Interview: Gail Simone: New Lara's New Adventures

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From Newsarama

Gail Simone: TOMB RAIDER - New Lara's New Adventures

http://i.newsarama.com/images/i/000/121/846/original/Tomb-Raider-4.jpg?1390331974

Tomb Raider Cover - CREDIT: Dark Horse

The "Definitive Edition" of the critic and fan-lauded Tomb Raider reboot hits stores on January 28th, so players with next gen systems can experience the new adventures of Lara Croft. She's younger, more impulsive, and in more trouble than ever before - but she also kicks even more ass.

For fans wanting the next chapter of this new version of the Tomb Raider world, they don't have to wait too long. Scheduled for a February 26, 2014 release, Tomb Raider #1 by Gail Simone and Nicolás Daniel Selma takes place in the same world as the game, with complete approval of the development team. Picking up the action shortly after the game's ending, the series will help bridge the gap until the sequel is ready to hit video game systems.

For more on the series, why Simone is drawn to Lara Croft, and what fans need to know to get in, we talked with the writer.

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Tomb Raider #1 Interior page - CREDIT: Dark Horse

Newsarama: Gail, now that the series is only a month away and you've been writing, has your approach to the series or character changed at all from your initial impressions? What has surprised you about Lara and Tomb Raider so far?

Gail Simone: I have two Lara Crofts in my head, actually. There's the Lara in the recent game, whom I adored, who feels fear and guilt and anxiety and pain and regret very acutely, who is just learning how to turn the world to her will.

And then there's a Lara I believe she will become, something even more formidable. For me, it's a blast writing that first Lara, knowing that second one is in there waiting to come out. We see flashes of it right away, but this is still very much LARA CROFT: YEAR ONE, and that makes me happy.

Nrama: This is a direct follow-up to the Tomb Raider video game reboot from last year. For those that haven't played the game or are waiting for the Ultimate Edition on next-gen consoles in the next week here, what do they absolutely need to know when picking up Tomb Raider #1?

Simone: Good question! Let's see...Lara's parents are missing and presumed dead, and Lara survived a shipwreck during an expedition to find a lost island. That's it, really, it's nothing like the daunting amount of backstory in most superhero books. Lara in the game and the comic is at the very beginning of her journey, so she is both the hero and the point-of-view character. We experience the weirdness and danger with her, not as an observer.

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Tomb Raider Cover - CREDIT: Dark Horse

Nrama: With the series taking place (at least at first here) directly between two games – how much is Square Enix involved, and how does that change your approach to the story?

Simone: It's a team effort, they want the best possible story that doesn't damage the character they care so much about. And they have made it very clear that they want my input on some writerly things, motivations and character.

Nrama: There have been several attempts at video game comics – what works in the translation, and what are some things you specifically want to avoid?

Simone: I have read a few where I felt alienated, because they traded good storytelling for accuracy to the game. You still need character, you still need plot. No one cares who invented the space gun your character uses if the character him/herself is uninteresting. If I wanted to play a game, I'd play the game. Readers want a story.

Lara is sort of built in with a compelling nature, that helps a lot.

Nrama: Spinning off of that question, as an avid gamer yourself, how do you compare storytelling overall between the video game and comic book mediums? What appeals to you in each format?

Simone: I have done a couple things with video game companies, and the non-linear nature of the games I worked on was fascinating and a little bit difficult for me to grasp at times. But what I love is that it's become clear these games need writers. Great graphics are not enough anymore, players want a decent story, they mock bad dialog. They have taste, and they have high expectations. Games like Tomb Raider and The Last of Us should be a signal to other companies that the stories need as much attention as the gameplay.

http://i.newsarama.com/images/i/000/119/236/original/TombRaider_2.jpg?1386797545

CREDIT: Dark Horse Comics

Nrama: Diving into the story itself, what is Lara's next adventure, and what's driving her to continue exploring after the events of the game?

Simone: Sometimes a man follows a storm, sometimes the storm follows the man.

