In the world of Overrun, people are computer files with names like .Doc and .JPEG. But when a deadly virus turns the files into infected zombies there is only one rag tag group of heroes who can save the day, led by amnesiac Cooper and struggling reality star The Sarge Overrun is packed full of more tech in-jokes than a dozen reddit sub threads. We catch up with writers Andi Ewington and Matt Woodley on what file type they would be?
Tell us why we should be checking out Overrun, what’s it all about?
Andi: I think anyone who loves playing computer games or is into their tech will really ‘get’ Overrun. It’s a fast-paced romp through a grounded-in-reality computer world. It feels like a game as you read it, but there’s a darker core that beats at away below Overrun’s surface.
Matt: And it has amazing art. 114 pages in total.
What were your inspirations for the series? We’re guessing from the sheer number of video game character references that was a large part of the inspiration?
Andi: Weird as it sounds, [our main influence was] real life to a lesser or greater degree. I think I was sat on the train one day and looked around at everyone sat with me on the commute. I began imagining what file types they would be if they were inside a computer. I saw people wearing headphones as music files, suited people as .xls files and backpack wearers as document files. From that point on it became easy to flesh out the world of Overrun. After that I wanted to write something zombie-orientated but with a twist, so the computer virus became the digital version of a zombie invasion. Once Matt was onboard we began channelling characters from seminal titles such as Call of Duty, Mario, Shinobi, Tomb Raider and Pokémon.
Matt: Whilst we were developing it I tended to put the video game aspect to one side as I think we nailed that tone of voice pretty quickly. I liked to imagine it as an ancient history story – Nero poisoning the water supply of a district of Rome to get rid of undesirables – that sort of thing.
Of all the video game references and techie easter eggs, which are your favourites and which of the more obscure ones are you proudest of including (Tapper the barman was perhaps our favourite!!) And were there any you wanted to include but couldn’t (or that your lawyers persuaded you not to!!)
Andi: There’s so many to choose from but perhaps my favourite is the doorbell outside the residing apartment of the antagonists. The doorbell SFX is a dead give away. I don’t think there’s anything we didn’t include on purpose, but certainly looking back there’s been plenty of games since then that I would have loved to have included, titles such as The Last of Us, Dark Souls and Elite Dangerous. Looking back, I wish I had referenced the Fallout series somehow.
Matt: The next stories need some Fallout for sure. And maybe a bit of VR/AR.
The people in Overrun are named after computer file types (JPEGs, DOC etc.) what filetype would you be?
Andi: I think I’d be a MP3 file, I’m always wearing my headphones to and from work during the week so I think I’d fit that file type perfectly. Although my music tastes are a touch eclectic so my dress sense would probably end up a mash-up of every musical style going!
Matt: I’d be a .xls. I love a good spreadsheet, me. There is beauty to be found in them if you look hard enough. Honest.
How did you and Matt come to be working on this, have you worked together before and how did you connect with artist Paul Green?
Andi: Our paths crossed around 1992 when Matt was a Product Manager at Domark and I was working at a design agency called Red Pepper. I had approached Matt out-of-the-blue to see if there was any way he’d let me design a computer game campaign. Somehow I managed to persuade him to let me have a crack at the Championship Manager 2 franchise. After that we worked together for many years on many titles such as Tank Commander, Lords of Midnight, Deathtrap Dungeon, Unreal, Duke Nukem, Total Annihilation: Kingdoms, Sensible Soccer, Hexen and Discworld Noir. It made perfect sense to me to bring Matt onboard for Overrun, our total computer game experience exceeds 50 years! As for Paul, we were introduced to him via Harry Markos (Markosia) after we lost our initial artist, Cosmo White, to a run on Thundercats. We tested Paul and realised his iconic style was perfectly suited to the world of Overrun. Paul’s a computer game industry veteran too and totally ‘got’ what we were trying to do with the comic. Looking through the sheer amount of detail Paul has added I’m staggered, many of the little touches and Easter Eggs are his ideas he added into the mix.
You’ve released the book via iBooks, why choose that platform and not one of the more traditional like Comixology? How has that experience gone so far?
Andi: This one really came down to practicality, Matt is very hands-on when it comes to the digital side. He quickly built our website, had a working digital app version of Overrun and crafted the Kindle and iBook versions of the comic across the four issues. We went with the Kindle and iBooks first purely because we could built and submit those formats very quickly and make them live quicker than any other format. That’s not to say we won’t be submitting through dedicated platforms like Comixology or Madefire, but we wanted to get to market a lot quicker after five years of hard work! The experience, from my side, has been relatively smooth. I had to set the comic only once really in order to create a workable file for Matt to import. We tested it thoroughly on both platforms before release and were delighted with the results. Hats off to Matt really for his programming skills and patience!
Matt: Both Kindle and iBooks release is pretty straight forward and those platforms are totally clear when it comes to IP and promotional rights. No real reason why Overrun won’t be out on every digital format, though. Just a case of hours in the day and priorities. I’m working on a phone/tablet app which has all the comics and a fun little game which I think will be an interesting experiment in looking at new routes to readers.
And finally, if fans like your work from Overrun what can we expect from you next?
Andi: Within the world of Overrun we want to develop a series of stories for Detectives Norton and McAfee. This would lead into a series of procedural dramas set within the city, as they go about solving cases such as missing files, or unexpected crashes. Outside of Overrun, I’m full on working for 451 Media adapting or originating IPs such as Sunflower, S6X, and Exmortis to name a few. I’m also developing several new IPs including Deadworld and Necros(i)s.
Matt: I’m working on a few new things but looking forward to get back writing in the Overrun universe soon.
And to get a sample of what’s involved then check out this amazing promo video…