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How to Read the Story

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About the Story

Just What Is It?

Well, it's a - whattayacallit - Comic book? Graphic novel? Manga? Whichever you prefer - based on the game trilogy Marathon from Bungie Software (now Bungie Studios, a divison of Microsoft.)

Wait, It's Fan Fiction/Art?

Well, I'm a little embarassed to admit it, but...yes, it is. I know, I've joined the Dark Side, but it's a way for me to improve my drawing and writing skills, so it serves a purpose for me. And I promise to do my best to make this project a good one - I know how bad fan fiction can get.

What's Marathon?

Marathon was unusual in that it was one of the first first-person perspective shooters for the Macintosh, and one of the first for any system that had an actual plot. As you would play, you would encounter "computer terminals" - giving a variety of information, some of it more helpful than others. The style of writing, while admittedly haphazard, created a strong sense of mood and depth.

So You Didn't Think Up the Plot Yourself?

Nope, that's why it's called fan fiction. It's based on a story from Jason Jones and Greg Kirkpatrick, and art by Reginald Dujour.

That's not all; I also owe a debt to Hamish Sinclair and all the people (including me) who've contributed to his "Marathon's Story" web page. That page, still active today, is devoted to delving into the Marathon back-story far more than was originally intended, providing a treasure trove of information and ideas for me to, ah, borrow.

I also drew inspiration from Craig Mullins's chapter screens, and his cheerful reinterpretation of the game characters. If he could draw the Marine with a Pfhor stick when you can't do it in the game, so can I.

So What Are You Actually Responsible For?

This story may be based on the game, but it's not a direct copy - pretty much all of the characters and most of the interpretations of events are my own. A comic based directly on a 3D game would be dull, anyway. ("Move, move, shoot, shoot, flip switch, move, shoot, etc.") The path the story follows may not unfold exactly as it did in the original game, but the eventual destination is more or less the same.

Will Bungie or Microsoft Sue?

I hope not! Seeing as Bungie generally allows and even encourages fan creations, I think I'm fine so long as I don't go selling this or anything stupid like that. Still, pay good attention to the disclaimer and notice at the bottom of the page...

How Do You Make It?

The storyline, like any story I create, is continually rewriting itself in the back of my mind. Once I've nudged the ideas into a more-or-less final form, I start sketching page layouts. Once I've got a good layout, I sit and draw the page - one page a sitting; less than that and I don't finish, more than that and I get bored and sloppy. I use ordinary Ticonderoga #2 pencils on ordinary printer paper (folded in half), then ink the lines using Pilot pens (P-700 normally, P-500 for fine lines). Then I go use the University scanner and grab the image at 600 dpi. I'm only using Photoshop 3.0, but it's amazing how much even an hour of work can improve the image - by removing stray lines, adding smooth gradients and straight panel borders, and, finally, the text. (The font is Dupuy, if you're interested.) The final result is saved in two copies - the original depth for printing, and a 72 dpi JPEG for the webpage.

I'm considering moving to more complicated multiple layer compositing, where I draw the background and foreground on separate sheets of paper. I'm also considering practicing my handwriting so I can do the word balloons by hand, but don't bet on that one.

Any Inspirations You Want to Credit?

Heck, I've probably drawn inspiration from just about anything I've ever seen or read - all those ideas are in my head somewhere, getting jostled about, and sometimes they come out in my work. Inspiration, graphic story wise, has come from such diverse talents as Masamune Shirow, who, while his excellent graphic novels make me wish I could do half as good, still insists that he's not that good an artist; Scott McCloud, Comics Genius, who insists that anyone can break into comics with no more than a pen, a sheet of paper, and a photocopier (or a scanner, computer, graphics program, and a web site.); and Pete Abrams, who every day proves that it can, indeed, be done.

How Do I Contact You?

You can e-mail me here to send comments, questions, criticisms, etc. Please be nice.



Page content Copyright 2001, William Spencer.
This material is unofficial and is not endorsed by Bungie Software. Marathon is a trademark of Bungie; all rights are reserved by them.