The Witcher Comic: Delving Delving Deeper into the Woods with Rafal Jaki and Nick McWhorter

I catch up with Rafal Jaki from CD Projekt REDa and Nick McWhorter from Dark Horse Comics to get some new insight into the upcoming comic based on The Witcher.

It was announced during New York Comic Con that the revelatory game series, The Witcher, would be receiving the comic book treatment from none other than Dark Horse Comics (Star Wars, Mass Effect).

I caught up with Rafal Jaki, Business Development Manager at CD Projekt RED and Nick McWhorter, Director of Custom Programs at Dark Horse Comics to see what new and exciting things we can expect from the The Witcher comic.

A New Tale

The Witcher is an expansive universe and there are many times and places in the canon where the comics could take place and thrive with a compelling story. “There are many timeframes where Geralt’s whereabouts are not accounted for,” Jaki told me. He went on to say that the events of the comics would unfold prior to the fist game, and within the empty spaces of the short stories (written by Andrzej Sapkowski).

Taking place prior to the games ensures that Geralt’s memory is intact, and as a result readers may see some new sides of his life that they have not yet been privy to. 

“We think of this as something like the Star Wars extended universe,” Jaki said, “we feel that The Witcher world and Geralt as a character is so appealing that we’d like to broaden the audience of that.” As is such, the comics will be their own stand-alone story.

Jaki said there will be connections that can be drawn to the short stories and the books – but Dark Horse and CD Projekt wanted to make it accessible to those just discovering the series, or even people that have no interest in the games at all.

“We try to not assume that everybody knows who Geralt is, who are the Witchers and what’s in the world. So we try to explain it in a way that it’s very soft.” Jaki explained, “we’re trying to soften it up and trying to make it relevant to the story.”

**Seems pleasant enough, right?**

Taking place prior to the games ensures that Geralt’s memory is intact, and as a result readers may see some new sides of his life that they have not yet been privy to. Jaki said the comics are going to focus a lot on the monster hunting aspect of The Witcher, which is a huge part of both the short stories and the video games.

In relation to The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt Jaki says there will be no direct story connection. “The comics are not directly tied to The Witcher 3, they are, however, going to be tied by monsters. You’re going to see some monsters that are only coming to The Witcher 3 and the comic book.” Jaki even said by reading the comics you can get background on some of the monsters that will be making an appearance in W3 that would otherwise remain a mystery to the players.

The Writing

When hearing of an IP expanding into a different medium, there is always an audible groan from the fiercest fans. Will this new addition be a faithful rendition of the style and tempo of the already established universe, or will it demolish out love for a well rounded series a-la Star Wars: Episode One? Well, put your torches and pitchforks down, because it seems like were in good hands in regards to The Witcher.

Eisner Award winning writer Paul Tobin is penning The Witcher comic, which is a great relief as he is apparently very knowledgeable about the lore of The Witcher world.

“He really knows this, he knows this more than any American I know.”

When speaking with Jaki and McWhorter they glowed when Tobin’s name came up. They both said he has a great understanding and respect for the universe of The Witcher, which allowed him to really click with the team when discovering the direction of the comic. “He really knows this, he knows this more than any American I know,” McWhorter chuckled while describing the first story meeting with Tobin, “it was excellent – it led to such a smooth approval process when we were talking about story to have someone who had such an understanding of the world and I think the quality of the book is really showing that.”

**Awe-inspiring screenshot from The Witcher 3.**

“Paul introduced several new characters,” Jaki chuckled, just before lamenting not thinking of them first. “We felt that this [Tobin’s Work] is something that fits in our universe,” Jaki added, “something that fits with CD Projekt and Dark Horse.”

McWhorter added that Tobin’s deep understanding of the source material allowed him to create characters that fit with the established world and would contribute to the world in a meaningful way. He said generally writers that are adapting from another source do not have as much insight into the origin of the lore, so it could be taken as an extreme vote of confidence for the quality and consistency of the upcoming comics.

"You'll always find a twist in our stories, and this is not something we're going to give up."

The Art

On top of the already mountainous amount of talent attached to the comics, Dark Horse has gotten Joe Querio (B.P.R.D) to do the art for The Witcher. McWhorter said Querio’s rendition of monsters is very fitting of The Witcher lore, and it seemed like and easy choice when pairing them up. He explained that Querio’s work on B.P.R.D. and Lobster Johnson made him the perfect choice for The Witcher when getting the partnership off the ground.

Jaki concluded the interview by saying, "You'll always find a twist in our stories, and this is not something we're going to give up.The first issue will be releasing on March 19th, and I think I can speak for every fan of The Witcher when I say I’ll be at my comic store to pick it up.

What has you most excited about The Witcher comic? Is it the brand new story, or a chance to get into the un-fractured mind of Geralt of Rivea? Sound off in the comments down below!

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I am an aspiring video game journalist and a professional awesome person. My words make knowledge parents in your brain that give birth to baby-smiles on your face. You can listen to my podcast by going on iTunes and searching Video Game Podcast Show!

Published Oct. 17th 2013

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