INTERVIEW: Keith Richardson & Patrick Goddard on Sniper Elite: Resistance

With the WWII thriller's final issue landing on shelves on 24th October, the writer and artist talk about plunging head-first into Occupied France

8 months ago

The third and final installment in the Sniper Elite: Resistance series hits shelves on 24th October, featuring appearance from some old favourites as well as the bittersweet knowledge that it is Carlos Ezqerra's final cover for 2000 AD.

Keith Richardson and Patrick Goddard are the team behind the US-format comic series based on the global best-selling game Sniper Elite. The action-packed game turns into an adrenalin-fueled three-issue comic series, when Allied SOE hero Karl Fairburne parachutes into Angouleme on a mission to find and destroy a new German anti-aircraft weapon.

Richard Bruton had chance to talk to writer and artist...

What can you tell us about the series?

Patrick Goddard: The first issue kicks off establishing the main character from the Sniper Elite game; Karl Fairburne, flicking between his mission and flashback moments. It’s a pretty high paced strip so you’re thrown in quickly so hope you enjoy the ride!

Before taking on Snipe Elite: Resistance, were you fans and players of the game, or was it a case of getting a rapid refresher in video gaming in general and Sniper Elite in particular?

Keith Richardson: I have been on the staff at Rebellion long before the first Sniper game was made, so I’m only too familiar with it. I’m not really a gamer, but I have played and thoroughly en-joyed the Sniper Elite series. I should also add that I’m completely crap at it.

PG: I had drawn a 12-page Sniper Elite: Desert Ghost comic that came with Sniper Elite 3, written by Pat Kelleher. I assume they liked what I did so asked if I’d fancied drawing this one which I was more than happy to do. That’s about as far as I know about the game, and games in general as I’m not a player. I just don't have the time unfortunately, too many deadlines!

I picked up two of the Garth Ennis Battle Classics books a while ago when I needed some black and white art inspiration for Savage so they came in very useful in trying and capturing that old Battle comic feel. My first comics were Star Wars Weekly and Battle Action Force, so it’s been great to have that Battle logo on something I’ve contributed to - my eight-year-old self would’ve been blown away!

When writing an adaptation of a video game property, how do you approach creating the comic? I know the back-story and characterization of video games such as Sniper Elite are far more complex and layered than they used to be, but is it a case of taking the skeleton of the plot and characters from the game and fleshing out the world, the characters involved, and the plot?

KR: I approached this as if I was plotting a new series for Battle and didn’t worry too much about the various storylines and supporting cast which pop up in the games. Obviously, I researched and included stuff about our central protagonist Karl Fairburne and made sure to get in plenty of snip-ing action, but that was about it. Oh, I did (kind of) tip my hat to the Rebellion Nazi Zombie Army games, which you can see in issue two. The most important thing was to tell an engaging, visually delicious story that will keep readers entertained for three issues.

Keith, you’re now writing Sniper Elite, but for a long time have been collections editor at 2000 AD and Rebellion – how did you first get that editing break, and how did you make the switch from editing to writing?

KR: I was working in PR for a major movie company. It wasn’t pleasant, so I found an out – 2000 AD were looking for an ad sales guy. I was still reading comics, 2000 AD had turned a corner and I thought the comics medium would be a happy and harmonious place to work!

As for fitting editing and writing - It isn’t that difficult, to be honest. They are two very distinct and separate disciplines. The hard part is finding the time to fit in the writing work. I couldn’t do any-thing during office hours while I was busy putting collections together. I’d get home (back to Lon-don after commuting to Oxford in the morning) and try and get something down on paper while also helping my missus out with our newborn. It was a tough gig, but good fun.

Patrick, as with any historical comic, there’s no doubt a lot of artistic reference research been necessary for Sniper Elite. Although I’d imagine working on Pat Mill’s Savage in 2000 AD meant you’d already got some of the imagery down pretty well, seeing as the occupied Britain in Savage has something of a wartime '40s look and feel. What sorts of research did Sniper Elite involve?

PG: I’ve done my share of reference heavy strips (Savage and Aquila), it’s perfectly necessary to try your best and get things accurate; it can give a strip that bit of authenticity. I don’t always get it right, mind, but I do my best. Although it’s always refreshing to go to the other end and let your imagination run drawing Dredd! Luckily Keith did most of the research, he supplied all the weapons and vehicles, and he even sent me some holiday snaps from Angouleme! It’s an interesting part of history so I’m more than happy to read up on it.

It’s similar to how I work with Pat Mills, anything specific he has in mind he sends me tons of refer-ence which is a great help. With Sniper Elite I just tried to get some of the fashions and uniforms correct. I suppose I draw in a quite traditional style anyway, so focused on keeping it fairly straight-forward storytelling wise, I don't draw many extreme angles or get too over the top with it, alt-hough it is quite bloody at times!

Patrick, for quite a few years, you were often part of a very successful art team with Dylan Teague, with him providing inks over your pencils. How did this come about and what were the reasons for moving on to inking your own work?

PG: I was put in touch with Dylan by David Bishop (editor of 2000 AD at the time), we live nearby (Cardiff) so it made sense to get us together as I originally submitted work as a penciller and Dylan isn’t the fastest so was happy to ink me. There was no falling out, we’re still good mates, the truth was it ended up being a financial decision in the end for me. I was waiting weeks between scripts (as there wasn’t a lot of work about) as I was finishing penciling fairly quickly, if I inked them myself that time was cut and I was paid more! It made sense. Luckily Dylan has more work offers than he can handle, so he’s fine.

It’s always fascinating to talk to artists about the evolution of their work, and it seems to me that the Goddard/Teague evolution to just Goddard has been a great learning process for you in terms of your artistic development.

PG: I still prefer penciling, as I’m not a natural inker, and it’s taken me a long time to find a method I’m comfortable with. Plus Dylan is very precise and slick, where I’m more sketchy and rough. Being left handed had always put me off inking (too messy!) but I’ve learned ways around it, everything is inked from right to left!

Most of the art I’ve seen from you, certainly in recent years, has been in black and white, some-thing your dense, detailed, and bloody lovely lines and inks definitely suits. What changes in process and thinking did you have to make for prepping art for a colour comic?

PG: When I started out I realised my work was drawn to be coloured, pretty much just line work. I didn’t think too much about spotting blacks and such, drawing in b/w there’s no escape. It makes you work harder as there’s no colourist to save you.

I took some time away from comics in 2004 and went into secondary school teaching, work was quiet and I had bills to pay so I thought getting a ‘proper’ job would be best! I still drew the odd strip but really thought that was it. My contract was up in 2007 and I was applying for other posts when Matt Smith contacted me to see if I was interested in drawing Savage (Charlie Allard had gone off to draw something called The Walking Dead…).

I took the time to really study hard of why artists placed blacks where they did, how it can help the reader mover around the page and make things pop etc. With Sniper Elite it’s taken time to get into a mindset of being coloured again, I don't have to over render things as much, you just have to trust your colourist. Quinton Winter has done a great job; colourists must be mind readers to figure out what the artists are doing! Jim Campbell has enjoyed himself with some old school sound effects too; I hope readers enjoy what we’ve all put together.