Any tabletop role-playing gamer can attest that swapping war stories of his or her adventuring party’s exploits is half the fun of playing. We’ve all harbored secret desires of seeing the story of our brave warriors slaughtering a demonic spider queen in order to banish a demon back to the Astral Plane in comic book form, which is why I was thrilled to hear that Dynamite Entertainment was adapting Paizo Publishing’s Pathfinder RPG into a monthly comic. Even more exciting? They put it in fantasy comic vet Jim Zub’s hands of +1 Wordsmithing and bestowed the Mighty Pencil of Drawing unto illustrator Andrew Huerta. Not only did I get to pick their brains on the process of adapting a tabletop RPG into a comic, but Nerdist News is giving away copiesfor lucky readers.
N: Pathfinder is based on a popular RPG. Does adapting a cohesive narrative from more of a free-form user-driven game present any challenges, or did you find the pre-existing structure to be helpful?
Jim Zub: I’m an old school tabletop RPG player, so I was totally comfortable diving in with the game setting and creating a new story. Having such a well-defined world to work within is extremely helpful as a springboard for plots and characters, just as it is when playing a game.
N: Tell us a bit about the comic for those who might not be as well-versed with Pathfinder.
JZ: Pathfinder is classic fantasy done with modern storytelling flare. It’s character-driven sword & sorcery with an engaging group of warriors who find themselves embroiled in adventure and exploration. The comic series is being made so readers who have never played the Pathfinder RPG will be able to dive in just as much as long time fans of the game.
N: You mentioned you were an old-school tabletop RPG gamer. What were some of your favorites? Why do you think that medium resonates with people?
JZ: I started playing Dungeons & Dragons with my older brother and cousins when I was 8 years old and have been an RPGer ever since. I dug in deep with fantasy at first, but over the years have played almost every major tabletop RPG on the market – Vampire the Masquerade, Shadowrun, Call of Cthulhu, Feng Shui, GURPS, Rifts, TMNT, all of them.
The chance to sit down with friends and collaborate on a story together is really compelling to me. You get to be creative as a group and no one at the table knows exactly how the story is going to turn out. It’s immersive and entertaining like no other video game or board game could ever be.
N: What is it about the world of Pathfinder that excites you and makes it ideal for a comic book?
Andrew Huerta: Everything about it, from the characters, setting, history, mythology, monsters, demons, weapons and magic. It’s a comic artist’s dream to work on a fantasy book like Pathfinder, where my imagination can go wild and I can add my own ideas to the world.
JZ: The staff at Paizo have built a really well thought out world filled with diversity and adventure. The amount of potential wrapped up in the world of Golorian is staggering.
N: You’re working closely with Pathfinder publisher Paizo on the book. What sort of creative directives did they give you?
JZ: Everyone at Paizo and Dynamite has been really supportive. They’ve let me come up with the major character elements and overall plot, but have been really great about offering suggestions and feedback to make sure it properly meshes with their world. Lots of details the fans will enjoy finding.
N: Your comic Skullkickers often pokes fun at fantasy genre tropes and plays around with them. Will this book be more serious in tone, or will you get to play around a bit too, including nods to various tabletop gaming tropes and clichés?
JZ: Pathfinder is definitely a more serious title than Skullkickers. There is some humor in Pathfinder, and I think that having lighter moments at times can creates a fun contrast in the story, but that levity comes from character personality moments rather than the broad-based parody Skullkickers dives head first into. Pathfinder is focused on telling a great fantasy story anyone can enjoy, so we won’t be throwing in gamer “in-jokes” with characters announcing saving throws or any of that kind of thing.
N: Obviously you have a wealth of material as far as Pathfinder is concerned, but what design cues influence your approach to the visual look of the book?
AH: I’m a big fan of the unique designs and concepts that Pathfinder is known for, but I would have to say Wayne Reynolds is the artist I’m paying close attention to. His style is unique and design sense is insane, and his illustrations, in my opinion, define Pathfinder. I make sure to respect his creations while also giving them my own touch.
N: What comics are you reading and enjoying right now?
AH: Comic work is taking up a lot of my free time but when I find the time, Invincible, Guyver: Bio-Booster Armor, and Bloodshot are my top reads at the moment.
JZ: Some of my favorite comic titles right now are Atomic Robo, Locke & Key, The Sixth Gun and Chew. There’s a wonderful cross section of genres and styles in independent comics right now. Lots of inspiring comics to read and enjoy.