Assassin's Creed Origins Comic – Anthony Del Col Interview

(Warning: Contains spoilers for the video game Assassin's Creed Origins)

Assassin's Creed Origins is a comic series issued by Titan Comics. The series continues the story of Aya, and features a heavy focus on her evolution and adventures in Rome. Thanks to Titan Comics we recently had the opportunity to interview the writer of the series, Anthony Del Col.

Q: Hi Anthony! Thank you very much for taking the time to answer our questions. Can you please introduce yourself to our fans that might not know you, and a little about your career?

Anthony: Hello! I’m Anthony Del Col, the writer of the Assassin’s Creed Origins series. I was also the co-writer of the first AC comic series, starting with the Trial by Fire series that debuted in 2015. In addition to diving into the AC Universe I’ve written numerous comics, including the Kill Shakespeare series (which expanded into a theater show, a board game and in development for television), the Ringo Award-nominated Nancy Drew & The Hardy Boys: The Big Lie and the just-released Image Comics graphic novel Son of Hitler (the most provocative title you’re ever heard…).

And outside of comics I’m the creator of the #1 Audible audio thriller Unheard: The Story of Anna Winslow.

Q: How would you describe this comic series and what do you think are its strongest elements?

Anthony: Assassin’s Creed Origins is a spin-off of the uber-successful video game of the same name, released in late-2017. It’s a sequel involving the most popular character, the female assassin Aya, continuing her journey beyond the plot of the game as she becomes involved in the death of Julius Caesar and its aftermath.

With everyone I write I try to sculpt it so that it can be consumed by those that are already fans and players of the game as well as complete neophytes. For the latter, this is a unique behind-the-scenes of what happened before and after the death of Caesar.

As for its strongest elements? There are some great characters here – Aya, obviously, as well as Brutus and Marc Antony. And the artwork by P.J. Kaiowa is stupendous.

Q: How different is the Origins mini-series from the other AC comic you worked on, the “Assassins” series?

Anthony: There are a lot of similarities, as well as differences. Both have two storylines taking place – in the case of Origins we follow Cleopatra in her final days and then fifteen years earlier, the Caesar assassination. Both feature some really interesting characters: in the case of Origins, the character of Aya, and in the case of Assassins, Charlotte de la Cruz.

The key difference, of course, are the timelines. Assassins features a modern-day storyline twinned with a historical one. Origins features two historical ones.

Q: Did you have the same degree of freedom in writing this series compared to when you wrote “Assassins”, considering they deal with completely different stories in the franchise?

Anthony: Ubisoft – and Titan – have been great to work with for both series. All the key members – Anouk Bachman and Ann Lemay of Ubisoft, along with Tom Williams at Titan – are very strong storytellers and add a LOT along the way.

Q:How has it been working with artist PJ Kaiowá? Did you have the chance to discuss the comic and work on it together or did you work separately?

Anthony: PJ was already in place when I started and since we live in different countries we didn’t have the chance to physically meet and discuss the comic. But we exchanged a number of emails to discuss the look of the characters, the world, the tone, etc.

PJ is an incredible artist and I would LOVE to work with him again!

Q: Aya / Amunet has been a very popular character among the fanbase. What did you try to convey with her character in the comic? Did you try to have a direct counterpart of the game character or do you think you have added something more to her?

Anthony: For all characters I write I ask myself a number of key questions: What is their biggest strength? What is their biggest weakness? I have a number of other questions but these two are key. Aya/Amunet in the game came across as a strong warrior but didn’t have any major flaws. So in this story I wanted to give her some to flesh her out as more human. Let’s face it – we ALL are imperfect and it’s these imperfections that make us unique.

Aya in our story is a little too determined to make her mark and expose tyranny to the world. She agrees with Brutus’ idea to kill Caesar publicly (despite her misgivings) and quickly realizes this was a mistake. Will she repeat it through this story? You’ll have to read it to find out!

Q: Brutus is both a well known historical figure, as well as strongly established in Assassin's Creed lore. Was this a particular challenge to write around?

Anthony: Brutus may have been the most difficult character to write in this story. The simplest approach would have been to make him the enemy – the man who is so stubborn that it leads to Aya’s life being threatened. But that’s not what Brutus was – in real life as well as in the game. So he’s a sort of anti-hero – he makes some bad decisions but also some good ones along the way. Even by the time we’re done reading the book we’re still a little unclear if he’s a villain or hero.

Q: Has it been difficult for you to have the Origins series keep up with the lore of the franchise in general? Did you use something specific to help you with it, like the Assassin's Creed Wiki for example?

Anthony: I was VERY fortunate in this series to have the services of Ann Lemay to consult with. She’s a writer at Ubisoft and a history geek. So if I had any questions about AC Universe continuity or even something as simple as gladiator fights or aqueducts, I would reach out to her and within an hour or two I would receive a LONG reply with exactly right sort of information required.

Q: How did you go about tackling the ending of the comic series, and what happened to Cleopatra and Aya / Amunet?

Anthony: I don’t want to provide any spoilers with this answer, so for those reading, don’t worry…

As a storyteller, I love creating stories within and around certain events that are already in place and I have to work around them, or look at them from a different perspective. To me it feels like a puzzle where some of the pieces are already in place and I need to figure out how the rest of it fits together.

For Assassin’s Creed Origins there were already some things in place: Aya’s “rebranding” to Amunet, her involvement in Caesar’s death, and Cleopatra’s final days. So the challenge for me was how to portray that, and see if I can come up with solutions that would allow the events to take place but show them in a different light. So in the first issue we see how Aya’s involved in the Caesar death but we dive into her emotional involvement and how it may be different from what we think in the game.

Q: What was it like to write an entire battle scene with hippos taking place under water?

Anthony: IT. WAS. THE. BEST.

Early on I realized I wanted to include a gladiator battle in this series but didn’t want the typical one we’ve seen countless times. One of the parts of the game version of Origins I really liked was the square-off against an elephant so wanted to find something that would be as much fun. After consulting with Anouk and Ann from Ubisoft we came up with the idea of using hippos. And, as mentioned, it was incredible!

From an emotional perspective, in ancient Egypt hippos were held in high regard, so Aya is conflicted when they are unleashed upon her. These animals have been tortured for quite some time and forced to kill humans for survival and Aya can see this -- but she also must survive herself. .

Q: Was there any particular scene, or dialogue in the Origins mini-series that you are most proud of?

Anthony: The hippo battle is probably the most favorite action scene I’ve ever scripted so it definitely stands out. I mean, it’s three killer hippos against a warrior. How can you top that?

Q: As you previously worked on “Assassins” before Origins, can we expect to see you working on another AC project with Titan soon?

Anthony: I would absolutely love to work with Ubisoft and Titan again on another Assassin’s Creed comic series! They’re all amazing people that know story. I’ve learned in my career it’s important to work with people that really understand all aspects of narrative and they check off all the boxes.

Thank you for your time, Anthony!!

The Origins series is available for purchase now as a collected novel in all good stockists, as well as digitally.

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