Interview with Lounak Studio

Assassin's Creed Visionaries is an upcoming graphic novel anthology planned from Studio Lounak. The project is a celebration of 15 years of Assassin's Creed, and features newly inspired stories and visions based upon the franchise. For those who might recall our “What If?” article, the themes of this project should definitely be of interest to you.

The Kickstarter campaign for the book has recently kicked off, so we took the opportunity to talk to Studio Lounak about the project and their plans for the future.

Interview with Studio Lounak

Q: Hi Studio Lounak! 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 previous projects within Assassin's Creed?

Hi Access The Animus! Studio Lounak has been a creative studio based in Montreal for 15 years already! We work for companies like Ubisoft most of the time. We do graphic research, storyboarding, comics, illustration and animation depending on the mandates that we are entrusted with. We have also been a publisher for a few years now.

Q: How would you describe Assassin's Creed Visionaries as an overall project and what do you think are its strongest elements to appeal to fans?

We have been working with Ubisoft for 15 years. Our first experience with them was the creation of the The Fall / The Chain series, which was the first adaptation of the AC universe to comics comics in their history. At that time, we worked with a certain freedom but always with some constraints from a purely creative point of view that are very simple and logical at the same time... It was necessary that our story and our characters could fit into the already existing narrative frame of the AC universe so that there was continuity and that it could remain completely coherent for the whole work. So, we have added a piece of history to this wonderful universe with pleasure and pride!

Visionaries was born in our minds a few years ago now. The formula is simple... what if we asked Ubisoft for permission to be able to explore the AC universe without any narrative or graphic barrier? And give free reins to our wildest ideas? We needed an opportunity to approach them and offer them this crazy and ambitious project... the 15th anniversary seemed like the ideal moment for us! The project immediately seduced them and they greenlit the idea with enthusiasm! A vision of AC totally free of his universe ... never seen before!

Q: Could you tell us about the writers and artists that are involved on the project and some of the stories they are working on? We understand that there are several talents attached to the anthology.

We went looking for talented artists, coming from the world of comics but also from Eupopean graphic novels. The choice on our side was made very simply ... we looked at each other with my partner and we just asked ourselves a question: which author do you enjoy the most? Would you like to see them drawing for this project? And there, the ideas exploded in all directions! It would be sick to see an assassin version of Conan the Barbarian by one of the artists or a story that happens during the American Civil War written by another one! When we started contacting the artists, the idea was not difficult to propose... We told them: You do what you want, it's a Carte Blanche!

Q: What did originally attract your team of writers and artists to the franchise? Was there any aspect that particularly interested them to work on the anthology?

In two words: CARTE BLANCHE. The concept of freedom, that of appropriating the universe of AC without having constraints.

Q: How much research did you have to perform versus the existing lore? Have you been delving through fan initiatives and databases like the Assassin's Creed Wiki?

No real research on our side. The idea was not to create yet another commercial product to put on the market. The very essence of the project was to let the artists have fun, so that they could appropriate the universe, invent their own story and put them in pictures. The more freedom we give to artists, the more it is felt through their works. I think the reader feels this at first glance. Inspiration is an aphrodisiac!

Q: We note that one of the stories is a near-future setting, which has been rarely touched upon in the wider lore. As this is perhaps one of the more stand out settings, are there any teases you can give on this one?

The future: the Templars have won. Totally. Using Precursor technology, they covered the Earth with strange structures that gave them strange powers. The Assassins and their descendants have all been killed... But not to the last. There is still hope that must be saved before it is too late. Seeleena is that hope, but she still ignores it...

Q: From the preview images it looks like World War II is also present, which is one of the most requested settings from fans. Did you find creating a story in this historical period particularly challenging?

Yes and no! On the few images by Raphael Albuquerque and Ale Santos, we indeed see a Nazi officer but the story takes place in Argentina, after the war ... an assassin is in charge of finding a man hidden under the guise of this famous officer ... for the rest of the story, I will let you read it in due course!

Q: How was it working with Ubisoft on this project? Did you have a degree of freedom in choosing settings, or were you directed to a specific template?

Very good as usual! Total freedom for 95% of the time on the project! The process is simple. We must submit the scenarios to Aymar Azaizia, Ubisoft's Director of Transmedia and Brand Development so that there are no unpleasant surprises and for the rest, it is at our discretion. We are free as air to propose what tempts us.

Q: Naturally you are working with Ubisoft, therefore some fans might be wondering why you landed on using Kickstarter as a means to produce the novel. Was there any particular attraction to this methodology?

That's the great $1,000,000 dollar question! Thank you for asking us.

The term working with Ubisoft is generally very misinterpreted.

I explain myself: When Ubisoft asks us to do an illustration, an animation, a graphic research, whether on the AC universe, R6 or Far Cry for example, at that moment we work FOR UBISOFT, they place an order with us and we deliver it to them.

When we want to create and edit a book with AC as a medium (as is the case here), at that moment we are NOT working FOR Ubisoft OR WITH Ubisoft. We use the property of Ubisoft so we pay Ubisoft rights to use the image of their franchise as is the case here with AC...are you following me so far?
The current KICKSTARTER project is NOT a Ubisoft project, it is a project from STUDIO LOUNAK. It is WE who ask the fans and future readers of Visionaries to participate financially in the project. NOT Ubisoft.

I know it's sometimes confusing for some people, but the only reason Ubisoft is mentioned in the project is because we use one of its universes.

And why go through KICKSTATER? This is a huge project for Studio Lounak. For it to be of quality, so that the authors can be compensated at their fair value and so that we can release a product worthy of its name, it takes a lot, a lot of money. Twenty authors and more, Hardcover book, 148 pages. it costs a certain amount money. Without the socio-financing system, we would not be able to tackle this kind of project.

Q: Are there any notable cameos of characters from the games appearing in the anthology? Have you included other Easter Eggs?

We will keep some surprises from you! If we reveal everything, it's less fun, isn't it?

Q: This anthology is potentially the first of several new releases from you. Naturally fans will be interested to hear, are there any teases you can provide on your future products? Locations, settings etc?

The projects are on the in progress. :-) But yes, Visionaries will develop for sure!

Q: Finally, is there anything else you want to tell fans about Assassin's Creed Visionaries?

This kind of project, that is a Carte Blanche in the Assassin's Creed universe, with so many authors (more than twenty artists!) doesn't happen every day...take part in this crazy adventure to make this project a reality!

Thank you for your time, Studio Lounak!

To obtain your own copy of Asassin's Creed Visionaries, the project can be backed now

The team at Access The Animus wish the project well, and look forward to reviewing the novel in the future.

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