Part of Panel Discussion’s mission is to look at the ways and places where comics and video games intersect and here in Crossover, we’ll be talking to game creators about the comics stories and creators who’ve shaped their sensibilities.
In our first instalment, we hear from Remedy Entertainment’s Mikki Rautalahti, who — along with the dev studio’s Sam Lake — puts words and ruminations into the head of Alan Wake. Given how the light-wielding writer battles a shadowy evil, you’d figure that Rautalahti would prefer his comics dark and gritty. But Rautalahti enjoys a broad variety of sequential art, including upbeat superheroics from writers like John Byrne and Mark Waid. Here’s the writer describing his likes and dislikes in his own words:
I’m a big fan of the form. Don’t get me wrong, I love video games, but if I had to pick just one of the two, there’s a good chance that in the end, I’d end up with comics. To quote Harvey Pekar, “Comics are words and pictures. You can do anything with words and pictures.”
In general, superhero comics are a kind of a safe bet, no matter what era we’re talking about. I can be picky about which titles I like at any given time, and I do have standards of quality, but it’s a safe bet to assume that a good superhero comic is a thing that I enjoy. I’ll mention a few specific titles below, but whether it’s Mark Waid’s Flash, the Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League or Peter David’s Hulk, chances are I’m game.
This list could be endless, and my problem with something like this is always that I go, “OH GOD I’M LEAVING SOMETHING IMPORTANT OUT,” so I’ve tried to just list things as they pop into my head.
So, some past favourites in no particular order:
• Will Eisner’s Spirit (I love his other work like A Contract With God too, but man, I just love the Spirit).
• Peter Bagge’s Buddy Bradley stuff.
• Joe Matt and Chester Brown
• Love & Rockets
• The work of Hugo Pratt.
• John Byrne’s Fantastic Four
• Usagi Yojimbo
• Mage, Grendel and almost anything by Matt Wagner.
• Transmetropolitan by Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson.
• Like most comics readers of my generation, I grew up on the Chris Claremont/John Byrne era X-Men.
• Cerebus, until the rampant misogyny just got too ridiculous.
• Brian K. Vaughn’s Ex Machina.
• Daredevil by pre-nutcase Frank Miller — the “Born Again” arc in particular.
• Most anything by Alan Moore, for kind of obvious reasons.
• Harvey Pekar’s American Splendor, which is quoted above.
Some current favourites:
• Locke & Key by Joe Hill.
• Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead, of course.
• Mike Carey’s The Unwritten from DC/Vertigo.
• Hark! A Vagrant! by Kate Beaton
• Morning Glories by Nick Spencer (not sure if I really like it, but still).
• Almost anything that Ed Brubaker writes.
I’m not a big fan of:
• The Image stuff from the 1990s. A lot of the ‘90s superhero stuff in general, actually. It just was not a great decade for that kind of material.
• Comics by people who are intent on creating art but don’t understand anything about comics, which generally results in an unreadable mess.
• Mark Millar and Garth Ennis. Preacher? Great fun, until you realise that it’s nowhere near as ironic as you think at first. Stupid shit.