The New Lara Croft Lowdown
While at SDCC last week, I sat down with Ricardo Sanchez, VP of Content for Gametap and creator of Gametap TV’s Re/Visioned series, and writer Gail Simone (Wonder Woman, Birds of Prey) to learn a little more about what the gaming site had in store for fans with their re-interpretation of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.
For those unfamiliar with Gametap.com, it’s a PC gaming site that has both free ad supported and a subscription service. With their biggest coup having made the 10th Anniversary Tomb Raider game available to subscribers for download the same day it was out in stores. Owned by Turner and a sister company to the Cartoon Network, they’re taking advantage of their position by trying to be a gaming lifestyle site, rather than just a place to play and download games. Part of that move is Gametap TV, an Internet broadcast channel that was launched with A Day in the Extra Life series.
Gametap decided to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Lara Croft in several ways, the aforementioned game launch, a retrospective documentary that is available for viewing on the site and a ten episode run launching the Re/Visioned series with a wishlist of great artists and writers, including Peter Chung, Jim Lee, Warren Ellis and Gail Simone. Actress Minnie Driver will be voicing Lara for all the episodes.
There will be seven different Lara stories in total, starting with the three part “Keys to the Kingdom” by Peter Chung (Aeon Flux) which is already up on the site, along with the Brian Puludo / David Alvarez comedic episode “Revenge of the Aztec Mummy.” The very thought of an Aztec mummy was so humorous (or, perhaps, ludicrous) to Warren Ellis he couldn’t help himself from fits of laughter during the SDCC Gametap panel. Ellis’ story is a two-parter entitled “Angel Spit” (art by Cully Hamner) which was screened at SDCC and should be up this week.
I was curious as to how a writer goes about taking a character people know from an established game and tells a compelling new story. In our sit-down I posed that question to Gail Simone, who said her take was to “decide what character traits Lara would have in place” if she “dialed her back” to her preteen years. Simone’s story places a 12-year old Croft in boarding school. From there the “story wrote itself.”
However, I got the feeling that some of the creators weren’t as happy with the end result or the constraints that had been put on their storytelling. Eidos gave a list of things Lara would and would not do. Chung stated he had wanted to make her more emotional but was shot down. In panel he also gave the crowd his first treatment idea that was rejected. It seems they weren’t too keen on the idea of Croft breaking into St. Peter’s tomb and shooting up animated Jesus statues (go figure). Chung kept repeating the point that “she’s a grave robber.”
Ellis said he modeled his Croft “in the tradition of other great English Adventurers … like Allan Quatermain who … was a real bastard.”
I enjoyed part one of “Angel Spit” and would like very much to see the other episodes, but sadly, try as I might I couldn’t get them to play when I went to the site through the “watch” function on the home page. The again, it does still say ‘beta’ up top on the home page. So I suggest you go through Tombraider.gametap.com and you should have no problems.
All in all, Sanchez and Gametap have an exciting idea, pairing great artists and writer with an iconic gaming character. The upcoming creative teams are Brian Puludo / Ivan Reiss, Gail Simone / Six Point Harness, Michael Stackpole / Louie Del Carmen and (finally) Jim Lee and Wildstorm Studios. Weekly episodes started airing July 10th and go up through August 23rd.