Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Death Jr. becomes him: GameSpy chats with Courtney Crumrin creator Ted Naifeh about the upcoming Death Jr. comic book, based on the PlayStation 2 game:

"It's hard to say how much freedom I get. I was picked to do it because my style was perfectly suited to the look and feel of the game. Most of the decisions to bring the look of the comic closer in style to the game are my decisions, such as the color scheme, etc. However, Death Jr. is Backbone's baby, and they hold onto it pretty tightly. I know that sounds a bit oppressive, but let me explain further.

"If I were working on, say, Batman, and I decided to change the costume a bit, I'd have a committee of editors looking at previous comics and saying, 'No, no! We have a brand to service. We've got to maintain brand recognition.' But with Death Jr., it's different. I deal directly with Terri, who's responsible for the look and feel of the game. So if I make changes, she has a look at them and decides if they suit the overall vision. She has a strong personal attachment to the character and reins me in when I get too far away from the original design.

"As an independent comic creator, I find that characters created by committee never have the impact of characters created by a unique vision. It's a danger that every company falls into when trying to develop new brands -- the creation of ideas that try to please everyone and end up pleasing no one. Too many chefs spoil the broth.

"Death Jr. was created along with a whole slew of characters as possible concepts for the next Backbone project. The original sketch of him became the template. He hasn't changed much at all. Terri's job is to be keeper of the vision, so that it doesn't get watered down. I have the utmost respect for her opinions. After all, I wouldn't want someone coming in and redesigning Courtney Crumrin. Without someone like Terri, a character like Death Jr. could end up mutating into a goddamned Care Bear, and no one wants that. It's not about branding … it's about purity of vision."