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Marvel Contest of Champions Gets Back to Its Comic Book Roots

Preview THE YOUNG ELDERS TALE by Gabriel Frizzera and Luke Ross!

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Marvel Contest of Champions” gets back to its comic book roots with a comic of its own, THE YOUNG ELDERS TALE, by Kabam Art Director Gabriel Frizzera and artist Luke Ross. We reached out to the dynamic duo to chat about their new comic and to figure out what the Collector and Grandmaster got up to during the formative years of their immortality.

Marvel.com: Gabe what is going on with this new comic, THE YOUNG ELDERS TALE, you created with Luke Ross?

Gabriel Frizzera: This is a very special initiative for us. Around 130 million people have downloaded MCOC, and millions of these come back every single day to play, and follow our storyline. As our little “Contest of Champions Universe” becomes more complex, we are always looking to create more avenues of storytelling for the game beyond the in-game dialogue, cutscenes and motion comics we create every month.

The first of these avenues is called THE YOUNG ELDERS TALE, a short comic written by myself and drawn by Marvel artist Luke Ross, and integrated to our January quest. Now that the “MCOC” universe is established, it’s a good idea to bring outside collaborators to add their voices to the mix, as it’s the modus operandi of successful fictional universes like the Marvel universe, Star Wars, and others. It’s also part of our mission as Marvel geeks to convert more players into comic readers, and make them invested in the beautiful tapestry of Marvel continuity!

Marvel.com: The team has packed quite a bit of story and lore into “Marvel Contest of Champions,” especially for a mobile game. Where do you see narrative fitting into the “MCOC” package?

Gabriel Frizzera: Contest of Champions has always been strongly focused on story. Three years into the game, we have developed our own continuity, creating monthly one-shots focused on different characters. We also have a “mainline” story that started in 2014, and continues to this day. We collaborated with Marvel to create the Contest of Champions comic, and characters that exist in both the comic and game universes. Part of the job is to look to the past and future of this universe, and fill the narrative gaps. “Young Elders Tale” goes back millions years back in time to tell an origin tale for both the Battlerealm and the cosmic Elders running the Contest of Champions.

Marvel.com: And let’s talk a little about THE YOUNG ELDERS TALE. Where did it come from? What are you trying to do through exploring the relationship between the Collector and the Grandmaster?

Gabriel Frizzera: The plot of the story basically follows the beginnings of the relationship of the Collector and the Grandmaster, when they were young and were still looking for their Elder “vocations”, i.e. they didn’t have “jobs” as Collector and Grandmaster yet. They had a brotherly relationship, and explored the Battlerealm together, along the Collector’s daughter, Carina. But something tragic happens that makes them have a falling out. It’s a tale never fully explored in the main 616 continuity, so I felt it was story worth to be told… and we’re in a unique position to do it, since we’ve been using these character as part of our game for some time now.

The Elders of the Universe are a fascinating bunch to me. Official lore says they are immortal and dedicate eternity to one single pursuit, and that keeps them alive. It all seems very cosmic, but in fact I think it relates to regular people’s lives. When we’re young, we usually have every step of our future planned; but then life happens, and we often end up becoming very different people, with different professions and pursuits. When we look back, it almost looks like we had no choice at all in the matter. As you’ll see in the story, the Collector and the Grandmaster are very naive people when they enter their adventure together, before their journey forces them onto different paths.

Gabriel Frizzera’s original concept of the young Collector and young Grandmaster

Marvel.com: It had to be a blast working with Luke Ross. What was it like seeing him turn your words into pictures?

Gabriel Frizzera: I have always been a fan of Luke’s works, as an artist and fellow Brazilian. He was one of the pioneers in my country, showing to an entire generation of developing comic artists that we could realize our dreams of drawing our favorite comics for Marvel. His drawings are so effortless, and improved my words in every way. Luke makes the characters slowly evolve, from innocent explorers to jaded Elders, by making them more realistic, page by page, which I thought it was a genius move. The collaboration was so fruitful that we are considering creating more cool stories in the near future!

Luke Ross: Thank you for your generous words, my friend! Working together on a comic was something that we both were eager to realize, I am very glad that we finally could make that happen. I am very satisfied with the great comic our partnership resulted, and I also have to say that a big part of the success is due to the superb work you did on the colors!

Marvel.com: And Luke, this comic doesn’t give you quite the same dimensions as a full book might. How’d you adapt to the smaller space you had to work with, especially knowing this would be read on player’s mobile devices?

Luke Ross: Since the time Gabriel invited me to join him on this comic, I thought this as a regular comic book. I didn’t give too much importance to the dimensions, actually. Only later when he sent me the specs that I realized it would be much smaller than the comics I usually draw. I suggested to Gabriel we work on a size that could allow us to have a printed version as well. He approved the idea, and this way I could work on the same size and resolution that I do on a regular comic, permitting it can be reduced to fit the proper mobile resolution. The only difference that I had to get used to quickly was the orientation of the pages. The history itself was easy to draw, it was pure fun. Gabriel gave me freedom to play with my style according to the events that lead up to the final page.

Marvel.com: I gotta ask then, are these kinds of comics the new normal for “Contest of Champions”?

Gabriel Frizzera: We sure hope so! Since this initiative was so well-received by the fans, we’re already planning the next in-game comics. There are many corners of the Contest of Champions universe that we want to shine a light on, and these short stories are the perfect complement to lighter narrative tools like in-quest dialogue and regular cutscenes. Our plan is to invite a roster of talented people to play in our playground, and see what crazy ideas and visuals they can come up with!

Marvel.com: Is there anything else that we need to know about the Elders, the comic, or what’s coming next for “Marvel Contest of Champions”?

Gabriel Frizzera: The Elders storyline is the beginning of the end of our first major story arc, which started in 2015. We’ll cross it over with our massive Infinity War event, wrap all that up in Act 6, then there’ll be a major change in status quo for the Contest of Champions… that’s all I can reveal for now!

Stay tuned to Marvel.com for more “Marvel Contest of Champions” news and interviews and follow us on Twitter @MarvelGames!