SDCC ’18: An Inside Look at Blizzard Publishing

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Senior editor for Blizzard Publishing Cate Gary gave the audience at San Diego Comic Con an inside peak at how publishing works at Blizzard. Panelists included writers Christie Golden (Warcraft: Durotan), Jody Houser (Mother Panic), Mark Evanier (Garfield and Friends), Steve Danuser (Senior Narrative Designer on World of Warcraft) ,and Marv Wolfman (Blade, Crisis on Infinite Earths).

L-R: Cate Gary, Jody Houser, Steve Danuser, Christie Golden, Mark Evanier and Marv Wolfman.

Before Gary gave the audience a look at what was in store over the next few months at Blizzard Publishing, the work of writer Christine Golden was given special consideration. World of Warcraft: Before the Storm builds off of the Legion expansion which was originally released in 2015. Debuting at number nine on the New York Times bestsellers list, it’s one of the best received novels Blizzard has released.

Gary asked Golden what her thoughts were on why the novel has been such a success. Part of the success, Golden says, came from her desire to really look at the leadership styles of the characters. This helped her tell a different kind of story, one that perhaps long time Blizzard readers wouldn’t be expecting. The conflict within the story is interpersonal which gave Golden the chance to dive into character development. The story also goes deeper by relying on more than massive battles to get emotional tone and urgency across. For Golden, that means the characters, stories and audience are all growing up (a good thing!).

Here’s a rundown of what was announced and revealed during the panel:

Starcraft: Scavengers will be available on July 25 from Dark House by Jody Houser. Houser says the character gives us a new point of view and allow those unfamiliar with the Starcraft franchise a good entry point. In order to accomplish this, Houser says we access the story through the lens of someone who is at first an outsider. A farm boy to be exact. This new outsider will join a group of terran space scavengers who team up to pillage a derelict protoss ship, their biggest mission yet.

The second comic discussed  was Windrunner: Three SistersThe comic looks at the reunification of the three Windrunner sisters. The series is available for free to read online right now and according to Gary has been read more than 4 million times. The comic focuses on the perspective of each of the three sisters and like any family, disagreement is bound to happen.

“After returning home to Azeroth, Alleria Windrunner calls upon her estranged siblings—Sylvanas, the warchief of the Horde, and Vereesa, ranger-general of the Silver Covenant—to join her in a quest to retake their ancestral home, Windrunner Spire, from the undead who have overrun the place. On their journey, the three sisters will navigate both the dangers of the present and the ghosts of the past to discover if time and tragedy have divided them irrevocably—or if, despite everything, they are still a family.” -Synopsis via World of Warcraft 

The newly released three issue series called Hearthstone: Dr. Boom will be a silly and fun look at the character of Dr. Boom. Writer Mark Evanier says the comic is filled with comedy and gags and is loosely based of some megalomaniac bosses he’s had in his life. On how to write humor, Evanier says, “Humor’s like a frog, you have to kill it to dissect it. Humor is something you just have to do.”

The comic will follow Dr. Boom and his faithful Mech assistant as they try to (once again) bring the world to its knees. You can read the comic now for free online by following the link here.

The panel closed with the announcement that Marv Wolfman will be writing a special four-issue series based on the Diablo game. This is the first major expansion to the story since 2014. Artwork for the comic comes from Piotr Kowalski, below you’ll find some early preview images. The series is a partnership between Blizzard and Titan Comics. The four-part miniseries will launch in 2018. Of the comic, Wolfman says “If you know the games well, the comic is gonna freak you out a little bit. I’m so surprised we were able to do some of the stuff that we did, I was thrilled.”

As far as I can tell, the only real new bit of material here is the Diablo announcement with Titan Comics. Still it’s always a pleasure to hear from writers about how working within the confines of established can inhibit or help the creative process. By the sounds of it, the folks at Blizzard Publishing are all pretty darn happy with how they work together. There’s a great deal of collaboration, and the openness and willingness to explore new ideas and perspectives appear to be a winning combination with fans and writers alike.

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