D&D comics history part 32 - Cutter (IDW)

   In 2013, along with the reprints of classic DC comics, IDW will only release one original story, set in the Forgotten Realms :


   This 5 issues comic will be compiled into HC in november 2013 and in TPB a year later. Single issues will all have an alternate cover (characters' sketch ones for the most).

   It's been written by Robert Anthony and Geno Salvatore, art by David Baldeon, colors by David Garcia Cruz and letters by Neil Uyetake.

   The plot takes place just before Night of the Hunter, 28th book in the Legend of Drizzt story arc. It relates the inheritance of a magical sword from a Drow renegade, Tos'un Armgo, to either one of his half-drow siblings, Teirflin and Doum'weille, who will have to fight for its ownership. Tos'un, who fled Menzoberranzan during the failed siege of Mithril Hall (year 1358 DR) is then living for a century under the stars among the elves of the Moonwood and married with their leader, Sinnafain. In this tragical family drama, the main object of the tale is obviously the sword Khazid'hea, the "Cutter", a sentient and malevolent blade that will be a reccurent element of the Legend of Drizzt saga. First appeared in Starless Night, 8th installment of the series, it was then owned by Dantrag, elder son of Matron Yvonne Baenre and weapon master of the same house. By chance, even it DDP never released the full Starless Night comic, we have some visual of it in the first only published issue. Its design was then pretty different from what we have in Cutter. Here's are the page from DDP's comic and a cover art by D. Baldeon for a comparison :

Khazid'hea designed as... scimitar (!) in DDP's Starless Night and longsword in IDW's Cutter

   Through its history, the longsword will have many owners including Drizzt, Catti-brie, Delly Curtie and even orcs before ending in the hands of Tos'un. It is said the sword can cut through flesh, bone, steel, and even rock. And, aside with the telepathic path the sword creates with its owner, it also has the ability to shape-adapt its pommel and hilt to him and has no other purpose but to find its greater wielder, whatever it could cost to actual one. Tho, the blade part of the blood-thirsty sword itself is not supposed to change. (there DDP Starless Night's scimitar design creates a total non-sense as after Drizzt acquired it, he will give it to Catti-brie as he prefers using scimitars... QED heh)

   Taken alone, without any knowledge of Drizzt saga, the story can be misunderstood and somehow incoherent to the reader. But in the whole it makes sense. The art and coloring are pretty decent. We have here very dynamic scenes of battles.

    Here again, IDW proposed us a nice piece. Maybe not the best compared to the rest of their publishing but still, a fine and well drawn side story. The only one thing I could personally regret is that there is no module edition for any of the issues as well as no RPG material at all as bonuses... but well... it is what it is heh.

Also note that this story will be compiled in IDW's Forgotten Realms Omnibus along with Neverwinter Tales and Forgotten Realms.

Bonus : R.A. & Geno Salvatore's interview by Bart Carroll (04/10/2013)
What is the “Cutter” that gives this comic book series its title?
Bob : “Cutter” is the nickname of the sentient long sword, Khazid’hea, which has appeared in several of my older Drizzt novels.
Geno : Khazid’hea first appears in Starless Night, and has changed hands several times through the Drizzt novels. It was last seen in the hands of Tos’un Armgo, a drow renegade.

Can we expect to see any familiar faces (from your novels or from lore) in this series?
Bob : Oh yes, of course! Tos’un, the lead character and his elven wife were both around for the Hunter’s Blades series, and we learned about their two children through the books and short stories, as well. Also, this series will lead us back to many other familiar characters in the novels going forward.

How did this comic book come about?
Bob : Geno and I had such a good time writing Drizzt: Neverwinter Tales that I wanted to do another one. Given the scope of The Sundering, the great world event that’s shaking the Forgotten Realms, there are many side-stories to tell. For this one, I thought a comic series was the perfect medium.
Geno : The story itself feels like a natural one to tell—Tos’un’s story in the novels was an interesting one, and he was left in an open-ended place. So we decided to explore what has happened to him and his family.

How does the process of writing a comic book differ from a novel?
Bob : You have to be very efficient with language, of course, and make sure that you’re on the exact same page as the artist, who is, in many ways, relating more of the story than you, the writer, are. I’m a visual writer, but with this format, I’m forced to really pare back my usual manner of letting the characters describe the scene before them.
Geno : Space is at a premium in a graphic novel. There are only so many pages in an issue. So, in order to tell the full story, you really have to use that space efficiently. There simply isn’t enough space on the page for anything not essential to the story. Of course, I’m not sure that’s really different from novel writing—anything not moving the story forward can and should be cut from a novel, as well—but writing a graphic novel really forces you to consider what is and what is not essential.

You’ve both written comics before, of course—but have you become more comfortable with the medium?
Bob : I certainly am. What’s very intriguing to me is that all I’m really doing is channeling the way I “see” a story a bit differently than when I’m writing it in a novel, and honestly, the comics are starting to seem equally (if not more) natural to me.
Geno : One of the first things I published starting out was a graphic novel short (co-authored with my father), which was featured as part of a graphic novel based on his DemonWars world. Returning to graphic novels for Neverwinter Tales and now for Cutter feels very natural to me. I very much enjoy and feel very comfortable with visual media.

Have you enjoyed working with artist David Baldeon?
Bob : Oh, absolutely! Every time the next pages show up, I open the e-mail and gasp with awe. David can tell a story as well as anyone, and beautifully.
Geno : David’s work is amazing.

Will this series have a lasting impact on the landscape of Dungeons & Dragons - and the Forgotten Realms specifically?
Bob : Yes, because Cutter is leading us to something bigger and darker. My novel due next March refers to this series directly and importantly.

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