Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Interplanetary 2016 Manga Seminar

There were a number of smaller seminars at the Interplanetary, including one about the upcoming manga, which seemed very interesting.

I didn't know much about the project before attending so I busily took photos and made (rather scribbly) notes throughout. The panel had Kenny Ruiz (illustrator) and Victor Santos (writer) on it alongside the CB staff to talk about their work and the character designs.

Please be aware that because this seminar was done during the daytime many of the pictures came out looking quite washed out on the projector. I've therefore increased the contrast to make them more clearly visible but this might not be completely accurate to the final product and minor details may be lost.

WARNING: This post contains a lot of large images - mobile users beware.

The initial idea for an Infinity manga came up around 10 years ago when the CB staff first met Kenny, but it never took off. They had kept in contact since and then a couple of years ago,began considering the possibility again.

Victor has done a lot of background reading about the background of Infinity and Kenny's character designs have been carefully reviewed by Corvus Belli to ensure consistency with the setting. At each stage they made sure that items such as uniforms and equipment are true to the game design.

When deciding upon the main characters the aim was to create a 'combat group' as you might recognise from the game. Each character has their own specialism and niche to fill such as the sniper, the hacker and so on.

The image above contains an early design for each character although the observant reader may notice that there is one who is unnamed and no information about him was volunteered by the panel!

Whereas here you can see something closer to the finished product. Notably Nakadai and Uhahu changed quite significantly in look.

Beba and Stalion-Jack

Beba is a TAG pilot and seems to pilot a TAG similar to the Anaconda. She has a sentimental relationship with the TAG, almost like boyfriend and girlfriend or lovers!

Each character was designed numerous times with different looks. There were actually many more than this, including just different combinations of other designs, but these were some of the most interesting.

Beba is designed to be from a street gang background and is heavily tattooed, so naturally the TAG has to be too!

The tattoos on the TAG are based on street gang designs, I believe predominately South American (although I could be mistaken!)

I think it's a pretty cool idea to have these designs all over a big hunk of machinery and it would be interesting to see a game miniature painted in the same style.

Yes the scroll-work around that knife does say 'FUCK DEAD'.

Domovoi - Dog Warrior

Domovoi is a fairly straight-forward thug. His character is designed as a bit of a bruiser!

His original design lacked the Chain Rifles as the artist thought they were small, pistol-like weapons rather than the short ranged machine guns that they actually are.

The tattoo designs for Domovoi are based on Russian prison tattoos such as those in the image above. This might also give some clues as to his background,

As you can see, he wields a pair of Chain Rifles just like his game counterpart!

Nakadai - Ninja

Nadakai is a Ninja because, frankly, Ninjas make anything cooler. He's very much the quiet/silent type which contrasts particularly with Domovoi who is rather loud/verbose. Apparently these two characters have a lot of interesting interactions in the story.

The original design had an Oni mask and a chain/bladed weapon (a kusarigama apparently, thanks PTR!) and this was entirely Kenny's own concept for a futuristic ninja.

Personally I think it looks pretty cool, but it didn't fit the setting unfortunately and so was rejected.

Nakadai also has a tattoo (tattoos are a running theme in the manga!) of the Japanese character for 'silence'.

Here you can see the original design on the right compared with the official Infinity design in the centre. The official design is much cleaner and sleeker, and it has the more traditional sword instead of the kusarigama he was originally given.

In the end a compromise was reached and the face plate was kept, albeit with some streaks of colour added, and the black fabric clothing was retained as well.

Note that in the picture above the 'Combi Rifle' is actually a mislabelled SMG.

Uhahu - Hacker

Uhahu is basically a child prodigy and this gives her some contrast with the other characters who are all adults and act appropriately 

The initial design for Uhahu looked almost cosplay-esque but this was rejected as it didn't make her look like the capable, intelligent person that she is.

Something a bit more sensible was needed for the readers to be able to take her seriously as a competent part of a unit like this, as otherwise she might just look too out of place!

Her final design with camouflage fatigues and a flowery hat are based on a girl that Kenny met while in Vietnam who wore something very similar and had clearly left an impression.

The flower pattern in particular gives a bit of light-heartedness to the character, giving her a bit of whimsy without undermining her capability.

I'm a big fan of her equipment. The hacking device briefcase, that also looks suspiciously like the gun that the CSU uses, seems like a great fit because it keeps her from looking dangerous at a glance. The Dropbear also seems a fitting choice as it's pretty cute!

Emily - Intel

Emily is an Intel - a PanOceanian covert operative.

She represents both the light and the darkness of PanO as even our favourite hyper-power has to do unpleasant things at times in order to get the job done. Infinity is all shades of grey when it comes to who the good guys are!

Her hair is quite plain on one side and wild on the other to represent this mix of good and bad elements. She also seems to be able to come across quite aggressively if she needs to.

Here you can see different outfit designs for the character to use in different situations.

Her weapons of choice seem to be a Breaker Pistol, D-Charges, Smoke Grenades and a Combi Rifle with underslung Light Grenade Launcher.

I didn't manage to get much information about her, but she seems to be somewhat of a leader for the group.

Knauf - Sniper

Knauf is an ex-military sniper who displays a vast amount of patience when waiting for his target.

He is a tough and angry character, in contrast to the general friendliness of the others, and this creates interesting interactions with the team. It seems that he was forced to join the team against his will and no doubt this will be further expanded upon later.

It was remarked that he was somewhat of a Wolverine-like character.

Again, this character went through many looks and revisions while searching for the right fit. You can see some of the concepts in the pictures above.

As mentioned, the character is a lot angrier compared to the others so lots of sketches were made of his face to try and capture this feel and to make him stand out.

He carries an eclectic mix of equipment, no doubt scavenged over many years and battles.

So far I've spotted a Bolt helmet, Aleph sniper rifle and an Ariadnan pistol, but elements of the character's equipment have been taken from a wide range of sources and no doubt you could work out the rest too if you have a keen eye.

The Setting

The manga is set, at least partially, in Svalarheima, so expect lots of cold and snow! It takes place in the middle of a conflict between PanOceania and Yu Jing.

The battle scenes in the manga are designed to read as if they were a game of Infinity. Characters activate and move around in a way that reflects how the game is played.

In fact battles are sketched out beforehand, like the example above, to show how characters would move around and would interact with others. This should give it a believable feel and again ties it into the rest of the universe.

Example Pages

At the end of the seminar we were shown some pages from the manga. There's no text in place yet so all the speech bubbles are empty but I think we could all make a guess at filling in the blanks.

This part of the manga represents the start of a battle and you can see the troops being gathered, them surveying the battlefield and then deploying - just as you would in the game!

Note: I *think* these are in order... 


  1. The ninja's strange chain weapon is a kusarigama

    1. Thanks! They kept calling it a chain weapon during the seminar, so that's what I had in my notes. I'll update my post with that note. :)

  2. The 4th picture of Knauf, that body armour looks like a Haqqislamite ghulam's body armour, witht he notable dividing line between pectorals and abdomen. http://www.beastsofwar.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Image-H.jpg