Assassin’s Creed is one of the most popular franchises in the video game industry, winning numerous accolades and acclaim since it first debuted in 2007. Over time, its reach has broadened into numerous media beyond games, enriching the Assassin’s Creed lore for the joy of many fans.
In October 2015 Titan Comics announced it was launching a second comic series based on the video game Assassin’s Creed: Templars written by Fred Van Lente and artist Dennis Calero.
In 1927 Darius Gift arrived in Shanghai on his first assignment for the Templar Order. A minor misstep means he soon finds himself mixed up in the shadowy underworld of the International Settlement, and mixed up with the mysterious, enigmatic, Black Cross…
We got a chance to talk to Van Lente about the series and more.
Graphic Policy: It’s great to get a chance to talk to you Fred, how are you?
Fred Van Lente: Glad to be here, I’m great, thanks.
GP: The second issue of your newest series, Templars, is just around the corner (check out a preview below). What can you tell us about what you have in store for us without giving too much away?
FVL: In this issue we get introduced more to the Templar Rite in Shanghai, and learn things just how tough things are for them with Chiang Kai-shek and his Nationalist Army about ready to invade the city. The Templars are desperately trying to get Chiang on their side, and so they need to figure out who seems to be leaking their plans to the enemy. And so in has been called the most trusted of the Inner Sanctum’s agents, Black Cross.
GP: I had a chance to read an early copy of Templars #2, and while I don’t want to spoil anything for people, I really enjoyed the notion of the Black Cross, so I was wondering how much freedom did you have when crafting the story?
FVL: I came up with Black Cross, the concept at least, on my own, and I was pleased Ubisoft really liked it. I felt like the Assassins had too much of a monopoly on “cool” and so I wanted a figure within the Templars that could hold their own against sort of the idea of them. Dennis Calero, my friend and artist, worked out the design with the folks in Montreal. We work very closely with Ubisoft and they give a lot of input, they monitor the comics very closely because this isn’t just some licensed knock-off, this is very much integrated into the world of AC as a whole, including the games, the books, the movie, and everything else. In fact, Templars will be concluding one of the major storylines from the games themselves, which is all very exciting for Dennis and me.
GP: I’ve been a fan of the Assassin’s Creed games since I got my hands on the first one nearly ten years ago, and have always enjoyed the back story that gets put into those games. With the franchise being so popular do you feel any more pressure when writing Templars that you have to deliver, than, say one of the other comics you’ve been writing?
FVL: No. You just need to go out there and tell the best story you can and most fans respond to that. It doesn’t hurt I’ve been an Assassin’s Creed fan myself since AC2.
GP: The beauty of this franchise is that you can tell stories set in almost any time period; is there a specific era that you’d love to get your hands on?
I’d really like to tell a story in North Africa during the Barbary Pirates period. I’m pretty lucky this is an on-going, huh?
GP: Absolutely! What’s it like working in the Assassin’s Creed universe as opposed to some of the others you’ve been writing for? Do you need to delve into the history books a fair bit, so to speak, to get the historical feel of the franchise nailed down?
FVL: I do but that’s in my wheelhouse. Historical fiction is my personal favorite genre as a reader, I’ve already done a bunch of non-fiction comics like Action Philosophers, The Comic Book History of Comics and the upcoming Action Presidents. In fact, I started out writing for the Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game, and those are basically historical supplements. One of my unpublished RPG books was about Shanghai for the 1920s, and so I was able to cannibalize a fair bit of that for the first arc of Templars.
GP: Awesome. Do you have anything coming up that you want to talk about or plug?
FVL: In speaking of Call of Cthulhu, we’re soliciting right now for Weird Detective, my Lovecraft crime series from Dark Horse — see the attached promo image! If you dig Templars, you’ll love this — be sure to tell your shop you want a copy!
GP: I’ll be on the look out for that, but one more thing; if you had to choose one from the following, pirates, ninjas, cowboys or aliens, which’d it be?
FVL: You are talking to the writer of Cowboys and Aliens, so that puts me in a tough position — but I’ve got to say pirates. AC4: Black Flag is my favorite Assassin’s Creed game!
GP: Thanks so much for the interview. Folks can check out a preview of the second issue of Assassin’s Creed: Templars below!