Lara is adjusting to what happened to her on the island, and she finds gaps in her memory, gaps that people would kill for her to remember.

Nrama: What other characters will we be seeing join Lara here? Are you getting to add anyone new to the mythos?

Simone: There are a couple new characters and some favorites, but I can't say more than that. But Sam's there, for sure. Dang!

Nrama: What makes Lara Croft unique from other explorers/adventures out there?

Simone: I think this Lara is a hero who bleeds and has doubts and fear, which makes her willingness to do these feats even more terrifying and heroic. She's not the biggest adventurer, she's not the fastest, she's the one that gets back up when you knock her down.

Nrama: Finally, Gail, do you have any last teases or a particular moment from the first issue or two that you're especially excited for fans to see?

Simone: Well, Lara is briefly in America for a change...that's good fun.

I hope people give this a try – I'm excited about it. Lara Croft is one of those great characters, like Wonder Woman and Red Sonja, who inspired dozens of characters to follow, to try to match that particular mix of chemistry that makes a superstar. I am delighted to write her adventures.

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Very interesting! Can't wait!

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#3  Edited By animehunter

Gail Simone Aims High with "Completely Badass" "Tomb Raider"

http://www.comicbookresources.com/imgsrv/imglib/0/0/1/TR-5-FC-FNL-4b0b7.jpg

EXCLUSIVE: The cover for "Tomb Raider" #5, illustrated by TR senior art director Brian Horton

With years of history and multiple interpretations across a variety of media, Lara Croft has a fair amount in common with classic comic book characters like Batgirl, Wonder Woman and Deadpool.

And as of this month, the adventure-having archeologist can add one more similarity to the list: She'll also be written by Gail Simone in an ongoing series, the new "Tomb Raider" book from Dark Horse Comics, illustrated by Nicolás Daniel Selma. For Simone, a self-professed avid gamer, it's a chance -- much like several of her past high-profile projects -- to write a character she loves. Eschewing any potential snobbery towards comic book adaptations of video games, Simone told CBR News that she feels fortunate to be working on a series inspired by the long-running and influential franchise, and its "completely badass" lead character.

"Tomb Raider" isn't new to comics, but this series is set in the continuity of the massively successful 2013 reboot game, and acts as the official continuation of that story -- Simone has been working closely with the game's writer, Rhianna Pratchett, and the development team at Square Enix.

CBR News: Gail, you've made your enthusiasm for "Tomb Raider" clear, specifically the most recent video game. As a devoted gamer, what was it about the latest installment that caught your attention -- and convinced you it would work as a comic book?

Gail Simone: I do love video games, I am an avid gamer. But because I have a brutal writing and travel schedule, I often am more of a starter, than a finisher. Playing the new "Tomb Raider" game, I was immediately sucked in. The writing, the gameplay, the graphics, I just felt transported. I played it all the way through on the Xbox 360, went back and got all the collectibles, and then bought the game again for the PS4 and am having a great time my second time through. Me, I like the bow, and I go for headshots. The guns are for when I run out of arrows, I say.

One of the joys of this job for me has been the opportunity to turn my daydreams into stories featuring characters I love. Whether it's "The Simpsons," or "Batgirl," or "Deadpool," I really get tremendous joy out of trying to share that affection for the characters with readers. I like to try to bring the reader into the experience, to try to show something they don't know about these iconic figures.

Lara Croft belongs in that very special group of archetypes that are imitated endlessly, but never quite equaled. It's a pleasure to write her; she's just completely badass.

With any project like this, I imagine there's a balancing act between satisfying the hardcore fans of the existing property, and also keeping things accessible for people who may not have ever played one of the games, but are interested because of the creative team or simply because it looks cool on the shelf. How are you approaching that aspect?

The hardcore fan wants the same thing any reader wants -- they want a ripping good story that's told with sincerity and respect. We as an industry seem terrified of the serious reader, and I don't really get that. They're just passionate, is all.

I feel that because we are at such an early point in Lara's history, there isn't quite the crushing weight of backstory that might alienate casual readers.

