Atkins on 451’s Red Dog and Simon Coleby on Titan’s Freeway Fighter. What would you say you either look for, or hope to see, in any artist you’re working with? Perhaps like a characteristic trait, certain skill set, possibly values, anything that either makes you eager to work with a particular artist or something you’ve found which is integral that every artist bring to the project.
AE: That’s a difficult one to answer, I love art, especially comic art and I enjoy scouting out potential artists that I can potentially work with. If the art resonates with me, chances are I’m going to want to work with the artist, regardless of who they are. I’m always networking, reviewing pages and enjoying seeing up-and-coming artists develop. Amazing guys like: Lee Carter, Matt Timson, Cosmo White, Kev Crossley, Ben Oliver, Simon Coleby and Rob Atkins, have helped me in the past and I’ve always tried to repay that with recommendations for new projects. Coincidentally, Simon Coleby and I have become a bit of a regular team-up, we’ve worked together on Forty-Five, Dark Souls II, Just Cause 3 and now Freeway Fighter. As for traits, I’m always looking for a high level of professionalism in delivering quality pages on time. This is paramount as I’m often the conduit between the team and the publisher and so a lot of responsibility rests on my shoulders to make sure deadlines are being hit and to the highest standard possible. If an artist is helping me to do that then I’m going to want to work with them again.
~ Total number of comic book and comic book-related projects of which you’ve been a part since the beginning of your career?
AE: Wow… I really don’t know, officially it sits around 10 (each of these having their own number of issues, or larger graphic novels) beyond that, maybe another 20 or so, writing for small press, editing or helping advise.
~ Favorite comic book you are reading right now?
~ Creator you would love to work with in 2017?
AE: There’s so many to choose from! But, I’m gonna pick ‘Jock’ because I worked with him on Forty-Five and he continues to inspire me to write better stuff so he’d want to draw it (one day, maybe).
~ Favourite Doctor on Doctor Who?
~ What motivates or inspires you creatively?
AE: My kids, I want them to see that you can reach your dreams if you really want to chase them.
~ If you had the opportunity to go back and make changes to any issue you worked on, would you? And if so, which and why?
AE: I probably want to change the way we announced Overrun, it was an amazing indie comic that’s been criminally overlooked. We began shouting about it way too early and couldn’t jump on some great press from the likes of Bleeding Cool and AICN. If I could rewind the clock, I’d have kept everything simmering away in secret before turning up the heat a month before release. You live and learn…
~ Proudest moment for you as either a writer or pertaining to the comic book industry?
AE: Signing my first contract with George Pelecanos, he’s a writing God, and here I was, about to write an eight issue series with him for Michael Bay’s company. S6X was a fantastic learning curve for me, right up there as one of my career highlights.
PopCultHQ: Is there anything you wish to add, to announce or promote, or simply to share with the comic book community?
AE: Just a small thank you on Freeway Fighter to some of the team not mentioned here: Jon Green for editing, Jim Campbell for his superb lettering and Len O’Grady for his awesome colours. I also want to thank my wife and kids for putting up with my comic stuff for all these years.
Finally, go buy Overrun (www.weareoverrun.com) you really are missing out on something a bit cool.
PopCultHQ: Thank you for taking the time to partake in this interview and be featured with PopCultHQ!
Again, a special thanks to Andi for partaking in this interview. Be sure to follow Andi online to keep up with all the latest and hit up your LCS and pre-order Ian Livingstone’s FREEWAY FIGHTER from Titan Comics out this May and RED DOG #3 available March 8th from 451 Entertainment.
IAN LIVINGSTONE’S FREEWAY FIGHTER #1 (OF 4)
SIMON COLEBY & LEN O’GRADY
Critically acclaimed writer Andi Ewington (Just Cause 3, The Six) teams up with original creator Ian Livingstone and artist Simon Coleby for FREEWAY FIGHTER – a furious, four-issue road trip like no other, speeding from Titan Comics in May 2017.
Spinning out of the legendary Fighting Fantasy series of gamebooks created by Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson in 1982, the post-apocalyptic Freeway Fighter distinguished itself by deviating from the usual mix of orcs, goblins and cave- trolls. Celebrating 35 years in 2017, Fighting Fantasy brought together choice driven storytelling with a dice-based role-playing system to create a world in which “YOU are the hero!” The series sold over 18 million copies worldwide and is translated in over 30 languages.
In the new comics series, an unknown virus has wiped out over 85% of the world’s human population. Former I-400 Driver Bella De La Rosa is one of the 15% – living every day as if it were her last. Now, eighteen months after the collapse of civilization, faced with a new world order where violence and chaos rule the Freeway, she must hone her racing skills and survive any way she can!
FC • 32pp • $3.99
On Sale May 17, 2017
ABOUT TITAN COMICS – Titan Comics is a bold new publishing initiative from Titan Publishing, offering readers the best new stories from new and established comics creators – and offering those creators a great deal to bring their stories to a worldwide audience! From editorial to design, Titan Comics helps creators shape their ideas into the best comics possible – while they retain full rights over their creations and intellectual property. Combining unique voices and idiosyncratic visions with strong marketing and a trusted brand, Titan Comics is the ultimate expression of our extensive editorial, design and sales experience. Titan Publishing has been a purveyor of comics, graphic novels, fiction and licensed publishing for over thirty years.
Since 1981, we have been instrumental in the field of licensed film and television properties, including The Walking Dead, Star Wars, Transformers and Star Trek, as well as creator-owned successes such as Tank Girl and Lenore – but now is the time to nurture a new generation of creators, characters and properties.
As well as all-new monthly comics titles, Titan Comics continues to restore and reprint the best classic comics, bringing back seminal titles of yesterday in deluxe and lovingly-produced volumes. Titan also has a broad and active digital portfolio, with all comics and magazines available for simultaneous purchase across major tablet and web interfaces. Titan’s comic titles and collections are distributed to the Direct Market by Diamond, with our collected editions distributed to the book trade by Random House.