Robin Hobb and Ryan Kelly Interview

With the release of Assassin’s Apprentice II #1 tomorrow from Dark Horse Comics, we are delighted to be joined by Robin Hobb and Ryan Kelly. Robin is a best-selling author who is best known for The Realm of the Elderlings series. Ryan is an artist who has worked on numerous comics, including Star Wars, Stanger Things, The Wicked + The Divine, Local, Lucifer, Books of Magic, Marvel Boy and DMZ.


Hi Robin and Ryan, it’s so wonderful to have you both here with us.

Robin: Thank you for the opportunity.  It’s a pleasure to do this interview for readers of Comicbuzz


How would you describe the Assassin’s Apprentice series?

Robin: I wrote Assassin’s Apprentice as the first book of the Farseer Trilogy.  It’s the tale of a royal bastard who is both blessed and cursed with two types of magic.  But before he can master either, he must survive in a family that either desires to destroy him or exploit him.


Robin, If we could just step back a bit, could you tell us about the origins of the Assassin’s Apprentice comic?

Robin: It began with a question I asked myself many years ago.  “What if magic were addictive, and that addiction was totally destructive?”  I wondered under what circumstances someone might still be tempted to learn to use it and use it recklessly.  And that was when Fitz stepped onto the stage.


Robin, how did Dark Horse Comics get involved with Assassin’s Apprentice comic?

Robin: As with any adaptation of a published work, Dark Horse approached us with a query as to whether the rights were available.  They were, and we were interested.  It has been a real pleasure to work with Brett Israel as he shepherded the process through to final presentation.


Ryan, what was your reaction when you were approached about the Assassin’s Apprentice comic?

Ryan: I was honored just to be asked to join the creative team! Even having not read the novel, initially, it was clear to me this was an important project, and a weighty one, ultimately entailing 18 issues. I wouldn’t have taken the job if I didn’t feel I naturally had the skills and dedication to commit to it and draw it. Assassin’s Apprentice Is large. And I believe I wanted ‘large’ at the time. It’s common for a comic book series these days to end at 6 issues, so to be able to draw a book that can spread out and breath for 18 chapters is a challenge I embrace.


What has the feedback been like for the first volume of the Assassin’s Apprentice comic?

Ryan: I have enjoyed hearing comments about how real and ‘lived-in’ the series feels, especially for a fantasy story. I hope that’s a reflection on my efforts, as well as the artistry of Colorist Jordie Bellaire and Letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhao, who I can’t speak more highly of. 


Robin, how did Jody, Ryan, Jordie and Ann join the Assassin’s Apprentice comic team?

Robin: For finding and recruiting that talent, all credit goes to Brett Israel as editor.  He worked hard to find the right combination of people to create a really wonderful edition.


Ryan, what did you think when you read the script for Assassin’s Apprentice #1?

Ryan: I thought of how wonderful it is working with Jody Houser and how I would do it again and again, happily. Her scripts are crisp, sharp, to-the-point, but giving me all the direction necessary to render the scenery and emotions required to get the visual storytelling across. I get a lot from her scripts—character motivations, body language, visual signifiers- so I don’t have to hunt through the novel for answers. What I’m impressed most about Jody is her knack for using montages, flashbacks and small moments to get across large swaths of the original novel’s material. In comics, timing and space are often a limited resource, and Jody uses them as well as anyone I have worked with. 


Robin, what has it been like working on the Assassin’s Apprentice comic?

Robin: Again, I am thankful for Brett Israel who kept me involved in every step along the way.  I saw the scripts, the pencils, the inked versions, all of it as it went through the creative process.  As someone who did not know much about how a comic came to be, it was very exciting and educational.


Do you have a favourite scene from the first volume of the Assassin’s Apprentice comic?

Robin: I think Fitz’s first encounter with Chade would be high on the list.  But there are so many good scenes, from Fitz’s first meeting with Molly, and his realization that not everyone has the same abilities he has, to his conflict with Regal. The testing of his loyalty, and how he reacts to it.   And of course, there are his interactions with the Fool.  All of it, I suppose.


Ryan, artistically, has it been a challenge to bring the Assassin’s Apprentice series to life in comic form?

Ryan: Not really, no. It’s been easy going, for the most part, which is the way making comics should be!  My biggest challenge has been getting the facial expressions right on characters, especially the more mysterious characters, such as The Fool. Lady Patience and Galen have been difficult for me, initially, as well…But give me some time with any character, and I grow more comfortable with them as they come to life on the page. 


Robin, for Assassin’s Apprentice II, what can you tell us about Fitz?

Robin: No spoilers, no spoilers!  Well, a bit.  Raised in a remote location, Fitz  is brought to Buckkeep as a small child who bears the burden of being a bastard son of a prince who has just abdicated the throne.  As King Shrewd observes, he can either be seen as a threat or a useful tool. And that is how he begins his life as an illegitmate sprig of the royal family.


What can you tell us about Assassin’s Apprentice II #1?

Robin: It picks up the story exactly where volume 1 left off, as Fitz moves ever deeper into danger as he attempts to learn to master his magic.


Any message for the ComicBuzz readers?

Robin: Thank you for being readers, and we hope that you will enjoy what we have created.

Ryan: In Series 2 Issue 1, Young Fitz is growing and settling into his role at Buckkeep, and the surrounding threats and dangers become more clear and serious to him.

We would like to say thank you to Robin and Ryan for chatting with us. We would like to wish Robin, Ryan and the whole of the Assassin’s Apprentice team the best of luck with the series.

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