How the Battle was built - Interview with Danny Nolan

When the last of the 32 characters in the Game of Kings armies was released in 2009 the project was far from over. It was always an option to have these mighty armies battling off against one another.

While everyone was away working on other things and generally getting on with their lives Danny Nolan was in constant contact with Simon Sherry about making a Phase Two. Danny had always agreed with Simon that the concept had huge potential but as Simon is fond pointing out “things take time”.

Danny had worked with all the other Phase One artists in developing biographies and back stories for the characters fleshing out the project so it didn’t consist of 32 individual characters with no common thread. The end result was a popular T Shirt based release, two distinct armies and enough back story for a sequel.

What we have now is the end result of that earlier work, a battle based on a game of chess.

We asked Gok scribe Danny Nolan some questions relating to the project.

What was your role in the first phase?

To develop character profiles and back story for the characters created by the artists. Basically every artist presented a major piece (except Simon who was responsible for the entire Black army) and then I gave them personalities and a role.
The whole story was built around the characters as they were drawn, so it was a constantly developing story until the last piece was presented.

Was this how it was planned, because it sounds a bit wayward.

No, I never really had a brief, the guys just let me roll with it and everybody involved just got caught up in this creative process and made it very welcoming and nurturing. The whole first phase was a marvelous experience. Those guys were absolutely brilliant.
If you go to the newly opened Game of Kings Group and view the Works in Progress (WIP) forum you can see for yourself.

What about the Second Phase how did that come about?

There was always going to be a Second Phase, Simon said from the get-go that he would love to have Wall Art/Posters of unbelievable beings fighting on a fantastic battle field.

What about the story?

Well that was something I wanted to do, I really wanted to give the whole thing some storyline to follow. So since the project is based on the game of chess I sat down with my chess board and the Australian Official Chess Club rules book and moved each piece around until I came up with a coherent story with a start, middle and finalle, not an easy feat I’ll readily admit. All up it took about 2 weeks on and off with lots and lots of notes.
I’m quite happy they way it turned out because I also had to incorporate the Phase One back story as well as having as many interesting match ups as possible.
Believe it or not there aren’t many stories to reference when it comes to chess game/ fantasy art tie ins. The most notable is Alice Through The Looking Glass and that isn’t even a proper chess game. It’s a few illegal moves near the end of a game. A means to an end.
I believe I’ve created something unique here and I’m very proud of it.
That is why I reproduced the game in animation so as the project rolls out the reader can follow the moves to the eventual conclusion.
I will admit however due to the complexities of the story, the game does seem to be played by two very over excited 11 year olds at times and it was modeled a bit on my son playing one of his mates. No long pauses to anticipate three moves ahead, just taking pieces to see who has the most kills.
So the story came about because I believed the characters deserved it and many thanks to Simon and Cathie T for all the encouragement along the way.

Are you a big player of chess yourself?

Nope, not at all. My Dad taught me because he said every man needs to know the rules of chess and I taught my children. I play my youngest every now and again only because I have this wonderful Lord of the Rings set with a beautiful wooden board I got for Christmas years ago.
It’s a joy to just look at.

Who decided who was drawing what?

Well, I gave Simon a spread sheet of the moves and he basically divided it up from there, it all boiled down to who was available, who was busy and who wanted to do a little bit more.

It turned out quite well in the end.

What do you think is so different from any other collaboration on Red Bubble?

I think that it is the whole package. Great art, story, theme as well as all the ephemeral things we have done like the journals, blog, website, faux advertising and animations.
And let’s not forget for a fantasy art project we have a great proportion of female artists, which to me adds a whole new dimension.

Will there be a Phase Three?

Ask Simon.

(perhaps… perhaps… perhaps – Simon)

Journal Comments

  • Danny
  • Simon Sherry
  • Anne van Alkemade
  • GameOfKings
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  • Anne van Alkemade