By Josh Hechinger
Welcome to From Strip to Script, where I take a page of finished comic art and try to derive a script from it, to see what I can learn from the exercise.
By the time you read this, I will already be playing the new Metal Gear Solid game. Probably. I have to replay Ground Zeroes first, since my first PS4 was a bum system and wiped the save, it was a whole thing…
Anyway. In a rare bout of ripped-from-the-headlines appropriateness or whatver, I thought we’d take a look at the comic adaption of the first Metal Gear Solid, by Tom B. Long (lettering), Kris Oprisko (writing), Robbie Roberts (also lettering), and Ashley Wood (art), available in a handsome (if hard to fit on a scanner) omnibus edition from IDW.
P1. SNAKE comes around a corner, gun drawn. Overlaid on the panel is a thin sketch showing a wall, with a “ping” (think the motion trackers in Alien/Aliens) on either side. In an insert, MEI LING’S smiling Codec face.
– MEI Look at the radar—it’s picking up the DARPA chief.
– SNAKE Got it. But the door’s locked.
P2. Overhead shot, filling in the overlay sketch from above: SNAKE on one side of the wall, the DARPA CHIEF on the other, in his cell.
– CAMPBELL (codec, no tail) You’ve got to find some way to get in there, Snake. Hurry up and get him out.
P3. SNAKE climbs a ladder into a vent.
– SNAKE Don’t worry, Colonel. I’ll get him.
So, What’d We Learn?
That first panel was a doozy to try and describe, and it was only in the course of doing this piece that I realized “ohh, the gutter on the Mei Ling panel is the HUD map of the next panel”.
At the risk of sounding hippie and/or dippie: the key to adapting something across mediums, especially games to comics, isn’t just the plot, or the character designs, it’s being true to the aesthetic of the original in the absense of being able to translate the experience. It’s about finding ways to translate things like the unnatrually static Codec faces in the first game, or the constant sense of spacial/situational awareness the soliton radar provides, without just aping a screenshot.
Philly-based comic writer Josh Hechinger [joshhechinger.tumblr.com] is a Cancer, and his blood type is nanomachines. You can find him being a loquacious dope on Twitter, and read his comic collaborations on Comixology.