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Bungie Weekly Update: Special Quit Yer Bitchin' Edition
March 17th, 2006

OK, so we often literally don't have any news to update you with. That's just the harsh reality of working on a game, and to the same extent, a "secret project." But today, we actually have something sort of useful.

Presenting the Halo Graphic Novel, which from now on shall be known as the HGN.  If you're a Halo fiction fan AND a comic book fan, then this might just be the mother lode. Before we get into the how and the why, let's give you a breakdown of the what.

The HGN is a 128 page, full color, high quality hardcover graphic novel, featuring an anthology of original stories, including one big story, and three shorter tales. Side stories, if you will. It should be available in July, 2006.

Now this thing was a Bungie-produced, conceived and nurtured book, but we don't make comic books, we make games. So it only made sense that we went after our favorite comic book artists and writers. And we're not kidding when we tell you that we basically secured, exactly, our first choice picks to paint, draw, letter and write this incredible book. These are our story artists and writers, in no particular order.

And those are just the folks who worked on the stories. We also have another treat in the HGN. A collection of original gallery pieces created by more of our comic book and art heroes, as well as some of Bungie's own artists. Picture if you will, some of your favorite Halo creatures, moments, vehicles ad characters, re-imagined by some of the most talented people on Earth (and also by me, one of the least talented people on Earth).

Those artists include:

Doug Alexander
Rick Berry
Geof Darrow
Scott Fischer
Sterling Hundley
Craig Mullins
Tsutomu Nihei
George Pratt
Juan Ramirez
George Staples
Justin Sweet
John Van Fleet
Kent Williams

And from Bungie…

Christopher Barrett
Frank Capezutto
Tom Doyle
Isaac Hannaford
Lorraine McLees
Robert McLees
Frank O'Connor
Paul Russel
Eddie Smith


The project actually started about a year and a half ago. Bungie artist Lorraine McLees' passion for the graphic novel medium, and her contacts from the industry led to us getting a budget together, sourcing the writers and artists and creating the initial premises for the stories. Once we'd done that, we set off an inexorable chain reaction of talent, and the treatments, samples and eventually, the finished panels started rolling in.

Oddly enough, we got more than three quarters of the way through the project before we secured the coolest publisher in the business. Marvel. ('Nuff said.) This isn't the normal mode of production, but the folks at Marvel shared our excitement for both the Halo universe, and the brilliant team of creative types we'd already assembled. A deal was signed and we're basically handing off the completed book as a faits accomplis, but using Marvel's guidance and expertise to take it from the (literal) drawing board to the bookstore shelves.

This would also be a fine moment to give special thanks to Alicia in our IP department for getting the deal done with the home of Stan Lee. In the end, my theory that Namor: The Sub-Mariner could take Aquaman in a fight had nothing to do with anything. You'd be amazed how many of my awesome ideas get ignored.

Only a few pages remain to be completed at this time, and there are lots of little odds and ends that take time - final lettering, color corrections, occasional visual edits, but sitting in front of us right now is a 95% complete version of the book. And it's a doozie. Titles of the stories may change, but pretty much everything is in place.

Just about every staff member has a favorite artist who shows up in this HGN. My own personal hero in here, is Simon Bisley, whose Slaine artwork from 2000ad comic pretty much inspired my whole life. It's the main reason I wear a loincloth and a hero-harness, so to have this legendary artist working on our stories, our universe, was a rare honor. And as I mentioned before, each artist in the collection inspired that kind of fanboyism, from Moebius to Darrow, from Hale to Fischer. Each artist, somebody's childhood (or contemporary) hero.

And uh, not to toot my own horn, but there's a Mister Chief hidden in this book somewhere too. Some say, the greatest Mister Chief ever conceived. Others say, every bit as crap as every other Mister Chief. Oh, and I also tricked some of our community members into "sending" letters to the HGN before it was even announced.

Robt McLees, who did much of the planning, editing and structuring of the stories, pointed out that Nihei is possibly his favorite, a) Because he signed Robt's  Nihei artbook AND bought some stuff he was auctioning for charity for $1000!

Lorraine, recovering on maternity leave, probably wants to point out that I'm her favorite artist because my brushstrokes so eloquently capture the morass of modern existence and delicately phrase the anguished wails of a gentle soul, trapped in the maelstrom of trite consumerism. Probably that's what she's thinking. Unless she's thinking about legendary comic book pioneer Moebius. I guess that's possible...

So here, without further ado, is a sneak peek at what to expect from the Halo Graphic Novel.

Halo Graphic Novel Cover

The cover is by mega-crayon-meister Phil Hale. This is a preliminary treatment and the final cover may vary. Phil Hale's elegant, dramatic pose of the Master Chief shows him leaping backwards through the air, while taking out an unseen opponent. An understated mixture of tension and movement.


The Last Voyage of the Infinite Succor
Art by Simon Bisley
Story by Lee Hammock

When communications from a Covenant agricultural support ship are mysteriously terminated, an Elite Commander and his squad of Special Forces are sent to investigate. What they find is a peril more deadly and terrifying than any Human threat.

- The brilliant, almost gaudy palette of Simon Bisley makes the perfect setting for an Elite incursion into a Flood infested agricultural ship.


Armor Testing
Pencils by Andrew Robinson
Colors by Ed Lee
Story by Jay Faerber

The only way to test Spartan armor, is to send a Spartan. The question is what's really being tested? The power of the Mjolnir Mark VI battle armor, or the mettle of the ODSTs trying to find its weaknesses?

- Ed Lee's dynamic, anime-inspired iteration of the Spartan armor makes for a refreshing take on the hardcases and hardware of the Halo universe.


Breaking Quarantine
Art and story by Tsutomu Nihei

One of the untold tales from Halo is Sergeant Johnson's escape from the clutches of the Flood menace. Now's the time to reveal how the UNSC's toughest marine got out of an inescapable trap.

- Tstutomo Nihei's vision of Sgt Johnson is visceral, rich with tone and color and perfectly captures the brooding menace of the Flood.


Second Sunrise Over New Mombasa
Art by Jean "Moebius" Giraud
Story by Brett Lewis

Fighting a war isn't just shipping men and machines to distant worlds. There are subtler, more dangerous fights taking place on the streets of New Mombasa, and in the hearts and minds of men.

- Legendary artist Moebius takes an intriguing look at the bright lights and big city of a pre-invasion New Mombasa and does so with typical Moebius flair and imagination.

So that's all we can tell you about the HGN right now. Make sure you click on the sample shots to see them in better detail, and we're sure we'll reveal a couple more pages before the HGN ships.

You will all be pleased to know that our new AI engineer Max, who we interviewed last week, was accosted by the Visual Studio team and shown how to make his development environment even better. Some ingenious developer has managed to integrate vim with Visual Studio, giving Max the best of both worlds! Basically, it's all a series of bleeps and whistles to me, but Max is psyched.

You will also be pleased to hear that we will (finally) have a release date for the Halo 2 Soundtrack, Vol. 2, next week. That's when we announce the release date. And I'm told it's not too far away. And remember, like anything bad in the world, famine, poverty, Katherine Harris' smile etc., it's all Marty's fault.

And finally a guest Mister Chief from our very own agdTinMan, who was inspired by today's comic book theme.