Interview: Writers Matt Hawkins and Ryan Cady discuss their new Warframe comic

Like Halo, Gears of War, and Mass Effect before it, the free-to-play cooperative sci-fi shooter Warframe now has its own comic book. Co-written by Matt Hawkins (Samaratin, The Tithe) and Ryan Cady (Magdalena), with art by Studio Hive (Bushido: The Way of the Warrior), the Warframe comic looks to expand and even explain the game's lore in a way that will satisfy longtime fans, as well as convert some readers into players.

You can check out a free digital version of the comic online, or pick up a print edition starting October 4. To find out more about the comic I went to Top Cow's offices in Los Angeles, where I spoke to Hawkins while Cady Skyped in from New York. 

GameCrate: To start, what is the Warframe comic about, and how does it connect, both narratively and chronologically, to the game?

Ryan Cady: Technically, it's a prequel-ish story. The Grineer are on Earth, looking for an ancient artifact from The Orokin Empire, and they've been destroying these villages. The first issue is about a Tenno who's protecting a lone survivor and fighting off the Grineer. And this spirals out to the main story arc, which is about other Tenno who come to stop the Grineer from finding the artifact,

GC: How did this comic come about?

Matt Hawkins: We did a one-shot comic for the game Dark Sector {which Digital Extremes made in 2008}, and then we worked together when they did The Darkness II game, which was based on a comic we do. So Sheldon Carter {Digital Extreme's Studio Head}, we've kept in touch over the years, and a couple years ago he spoke to me about doing a Warframe comic. 

They have a lot of lore. But they realize that some of it is confusing to people playing the game. So part of the idea of the comic is to give players a better idea of the story. There's even going to be timelines and things like that in the comics.

Though we're also hoping to reach new people. We're hoping someone who isn't familiar with Warframe will enjoy the comic and will then go check out the game.

 GC: So was the decision to bring Ryan in to co-write it because Warframe is a cooperative game?

MH: No. Oh... I never thought of that. Yeah, that's why. No, I needed some help with delving into the lore of the game, and Ryan has a lot more time to play games. 

GC: And Ryan, had you played the game before you started writing the comic?

RC: I had played a couple missions here and there. Since it was free-to-play, I downloaded it and played the early missions. Then, when Matt told me we might be doing this, and asked me if I would want to work on it with him, I went and played more of it. 

GC: Now Ryan, as Matt said, he brought you in because you're a bigger gamer and would be better with the lore. What then did Matt bring to this comic?

RC: Aside from years from experience? I don't know how much you or your readers know about Matt's other comics, but Matt gets the sci-fi genre really well. He's written some amazing science fiction stuff, such as his Think Tank comic. 

GC: So how much input did the good people at Digital Extremes have on your story? 

MH: They had a lot. We had taken a stab at an outline, but they were really stabs in the dark, and we told them that. And Steve Sinclair came back and gave us an outline of what he thought would be a good story, and we went off that. Which was helpful because Ryan and I mostly do our own stories, and it's different when you're working on someone else's story because what I might think is cool could be something that violates their continuity, and Steve created the Warframe story over the last few years. 

GC: Now Ryan, prior to Warframe, you also worked on an X-Files comic. Did working on that, and having to deal with the show's creators as well as Fox, prompt you to do anything different when it came to dealing with Digital Extremes?

RC: A little. But they're different because the goals were different. With Warframe, the goal was to tweak their vast lore and give their fans more details and information. With The X-Files, it was the opposite. "Anywhere you can find a place to fit a story, go for it."

GC: Art for the Warframe comic is being done by Studio Hive. Did their art influence any aspect of the story?

MH: No because we gave them a full script with all the detail of what each panel should be. What you're suggesting happens a lot when you're working on your own comics, the artist will make suggestions and you'll riff back and forth, but the art for this had to look like the game. But they had done some stuff for Top Cow before — including a book called Son of Merlin, as well as a lot of toy designs —  and they had done stuff that was similar to the style of the game, so we knew they could do things like the armored suits. 

GC: You've announced that the Warframe comic will be five issues, and that the collected edition will be out in paperback in April. Will either the individual issues or the collected edition have any bonuses for players, like maybe a code for a special gun or something?

RC: I think the first issue has a coupon for some in-game currency. {Editor's note: We checked, it does.}

GC: Are there plans to continue the Warframe comic after this first five-issue story arc?

MH: That's up to Digital Extremes. Though we'd be happy to do if they want us to.

GC: Finally, if a Warframe fan enjoys this comic, which of your other books would you suggest they check out?

RC: The obvious one would be Magdalena: The Reformation, which I co-wrote with Tini Howard, though it's a bit different from Warframe, it's more of a horror action thing. I actually have some things coming out soon-ish, some sci-fi stuff that's more in line with Warframe, but I can't talk about them yet. 

MH: The closest thing I have to Warframe is Aphrodite IX, which is about cybernetically- and genetically-enhanced warriors in the future who are fighting for supremacy; Symmetry, which is about a robot utopian future; while Think Tank is my take on the military/industrial complex. I actually have a masters in physics, so a lot of my books have a heavy science theme to them. 

Warframe #1 is out now, and #2 will be out November 15. The collected edition, Warframe: Volume 1, will be out in April of 2018.