You might know Jason Rubin for his co-founding role at Los Angeles developer Naughty Dog, creator of the Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter series, but the developer, who largely left the industry after amicably departing Naughty Dog a couple of years back, is currently involved in a number of new projects.
These include his Web 2.0-styled slideshow/transition-enabling website Flektor (which was created with his Naughty Dog co-founder Andy Gavin, and has just been acquired by MySpace) and his new IP, comic book and reported 'multimedia project' Iron and the Maiden.
Gamasutra spoke with him at Comic Con in San Diego about his new projects, his future game interest, and his old ideas. Herein, we discussed the design sensibility of Crash Bandicoot versus Mario 64 and Nights, Naughty Dog's proposed Metallica game, the possibility of Iron and the Maiden as a game property, and the current state of Crash Bandicoot and the industry at large.
You're here at Comic Con primarily for Iron and the Maiden...Is it out now?
JR: Yes, the official launch of book one is next week, but we have a special exclusive Comicon cover today.
Oh okay. I actually saw some of the press pre-release thing of it. And it looks you ramp up the character arc real fast, because the main character goes from "I've worked for these guys forever" to on page 4: “oh no, they betrayed me!” It’s a little quick.
JR: Well, yes. But this is my first comic book writing. So, I have to say I have a huge amount of respect for comic book writers, because they get it all done in 22 or 23 pages – I took 28. So I took a lot more space and still, to get everything you want into every issue is very hard.
I didn’t want to have the entire Issue One, the first one that people see, the one people see today, be: “he works for the mob – but where’s this going?” I wanted it to go somewhere.
So it’s a very big challenge writing for comics, I have to say.
So I wonder then, why go with the traditional format, instead of a graphic novel, or a manga format, where you can get 100 pages, or more?
JR: Well, in the long run, this is going to be released one way or the other as a graphic novel. And personally, I like reading comics when they come out as bound editions, because you can read the whole story and you’re not left hanging for a month.
Two things I did. One: I guaranteed that this book was gonna come out on time every month, which, for the comic book industry, is a little different. We have all of the books done, as we sit here today as the first one’s launching. So I won’t leave people hanging. And I also wanted a complete arc. So I did go and do a full arc; there is a conclusion, whereas some comic books, you’re kind of left hanging after a few episodes, and you’re like, “this is not ended, and the artist has gone on and now he’s working on Spiderman”
So I did want to do the complete book, but eventually this will come out as a graphic novel. I kind of wanted to do the monthlys as well.
Yeah, I personally haven’t read a monthly in a long time.
JR: Well the comic industry’s changed so much.
JR: And you know, the thicker books, the compilations, are selling in bookstores. Much more of the world buys their books at bookstores or online at amazon.com than they do in comic book stores. So this is a very different market, you know? You have very unique covers; you’re holding one of the covers.
There’s only one thousand of them out there. You have a signed one of them, so you know, it’s a different market than somebody who’s going to go into a book store and say, “I want the whole thing, bound once. Don’t care about the separate covers, but give them to me in the back because I want to see them. And I’m not a collector and I want to read.” So those two markets – it’s great, because they’re both served now by the different aspects of the bound book and the monthlys.
And you’ve mentioned that this might be an IP that you’d want to extend further. Could you consider going into games with it again?
JR: Absolutely. I would love to make it into a game. In fact, someone who read the first script for the four comic books said, “you realize, of course, that you’ve created the perfect video game world: you have minions, you have bosses, you have sub-bosses. You don’t need that in the comics realm.” And I’m like, “I can’t help it.”
Twenty years of making games, I think that way, right? Make lots of minions! You don’t just want one because there’s no game there! And I didn’t even think about it, but I’ve created a world that’s really well-suited to games, and hopefully I’ve spent a little more time on story and backstory and relationship than you would in a game, so hopefully I have something that might also make it to movie or TV.