Veteran games designer Cliff Bleszinski (Gears of War, Unreal, Fortnite) and acclaimed comics writer Alex de Campi (Smoke, No Mercy, Dracula, Motherf**ker!) have shed light on an all-new joint venture — a dog-centric comic book series known as Scrapper, which is set to hit the shelves on July 19, 2023.
“Blade Runner-style action mixes with big emotions as stray dog Scrapper and his buddy Tank fight for justice against the totalitarian forces of a post-apocalyptic domed city,” the blurb opens. “But when the fight comes to his home Scrapper will face losing what's most important to him-and gain a terrifying truth in the process.”
As we’re only a stone’s throw away from seeing its debut on Image Comics, we thought we’d reach out to Cliff and Alex to get some additional context on the upcoming issue. Just what is Scrapper, and how will it look to add flair to the established medium in 2023? Here’s what we found out..
Let’s talk about Scrapper. What is it, and how did you formulate the concept of bringing man’s best friend to a superhero-centric dystopian world?
Cliff: Long story short I stumbled into becoming a Broadway producer which required numerous trips up to New York City. I noticed up there that there are so many stray dogs, cats, and other creatures that, well, life finds a way. My wife got us a Pomsky (that’s mostly Husky) and she inspired me as my muse.
Alex: I’ve always had rescue dogs and lived in big cities, so when Cliff approached me with the idea, I really felt like Scrapper was a project I could bring a lot of passion to. Urban animals? Sign me tf up! Plus, Cliff had already thought through the idea so well, there was an incredibly solid base to build a story on.
Without giving away one too many spoilers, what can we expect from Scrapper? The blurb mentions that our hero will be faced with a “terrifying truth” — care to shed a little extra light on this?
Cliff: Obvious spoiler bait, yo! So yeah not answering that but you’ll be surprised at the extent of his abilities…
Alex: Scrapper is a thriller, so I don’t want to say too much, but let’s just say he’s not what he thinks he is, and the city’s corruption goes a lot deeper than he could ever imagine.
We can’t help but notice the post-apocalyptic city that Scrapper is set in. Cliff, would you say that either Gears of War or Unreal has had any influence on this choice of design?
Cliff: We’re not really saying if the city is pre-apocalypse or post-apocalypse. One of the biggest mysteries we’ve yet to unfurl is what’s outside the domed city? Stay tuned…
Alex, you’ve had plenty of experience in working on visual novels and comic books. What has it been like working on Scrapper?
Alex: It’s been so much fun. Cliff’s a really nice guy and super smart about storytelling. He’s also got really strong opinions, which is good in a collaborative partner, because if you’re deciding on artists, for example, he’s able to say “yes” or “no” definitively and rapidly. But there’s no ego in it – it’s all about what’s best for the story, and that’s honestly the best thing to have in a collaborative partner. We both just want to make the best book possible. Cliff’s experience running huge AAA games definitely carries over really well into the collaborative task of making a comic, because he’s also understanding about the setbacks that occur, like something takes longer than expected, or needs a revision.
Has the collaboration process been as smooth as you would’ve liked, or have there been any complications?
Cliff: Alex is tough but fair and smart as a whip and I respect the hell out of her. I hope this project takes off so we could do future collaborations. Over the course of my game development career I learned that finding the right people to work with is so essential and luckily I was introduced to Alex.
Alex: The only issue we had – and it’s a good problem, a high-class problem – is that a game is infinitely expandable in all directions, whereas a comic book miniseries is 20-24 pages per issue, six issues. So occasionally Cliff would be like, “oh, have we got any place to put this cool detail / aspect?” and usually we could fit it in, but occasionally I just had to say no for pacing reasons.
It goes without saying that drafting a series of comic books is a whole other ball game to designing a video game. Cliff, how have you found this transition?
Cliff: Learning this business has been fascinating and, honestly, I’m still learning it. That said, there is some overlap in regards to narrative structure, framing, and pacing as well as art direction and dialogue. It’s certainly been an adventure!
And is this new venture likely to affect your involvement in the gaming industry? Cliff, are you planning on making a return to video games, or has Scrapper opened a new doorway for you?
Cliff: My years of experience in video games and love of pop culture I’d like to believe have helped me make Scrapper perfect to adapt to a video game, TV series, or toy line. I don’t see myself making video games full time again any time soon, but you never know…
It’s probably a little too early to ask, but with Scrapper out in the open, will the two of you be working together to create anything else in the future?
Cliff: I have another IP that my wife and I collaborated on that’s sitting in Alex’s in-box. She’s just quite in demand these days so hopefully we can sync up and see about working on it together. Be warned – it’s really dark.
Alex: There are plans! I am the roadblock. As well as Scrapper, I have two graphic novels for Image that just went to print and another for Dark Horse that I’m lettering, and then once we’re a bit further along on Scrapper I will have the brain space to actually engage with the plans.
Before you go, is there anything else you’d like to add for our readers?
Cliff: I just wanted to thank Alex for being my sherpa in this space. I really, truly believe in this project because it comes from the heart. I’m thrilled to have another creative outlet after quite some time and, hey, who doesn’t love dogs?
Alex: So the comic book single issue ordering process is the most user-unfriendly process in the whole world. Cliff and I put together a little site here that will help you find comic shops that stock Scrapper and can mail them to you, in the UK, Ireland, US, or Canada. We’ll continute to update it as more issues come out, with links to order the limited-edition store variant covers, and we’ll add a link to buy the issues digitally after July 19, once the first issue is out. There’s also going to be a sweet hardback collected edition out in March, and that you can just buy at a bookstore like a normal person.
Oh, and if you’re going to San Diego Comic-Con, Cliff and I are doing signings and panels on Friday evening and Saturday midafternoon! Come say hi, get a sticker and a signed bookplate.
Thanks for your time, guys. We look forward to catching the first issue of Scrapper later this month!
Scrapper will be heading to the storefronts on July 19, 2023. You can get your hands on the first issue for just $3.99 over on the Imagine Comics site here. Alternatively, you can get a copy via the official Scrapper website. For everything else, be sure to check in with Cliff and Alex over on their socials.
So, what’s the verdict? Will you be picking up an issue of Scrapper when it hits the shelves? Let us know your thoughts over on our socials here.