By Rodney Ford 4-08-07
Devils Due has done an excellent job of bringing some of the coolest fantasy novels to a comic book and graphic novel formats. Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman’s Dragonlance chronicles. R.A. Salvatore’s Demon Wars and Forgotten Realms, specifically the legend of Drizzt, books 1-5.
Comic Addiction: First off I’d like to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk with me and our readers. Can you tell us how you became a comic book writer?
Andrew Dabb: No problem, Rod. As far as how I became a comic book writer, really I’ve just always loved the medium. Comics are the one place you can let you imagination run wild and tell all sorts of visual stories, from small character pieces to epic adventures. The possibilities are literally endless. That and I don’t have the attention span to write novels.
CA: How did you end up working for Devils Due?
AD: The first books I did through Devil’s due were MEGACITY909 and MU which were actually published by a Korean company called Studio Ice, and distributed by DDP in the U.S. Because of that connection, I got to know Josh Blaylock, Mark Powers, and the rest of the Devil’s Due staff, which lead to them asking me to work on the Dungeons and Dragons license and, eventually, play around with GI Joe a bit too.
CA: You have written the scripts for quit a few comics that are based off of novels. Have you read the Dragonlance Chronicles or any of R.A. Salvatore’s novels?
AD: Oh, yeah. I’ve been reading the Dragonlance and Drizzt novels since I was…man, in elementary school. I’m a huge fan of the books, which definitely helps in adapting them into comics.
CA: How do you go about making a comic book adaptation of a novel?
AD: First I re-read the novel, marking any bit of plot of dialogue that’s important to the story, then I figure out how it’ll all fit into three comic books (usually trying to squeeze in 100-200 novel pages per issue). Once that outline has been okayed, I start scripting. The real trick is just identifying what has to stay, what can go, and what can be shortened. With these comics, we’re not trying to do a word-for-word adaptation, but rather sort of re-tell the stories in a very visual way. It’s one thing to read about 2,000 dwarves fighting an evil army, it’s another thing to actually see it. Allowing readers to do that is the comic book medium’s biggest strength, and so that’s what we’re trying to play up.
CA: Did wizards of the coast or Devils Due have any guide lines you had to follow?
AD: Well, obviously there’s a plot already in place, so I can’t stray too far from the original novel. But beyond that, there are just a few basic things (number of pages, etc…) that I’m expected to stick to.
CA: You have worked with a variety of artists on these books, how closely do you work with the colorists, letterers, inkers and pencillers?
AD: I’m always available to answer questions, but I don’t look over their shoulders too much. I’m a big believer in getting the right person for the job, and then letting them do the work. Besides, they already have to deal with the editor and Wizards of the Coast, who are much tougher bosses than I’ll ever be.
CA: When writing the scripts do you leave any notes as to how a scene should look or do you leave that up to the penciller?
AD: I script out what I see in my head, but I’m not averse to the artists taking some liberties, especially in action sequences. I try to provide enough panel description that everyone knows what’s going on, without drowning the artist in a lot of minutiae. I work with great people, and I trust them. So far it’s worked out well.
CA: I know a lot of Dragonlance fans love the LEGENDS series above the
rest. Are there any plans for an adaptation of the trilogy?
AD: As far as I know nothing’s set in stone. But as long as the adaptations
keep selling, I can’t imagine Devil’s Due will stop. And after
Chronicles, Legends is the next logical choice, so…
CA: The comic industry in general seems to be shifting there focus from artists to writers. What do you think of this trend?
AD: I think its fine, but not a major shift in the industry or anything. Creators have always ruled and right now, for whatever reason, you see more writers out there creating than artists (with some exceptions, like Darwyn Cooke). Mostly because writers can work on 3-4 books a month, while artists are pretty much limited to one. But I’m sure the pendulum will swing back eventually, that’s just the nature of these things.
CA: Are there any comics you enjoy reading in your free time?
AD: Too many: Wake, Fables, Ultimate Fantastic Four, Punisher, Stray Bullets, Conan, Authority, Wild CATS, Deathblow, Wasteland, Hack/Slash, Hellblazer, GI Joe, Ultimates, Negative Burn, that’s what I can remember off the top of my head. The true numbers is probably double or triple that.
CA: If you had a chance to write your favorite character or title what would it be?
AD: I don’t really have a favorite character I’m longing to write. I like working on my own things above all else. But it would be fun to write for Spider-Man (obviously) or John Constantine. I also have a weird affection for the Wildstorm Universe; I’d like to play around in it one of these days.
CA: What personal projects are you working on? Can you tell us about the
DESCENT graphic novel?
AD: DESCENT is a story I’ve been working on with artist Erech Overaker for
about three years now. It’s got creeping insanity, crazy homeless
people, eerie prophecies, and, of course, murder. Obviously it’s a big
departure from elves and action figures, but it’s good to stretch every
once in awhile.
CA: When will Descent be released and will DDP be publishing the book?
AD: We haven’t decided on a publisher for DESCENT yet, but I’m expecting it
to be out around the end of the year.
CA: What else do you have coming out in 2007? From Devils Due or other projects?
AD: Hmm, let’s see, there’s quite a bit in the planning stages right now, but here’s what I know for sure: A lot more Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms, probably a GI Joe project later this year, more Atomika from Mercury Comics and I’m contributing a few short stories to Negative Burn as well. It should be a good year.