San Diego Comic-Con 2012 ShiftyLook Panel
by Carlo Santos,
ShiftyLook, the webcomic site based on Bandai Namco's lineup of retro games, offered fans a look at their current and upcoming projects.
Head of Marketing Cory Casoni introduced the panelists, consisting of webcomic creators Scott Kurtz, Kris Straub, Dax Gordine, Matt Moylan, voice actor Rob Paulsen, and ShiftyLook's producer and editor-in-chief Rob Pereyda.
Rob Pereyda explained that ShiftyLook is about "digging up 8-bit and 16-bit treasure" and creating games, comics, animation, and other media based on retro gaming properties. With a "battle cry" that states "No character is too obscure / No franchise is too dead / No husk is too decrepit," Pereyda said that even little-known or poorly-reviewed games are being revived as seeds of creative potential.
The site's current webcomic line up consists of titles like Bravoman, Dig Dug, Xevious, Sky Kid, Valkyrie, and others. As an example of game-to-comic adaptation, in Bravoman, the character is an egocentric hero with only two "powers"—a premise that sets the tone for various action-comedy scrapes. The Bravoman webcomic is written by Matt Moylan and illustrated by Dax Gordine, with Udon Entertainment in charge of production.
A Dig Dug webcomic was also recently launched in commemoration of the game's 30th anniversary. The current Dig Dug run is an anthology of sorts, with various webcomic artists including Kris Straub, Scott Kurtz, Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik, and others riffing on the theme of digging underground while avoiding or defeating monsters.
Casoni announced that will ShiftyLook will also begin running animated series on the site, beginning with a series based on 2-D platformer Mappy, where a mouse cop chases criminal cats through a museum. Scott Kurtz and Kris Straub will be working on the webseries beginning in late 2012, which will also come with a companion webcomic. Kurtz explained that the game appealed to him because of "Mappy jumping on trampolines," as well as Kurtz's own hatred of cats. Even in the middle of the panel, Kurtz and Straub were having fun discussing potential Mappy ideas amongst each other.
Other new webcomic announcements include Golly! Ghost, written and illustrated by Chris "Elio" Eliopoulos, and based on the light-gun shooter game where the player must defeat ghosts in a haunted house. Readers can also look forward to a Dragon Spirit webcomic, based on the fiendishly difficult vertical scrolling shooter. The game's fantasy storyline involves a warrior transformed into a flying dragon, who fights to rescue a kidnapped princess. In the webcomic, written by Jim Zub and drawn by Steven Cummings, Zub hopes to upend these fantasy cliches and create a new, surprising story.
Renowned voice actor Rob Paulsen (Transformers. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Animaniacs) also introduced the project that he will be working on: a Bravoman animated web series starting in 2013. Although Paulsen admits to being "not a big gamer," his son got him into video games, and now he sees the Bravoman webseries as a "new, uncharted territory" for him to get into. Paulsen also got some good laughs out of the audience by trying out a few prototype voices of what Bravoman might sound like. He further entertained attendees by recounting a story of how he met Star Trek's George Takei (complete with voice impressions), and singing the legendary "Nations of the World" song from Animaniacs.
After that, Udon Entertainment's editor-in-chief Erik Ko (and also co-writer of the Wonder Momo comic on ShiftyLook) announced that manga-ka Hitoshi Ariga (Big O, Megaman Megamix) will be illustrating a new ShiftyLook webcomic based on the "dream-hopping" adventure game Klonoa. Jim Zub will write the story, while Udon will supervise overall production.