By Marc Strom
Ender Wiggin's comic universe just expanded again with the announcement of the double-sized ENDER'S GAME: WAR OF GIFTS #1, adapted by Jake Black from Orson Scott Card's original short story.
The story, starring young Zeck Morgan as he attempts to rectify his pacifist beliefs with his training at the same Battle School as Ender Wiggin, is one that Black knew extremely well, even before the opportunity arose to adapt it.
"'War of Gifts' is actually my favorite story in all of the Ender's Universe," the writer confesses. "I really love it. Given its Christmas theme, and the plan to release the story in December, I thought it was a no-brainer. But, this idea alone was not necessarily enough to get a green light. Orson Scott Card had to approve the idea, and the manuscript, himself. As Creative Director he really sets out what will be in the comics versions of the Ender's Game mythos, and I was pleased that he let me pick my favorite of his toys to play with."
WAR OF GIFTS #1 will actually mark the second time that Black, no stranger to the world of Ender's Game, will have a chance to bring the characters he loves to life.
"I've been heavily involved in the Ender's Universe for the last few years as I worked on the 'Authorized Ender Companion,' the encyclopedia of all things Ender," relates Black. "When the idea of [doing the] comics came up, Orson Scott Card asked that I be involved as a consultant on the mainline Ender's comic series, and possibly write some of the one-shots.
"I wrote ENDER'S GAME: RECRUITING VALENTINE first, and that was a lot of fun because I was the first person to tell an [original] story in the official Ender's Universe [besides Card himself]. After RECRUITING VALENTINE came out, and seemed relatively successful, they invited me to do another one-shot in the Ender's series, this time a double-sized one that could be released in December."
Though RECRUITING VALENTINE #1 cam from an original story, Black found that his experiences between that project and writing an adaptation of "War of Gifts" proved very similar.
Because Black has adapted a number of Card's stories, including WYRMS and a number of projects for Card's online sci-fi magazine "Intergalactic," he feels that, "by the time it came to WAR OF GIFTS I was better able to adapt the story. That's the key, I think: distilling the [work] down to its most key story points. Where a lot of comic adaptations can go awry is trying to be a translation of the book, not an adaptation to another medium. I feel like I was finally able to do that with WAR OF GIFTS."
However, Black admits he wouldn't have reached that point without some help:
"One of the great things about working on this book has been working with my editor, Jordan White. He really helped me figure out what best to focus on, and we even crafted a new scene in the story that worked better for comics than the book. When you're adapting you are faced with the economy of space in comics. And I think, in working with Jordan and Mr. Card, we were able to maximize the story in the 200 or so panels we had to work with. Not a lot of space, really, and because of that the distilling I mentioned earlier really had to be done.
"I most enjoyed working with the character Zeck. Without giving away spoilers, I'll just say he's a really conflicted six year-old who is committed to his inner conflicts. He's fascinating, and I loved wrapping my head around him."
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