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Alec Robbins and Kit Wallis talk expanding 'High on Life' into brand-new comic
Titan

Comic Books

Alec Robbins and Kit Wallis talk expanding ‘High on Life’ into brand-new comic

‘High on Life’ may be a comic, but the insanity remains the same.

This summer, the comedy first-person shooter High on Life is finding new life as a comic via Titan Comics. Launching its first issue on June 12, the game’s narrative director, Alec Robbins, is writing the series alongside artist Kit Wallis. Together, they aim to fill in the blanks between the main game and the DLC (“High on Knife,” get it?)…and still make you laugh.

The new comics series focuses on the unnamed protagonist Bounty Hunter who, having “restored peace to the cosmos by killing Garmantuous,” must now face a brutal new threat to humankind. Armed with a talking gun named Harper, as well as  the rest of the Gatlian gang, the Bounty Hunter will embark on an explosive adventure across the cosmos.

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To get some keen insights into what’s in store, as well as a sense of what’s the difference between writing a video game and a omic, I spoke with both Robbins and Wallis all about this zany sci-fi romp. Let the hijinks commence!

Alec Robbins and Kit Wallis new comic 'High on Life' expanding on the hit game

Courtesy of Titan Comics.

AIPT: For fans of the game, when does this take place, and is it in canon?

Alec Robbins: The comic is 100% canon to the game, and it takes place between the end of the main story and before the beginning of the DLC, “High On Knife.” We introduced a new Gatlian in the DLC, Harper, and the comic was the perfect opportunity to flesh her out more. I also really wanted to give some more focus to the character Creature, who has always been my favorite to write. You get him pretty late in the game so I felt like giving him some extra time to shine here.

AIPT: Did you find writing for a comic different from writing for a video game? How are they different?

AR: Writing a comic is a million times easier than writing a game. Game-writing tends to be three-dimensional in the sense that you’re trying to write around any multitude of choices the player might make. Meanwhile, a comic is a purely linear story where we have more control over how the reader is getting the story. It’s a lot easier to make something funny when you have more control over it.

There also weren’t too many scenes where the Gatlians all hung out and talked to each other in the game – that’s another luxury the comic afforded. The only truly rocky part to adapt was how to portray the silent-protagonist player-character, but even that was easier than writing a bunch of dialogue choices for one mission of the game. I treated writing the comic like a vacation where I got to let loose a little bit in the game’s world and take back some of that control.

Alec Robbins and Kit Wallis new comic 'High on Life' expanding on the hit game

Courtesy of Titan Comics.

AIPT: When it comes to the two talking guns, do they have different personalities and avenues for comedy?

AR: Each of the Gatlians were designed to have their own unique take on the world — in the game, that manifests as the player getting to choose which type of buddy to hang out with or speak for them in dialogue. There we also have the benefit of hearing the talented voice actors portray them — Harper is voiced by Sarah Sherman in game and Creature is voiced by Tim Robinson.

The comic has to survive without those great talents, but if you’ve played the game you’ll probably still hear those voices in their heads. Once we cast each gun, it usually informed how we wrote them. That didn’t stop while writing the comic, although I did write Creature in the same all-lowercase comedic style I wrote another of my comics, Mr. Boop, in.

AIPT: Since you’ve got talking weapons in this series, are you familiar with Barbaric, a Vault Comics series with a talking axe?

AR: I haven’t! I’m a huge comics guy but I read almost exclusively manga and esoteric Western indie comics you need to buy from super small presses or direct from someone’s personal webstore off Twitter. I’m glad someone else is doing talking-weapon comics, though! Knifey would like this one.

Alec Robbins and Kit Wallis new comic 'High on Life' expanding on the hit game

Courtesy of Titan Comics.

AIPT: Alec, was there a specific panel or page that Kit blew you away. And, Kit, any favorite moments in the first issue?

Kit Wallis: My favorite part of issue one was probably the first few pages, It’s a crazy fun little intro, and I got to design the character Vardagan, which was fun and a nice way to get into the book as a whole. Not being as familiar with the characters and environments as Alec, I did a lot of research on my own, which was also fun! I normally colour my own work too so it was cool to see how JP Jordan tackled my scribbles. And I’d read some of Alec’s stuff from Mr. Boop, so I knew he was a sound fella!

AR: I love Kit’s art!! There’s a fantastic page where the villain reveal happens and it looks so perfect. I was really happy with that. There’s also a fantastic bit where someone’s head explodes and I thought Kit portrayed it really cleanly, with great comedic timing. But overall the entire comic looks amazing, we’re really lucky to have Kit and our colorist, JP Jordan.

Alec Robbins and Kit Wallis new comic 'High on Life' expanding on the hit game

Courtesy of Titan Comics.

AIPT: If High On Life was a song, what would it be and why?

AR: It actually started out as a song before we realized it would work better as a game and comic. We told Titan, “We’d love to make a High On Life song” and they said “we only make comic books” and we said “No. You need to make songs now.” And they said, “Can we please just do a comic” and we agreed. We gave in because their argument was so good, and now we have a beautiful comic book.

AIPT: Where do you start when it comes to creature design? 

KW: With the design of any of the creatures, it all stems from what has been designed already, so I was basically trying to emulate that design style with anything I do, also trying to inject a bit of my own style in there too. It’s kinda easy when you have wicked creatures to start with. Plus, I love drawing weird stuff!

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