At the same time, I'm blessed enough to have the game's writers and developers available to answer any questions, and they've been incredibly supportive. Rhianna Pratchett, the brilliant writer of the game, has given me tremendous little snippets that hint at wonderful things to come.

Nicolás Daniel Selma is on art -- I know he has prior "Tomb Raider" experience, but he's likely an unfamiliar name to most fans right now. What can you say about collaborating with him thus far, and how he's been able to bring this world to the page?

Nicolas is a delight to work with, and he's got that very wonderful line, he draws with an animator's eye, so everything feels like a perfectly chosen moment to convey character and action. Additionally, he's fantastic at setting, which is more essential in this book than any other comic I have ever worked on. We're lucky to have him.

From Barbara Gordon to Wonder Woman to Red Sonja to Deadpool, you've written quite a few unique and colorful protagonists. What makes Lara Croft interesting to you? What are you able to say telling her stories that you might not have had the opportunity to do in other comics?

The thing I love best about working in the DC and Marvel universes is the shared continuity -- I am wild for that tapestry, and making connections, the more obscure the better.

Tomb Raider is the opposite -- Lara has some friends, but when she goes to do her thing, she goes alone, without backup, without support. There's a scene in the game where she climbs a radio tower, and it's strikingly suspenseful and beautiful, and it feels like she's the only person in the world except a disembodied voice on the radio. Those themes of isolation and self-reliance in the face of impossible tasks fit her beautifully.

What was the process like of developing the story for this series? How much consideration is given to the notion of telling a Lara Croft story that takes specific advantage of the comic book medium?

Quite a lot, the differences in medium are subtle and very interesting. In the game, there is a hyper-realism to the graphics that is quite different from comics, yet she can get shot 50 times and wait a bit, and be fine. I can't do that in the comic. I can't kill her and hit reset. The needs are different and fascinating.

Also, 12 issues of her crawling around on an island, I don't think that would translate. So we are telling a wider adventure with more settings, and some good hot familiar stuff for those paying attention!

I'm having a blast.

A major part of the series appears to be an element of globe-trotting, likely both real and fictional venues. Can you share some of the locales readers will see? And have you based any of it from your own experiences traveling the world appearing at conventions?

Absolutely -- Lara will be in several different countries in the first 12 issues, and I've enlisted a bunch of local friends in each one so that I don't end up embarrassing myself too much (I hope!). We don't want to give away too much, but Lara definitely has a pint of Guinness at one point.

"Tomb Raider" is billed as an ongoing series -- are you making fairly long-term plans with the story?

Yeah, there are some surprises coming that I am excited about. It's fun to work so closely with the game designers, there is quite a bit of back and forth, and they have been very interested to hear my thoughts on the characters and their motivations. I feel like part of something wonderful in that way.

The first time I played TR as a kid, I was just stunned -- it was an adventure game where the lead was female, and did all the asskicking, and the risk-taking. It meant a lot to me, and it changed the landscape to a degree, it shifted the ground.

I just feel fortunate. Got a little choked up there for a second, sorry.

For people only peripherally familiar with the property, there may be some sense of skepticism about a "Tomb Raider" comic book -- both due to preconceived notion about the franchise, and the viability of video game-based comic books in general. What would you say in response to such a theoretical person?

I would guess that this theoretical person might not really be following either medium that closely, I guess. Some comic adaptations of video games have been massive, tremendous hits, written and drawn by some of the best in the industry. And they often bring in people who otherwise don't read comics.

And when the game wanted to give important backstory for the characters, they chose to do it in comics form, not animation or prose. The new Definitive edition has the "Tomb Raider: The Beginning" graphic novel included right on the disc, selectable from the main menu.

In this case, I literally am talking to the people making the game several times a week, I am throwing ideas back and forth with the upcoming sequel's writer. You just can't get more authentic than that.

It's Lara freaking Croft. I owe it to her to get it right, you know?

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#4  Edited By Crom-Cruach

Played the new game read the old Top Cow minis, which weren't that bad. Likely not going to pick up that thought.

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