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If you frequent comic shops, you've probably noticed the veritable explosion of videogame-based comics that have appeared in the last three years. Whether it's World of Warcraft, Mass Effect, or even Prototype, comics inspired by videogames have become a common occurrence.
Believe it or not, Sonic the Hedgehog was one of the first videogames to make the transition to comics, with a manga series published in 1992 by Shogakukan. The same year, Sega also signed a deal with Archie Comics to produce a Western comic based on the blue speedster; this series, also titled Sonic the Hedgehog, started during the height of Sonic's popularity but has continued running to this day.
Street Fighter was one of the next videogames to make the transition to comics, with a manga series published in Family Computer Magazine back in 1993. The manga lasted for a year - being published in English in 1994 - and had a large enough impact to spawn Gouken, a character that appeared in later Street Fighter titles.
Skipping across the Pacific, Western comics didn't see another videogame series until Tomb Raider in 1997 when Top Cow Productions signed a deal with Eidos to publish comics based on Lara Croft's adventures. The series was fairly successful, included multiple crossover events with the famous series Witchblade, running from 1999 to 2005.
After Tomb Raider gained some success, a handful of companies jumped on the bandwagon as well. Over the course of the following decade Konami signed deals with IDW Publishing to produce series based on Castlevania, Metal Gear Solid and Silent Hill; Bungie signed with Marvel to create comics based on Halo; even Blizzard signed a deal with WildStorm Productions to create a series based on World of Warcraft. It seemed like the videogame industry was giving more attention to its comic-reading consumers, though the idea didn't truly take off until 2008.
The World of Warcraft series had started with a bang in late 2007 and carried that success directly into the next year, ranking sales high enough to compete with established comic properties like Daredevil and Ultimate Fantastic Four. Meanwhile, in March of 2008, the original Dead Space videogame was released, and with it came a marketing campaign that few had seen the likes of before.
The developers had created an incredibly rich setting they believed consumers would find compelling. The only problem was that, in the context of a game, it can be difficult to fully explain backstory while still engaging the player. The addition of in-game video, audio and text logs helped, but did little to explain the history of the Marker or what the Church of Unitology was.
EA Redwood Shores decided to explore their world by branching into other media, designing a six-part comic and a feature-length animated movie that would serve as prequels to the game itself. The comic explained what happened on the colony after the Marker was discovered, while the film explained what happened when the Marker was brought up to the Ishimura, the setting of Dead Space. These, together with the game, allowed the team to create a cohesive story explaining everything players needed to know about the universe of Dead Space and the immediate backstory of the game.