When Comics Met Videogames

Cecil and Gibbons reunite beneath a steel sky.

At 60 years old, Dave Gibbons has been writing and drawing comics for over half his lifetime. From his formative years working on British institutions such as 2000AD and Dan Dare, Gibbons became best known for his collaboration with Alan Moore on the seminal 1980s graphic novel Watchmen, which single-handedly legitimised a medium previously dismissed by mainstream culture as childish.

In the early 1990s Gibbons was invited to dip into another ostensibly immature medium, that of videogames, by way of a collaboration with Charles Cecil, founder of Revolution Software. Together the pair fronted the creative direction of one of adventure gaming's most enduring point and click classics, Beneath a Steel Sky.

Now, 15 years later, the pair has regrouped for last week's release of Beneath a Steel Sky: Remastered onto iPhone. Eurogamer met with both men to discuss the parallels between their chosen mediums, and to pick over at the past, present and potential future of each man's work in his respective field.

Eurogamer: How long have you been friends?

Dave Gibbons: It's been a long, long time - in fact someone sent me a photo today of Charles and I from... was it 15 years ago Charles?

Charles Cecil: It was. Frightening.

Dave Gibbons: In the interim our hair has receded while other things have grown, but I think we must have known each other for probably the best part of 20 years.

Charles Cecil: I got in touch with you when I was at Activision and I left that company in 1989/1990, so yes, about 20 years. Our friendship came about because I was a great fan of Watchmen and thought it would be great to work with Dave in some capacity. Soon after I approached him the old Activision collapsed leading me to found Revolution. I've maintained a friendship with Dave ever since.

Dave Gibbons: One of the things I've always loved about comics is that you get to collaborate with like-minded people who share your enthusiasm. It's really the best way in the world to try and make some money. In Charles' people at Revolution I found that a group of dedicated and enthusiastic, and so I was immediately attracted to that.

Eurogamer: Dave, how did you feel when you first got that offer to work on a videogame? Were you interested in videogames at the time, or did you view them with disdain?

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Dave Gibbons: Well, my son at that time was probably about 10 years old and I brought home a computer thinking that I would do the accounts on it, or whatever it was we thought we'd use computers for back then. But in reality I'd spend most of the time looking over his shoulder or playing things like Harrier Attack on the Amstrad.

Although they were only in their infancy I could see that games were going to become something super interesting and just the kind of area where someone with my skills in drawing, writing and conceptualising could prove useful. So I was really pleased to be able to get a toe in the water when Charles called me up

Eurogamer: What do you remember about the time you were both working on Beneath a Steel Sky?

Charles Cecil: I think it deeply scarred you didn't it, Dave? That trip from London to Hull and back...

Dave Gibbons: Yeah, it was a long old haul up to Hull, but as I say there was a lot of enthusiasm between us so we'd have a chat, then have a bacon butty and then have another chat and I'd get back on the train and go home. We used to do a lot via fax machines and things. I don't think at that point we were emailing artwork and stuff backwards and forwards, so I guess compared to today, it had a sort of wild frontier feel about it.

Charles Cecil: Faxes were quite cool in those days though weren't they - it was pretty advanced to have a fax. In fact, we actually did have a modem. The problem is that you had to phone up the person that you wanted to send a file to and agree on speed and ports and all that kind of stuff. It took about an hour to get the whole thing set up.

Dave Gibbons: I can remember actually doing designs on some of the sprites on an Amiga using Paint and assembling them pixel by pixel; I mean it was a really archaic way to work, but it was good fun and we thought we were the future...

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