I’m not a full-time comics guy, but I certainly have my favourites. And Hellboy might be my most favourite of all, so to have gone decades without knowing that its creator Mike Mignola worked on a Final Fantasy comic has blown my weekend wide open.
Oshi No Ko Is An Early Anime Of The Year Contender
Famed comics author Kurt Busiek, best known for his superhero work on stuff like Superman and The Avengers, told a story over the weekend on Twitter about a comic he and Mignola teamed up for in the early 90s. “Every time someone starts talking about the unreleased FINAL FANTASY comic I wrote years ago”, he says, “there’s a spate on online news articles and discussion, and they all seem to get the story wrong.”
I somehow didn’t even know this was a story, so definitely enjoyed Busiek’s recounting of it, which for some will be a correction to older stories that got it “wrong”, but for me is one of the coolest “what if” tales in video game adaptation history.
Busiek’s retelling was over a number of Tweets, so I’ve pasted the full text below (with a couple of capitalisation edits), but if you want to read them as the site intended you can start here:
Mike Mignola did great-looking covers for it, but he didn’t draw the interiors. Dell Barras did, and he finished about an issue and a half before the plug was pulled. I think I got three (of four) issues written.
It was not an adaptation of the game. The project started as an original adventure set in the world of FINAL FANTASY I, but after Disney Comics had approved my outline for it, Squaresoft decided they wanted to tie in to the forthcoming game, now known as FINAL FANTASY IV. I was kinda saddened by this, because…..I liked the story I’d come up with, and I liked that it was about low-level characters who were basically trying to survive, and the new game was about high-ranking people who were in charge of armies and countries and such, which was more confining, but so it goes.
So they paid me a kill fee for my first outline, and I did a new outline that used the characters from the upcoming game but told a new story in that world, rather than adapting the game. They liked that fine.
Some folks have said that clearly I hadn’t played FFIV or I wouldn’t have wanted to make changes they didn’t like. That’s true, but it’s because FFIV wasn’t done yet. This was before it had even been released in Japan. I worked off an overall bible and character design art.
I’ve seen it reported that I’ve said it was a bad comic and that it’s good that it didn’t come out. I’m pretty sure that I said it wasn’t my best work (I had to put it in a hurry for reasons mentioned above) but it was a solid story. And I’ve said FINAL FANTASY fans would…..not like it if it was published today, because they’d bring all their knowledge of the FF lore that’s been built up over the past 30 years to it, and it wouldn’t match that; it’d seem like heresy. But I would have been fine with it coming out back then.
I’ve seen people saying I wanted to change the character names, because I didn’t understand who they were. The stuff they say I didn’t understand wasn’t in the character descriptions I was given, and for all I know didn’t exist yet. Maybe yes, maybe no. But I asked…..SquareSoft about the names, and they encouraged me to change them, with an eye toward using the new names in the US release of the game. So you can be grateful the comic never happened, or Cid might have been called “Lord Blast” for the past 30+ years!
SquareSoft started talking with me about hiring me to be their in-house “Americanizer,” because they liked the stuff I was doing. But I’d just moved to a new area, and the job would have meant moving to the Seattle suburbs, and I was ambivalent about that. They may have…..been, too, because for whatever reason, we didn’t talk about that job for very long.
But if it had come up in 1991, it’d have been part of the whole thing; if it was finished today it’d be this weird out-of-continuity thing that got everything “wrong.”
The idea these three guys (Barras is perhaps better known for his animation work, on everything from the original Transformers to Spider-Man) could have worked on a Final Fantasy comic, of all things, is interesting enough. The fact we could have had Busiek serve as some kind of Localisation Guy, naming and renaming characters, is even wilder. Lord Blast!
If you want to see some of Mignola’s covers, issue #4 is here, while another shared by Busiek is below: