With issue #1 selling out across the country comiXology is proud to present the latest hit from Image Comics; Nate Simpson’s Nonplayer. With gorgeous art and masterful storytelling, Nonplayer is quickly becoming one of the most talked about independent comics of 2011. In addition to offering the first issue through the image app, comics app and web store this week, we were also given the chance to ask Nate a few questions about the book and it’s creation. Check out the interview below (the second part of which will be posted soon) than go download the first issue.
comiXology: Thanks for your time Nate, So Nonplayer has been making waves across the internet as issue #1 continues to sell out in local comic book shops across the country. In your own words can you tell us what this series is about?
Nate Simpson: Sure. Nonplayer follows the not-so-spectacular life of Dana Stevens, a tamale delivery girl in the future who spends most of her time inside a full-immersion MMO called “Warriors of Jarvath.” In the real world, she’s a college dropout who still lives with her mom, but inside Jarvath she’s an elite assassin. Unbeknownst to her, the non-player characters within the game have recently achieved sentience, and they’ve realized they don’t like being hunted for sport. When she kills the wife of celebrity game character King Heremoth, she ends up on the receiving end of a major blood vendetta that may or may not be confined to the game.
comiXology: What do you make of all the buzz around this first issue? any chance you could tell us what the past few weeks have been like?
NS: It’s been a wonderful surprise — as you may have guessed from the size of the first print run, we were far from certain it would be well received! I’m especially glad that it seems to have struck a chord with some folks who don’t normally read comics. The medium has limitless potential, but I think there’s been a tendency for publishers to push what’s done well in the past, which in the West usually means men in tights or mopey autobiographical comics. So it’s nice that something that doesn’t fit neatly into either category has found a little audience. I’m very excited to see how comiXology readers respond to the book.
Of course, it’s a whole new challenge to focus on the second issue with so much hype flying around. It’s so tempting to start buying into it, but you still have to go to your studio every morning and face that blank page and ask your muse to come out, which can be tricky with all this commotion going on. I’m having to exercise some pretty extreme internet discipline.
NS: Mostly, I needed to feel like I wasn’t making the whole thing in a vacuum. When you’ve spent your whole life working for other people, it can be a little strange to find yourself boss-less. I sort of turned my blog into a manager — I often found myself apologizing online when I took too long to finish a page, for example. I don’t think anybody who read the blog really cared, but I had to make believe that somebody out there was waiting for each post.
Of course, the blog later proved to have some educational value, as I learned new tricks from commenters who had more experience with digital art-making. And then at some point, after I’d posted the first few finished pages, the blog began to serve a promotional purpose, as well. It ultimately connected me with the people at Image.
comiXology: Now you worked in the gaming prior to dipping your toes into the comic world. What made you want to try your hand at comics in the first place?
NS: I’ve been attempting comics since I was a kid — I’ve tried several times to climb that mountain, but I’ve never had either the preparation or the stamina to make it over the top. This time around, it was a collection of storyboards for Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaa that got me fantasizing about storytelling again. And there were lots of other factors that made it easier to finally get through a project. Having a wife who was willing to support me both emotionally and financially was crucial — this just wouldn’t have happened without her. And I’d also saved up some money from my video game days, which kept us afloat when things got especially tight.
Working in games is great, but I think a lot of game artists wonder what they might accomplish if they didn’t have all of those technical, budgetary, and managerial constraints on their work. The medium of comics allows you to explore the outermost boundaries of your imagination. That’s pretty hard to beat.
comiXology: What was your biggest influence in creating the world of Nonplayer?
NS: Besides Miyazaki, my four biggest art heroes are Moebius, Geof Darrow, William Stout, and Arthur Rackham. Moebius, Rackham, and Stout all do incredible things with visual flow — the way foreground and background elements relate to each other, and the way the eye circulates naturally around a page. There are no dead ends in their drawings. And then there’s the Where’s Waldo-ness of Darrow’s work, which I’ve always loved. I’m nowhere close to any of these guys, but I’m sure they’ve had an effect on the way I think about illustrating a story.
We’ll be back with more from Nate a little later this week as we talk video games and the future of this incredible series. In the meantime go read Nonplayer! available for download today!
Tagged: ComiXology · digital comics · image comics · nate simpson · Non player · warriors of Jarvath
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