Return to Night City in Dark Horse Comics' new tie-in comic book series Cyberpunk 2077: You Have My Word.
Debuting April 28, Cyberpunk 2077: You Have My Word #1 follows three individuals in three separate storyline that takes them from the gleaming spires of corporations down into the gritty blocks controlled by the Valentinos gang.
CD Projekt Red narrative manager/writer Bartosz Sztybor teams with artist Jesús Hervas to tell the stories of a cyberpunk girl named Oriona, a diner waitress named Teresa, and a gangster named El Sombreron in slice-of-life stories soaked in the tragic violence that's become a trademark of Cyberpunk 2077.
"You're thrown into several situations involving a bunch of characters. You'll learn some facts about them, dive into their little secrets, and start connecting the dots to see the connections they share," Sztybor tells Newsarama. "But you won't find the classic main character in the first issue, you'll have to choose one for yourself."
Newsarama had the chance to chat with both Sztybor and Hervas about creating a comic book story within the world of Cyberpunk 2077, what elements from the game fans can expect to see, and if the team wants to work on more Cyberpunk following this limited series.
Newsarama: Bartosz and Jesús, how did Dark Horse approach you to work on Cyberpunk 2077?
Bartosz Sztybor: I'm a narrative manager and a writer at CD Projekt Red, but I'm also a comic book and movie writer working in the European market. I've written some Cyberpunk 2077 stories and comic books before, and of course I was in the studio while the game was made — so I know this world very well, and have an intimate feel for it.
Jesús Hervas: It was Bartosz who contacted me to propose the project to me, I was excited about it from the first moment.
Nrama: What about Cyberpunk 2077 resonates with you so much?
Sztybor: I think the world created in Cyberpunk 2077 is inspiring and filled with many characters that feel very real. They carry true emotional weight.
Hervas: Everything in this universe is cool and funny to draw, the characters, the city, the cars, the weapons, the lights, the tattoos…It's really great to be part of something so powerful.
Sztybor: And then there are the stories. There are several tales in the game that will stay with you for a long time. I was inspired all the time when playing Cyberpunk 2077, new stories were just popping into my mind.
Nrama: What was your collaboration process with each other like?
Sztybor: I actually wanted to work with Jesus for some time. I love his works for French and US publishers, and I had a strong feeling that he would be perfect for a gritty story from a Cyberpunk 2077 world. I wasn't wrong.
We started by talking about the style and atmosphere, then I told Jesus about the characters and he absolutely nailed it with his first concepts. He captured their style and feeling perfectly - and I loved their looks at first sight.
I can say the same for the script. I sent Jesus all the necessary references and he blew my mind with each new batch of pages. I was also impressed how Jesus collaborated with our colorist Giulia Brusco (one of the best there is!) to make the best out of already beautiful pages.
The whole collaboration was not only very professional, but I also felt this strong artistic energy where everyone involved wanted to create something that really matters. All that wouldn't have happened without the amazing help of our great editor Judy Khuu, who made the collaboration process really pleasant and is absolutely the best at paying attention to very small - but also extremely important - details.
Hervas: Working with the whole team has been very easy for me, Bartosz ‘s story is great and I really love drawing the Cyberpunk universe, in addition to the amount of references that I had at my disposal.
Both he and Judy, our editor, have always been very receptive and positive towards everything that I have proposed on the pages and covers.
Also, it was great to work for the first time with Giulia Brusco who I admire a lot. She's wonderful, I love her work and learn from her.
Nrama: Tell us a bit about our main characters for Cyberpunk 2077: You Have My Word.
Sztybor: What I like about Cyberpunk 2077: You Have My Word, especially the first issue, is that you're thrown into several situations involving a bunch of characters. You'll learn some facts about them, dive into their little secrets, and start connecting the dots to see the connections they share. But you won't find the classic main character in the first issue, you'll have to choose one for yourself.
There's this crazy cyberpunk girl Oriona working with her fixer, Cormac, and her cyberpunk friend Kyle. You think she seems to be committed to her cyberpunk gigs, but when nobody's watching, she's planning something else for her future.
We also meet Teresa who seems to be an ordinary woman working in a lousy diner far from Night City, but we can feel a strange tension inside her that's connected to her past.
And there's also El Sombreron, a legendary Valentinos gangster, who seems to know more than you think...
You can pick your favorite - but you better watch out, ‘cause Night City is dangerous and someone who you thought will be your main character can quickly meet a bitter end.
Nrama: What goes into adapting a video game for a comic book story?
Sztybor: To create a good adaptation, you need to be two people at the same time, both the biggest fan of the original and its biggest critic. Someone who loves the original too much will only create a propaganda leaflet, but too far in the opposite direction and you lose too much of the core, and your vision gets too skewed. You need a healthy mix. That's why I'm always looking for the things I like about the world, then processing them against my own emotions and mechanisms to create my own independent story.
Nrama: What were elements from the game you knew you wanted to embrace?
Sztybor: I really wanted to make Night City one of the characters and show it in connection with some of the other human characters. Show how the two intertwine. Then, within that city, I wanted to mix the high-concept cyberpunk creations - like the cyberpunks themselves - with a slice-of-life story. I love to do this. One of my favorite quests from Cyberpunk 2077 is Jackie's funeral. It's a very human scene, very grounded, so I wanted to show the normal life of cyberpunks, too. That doesn't mean there won't be any action. On the contrary! Another thing I like about the game is that violence is very casual, like in Cormac McCarthy's novels. So, there will be lots of sadness and tragic violence in You Have My Word because that's the kind of place Night City is.
Hervas: In this case it has been an advantage for me, since I was able to work with all the visual richness of the video game and I have the freedom to interpret it in my own way in a story with the strength and spirit of its own.
Nrama: Are there any elements from the previous Cyberpunk 2077 comic books that you pick up on here?
Sztybor: All tales from the Cyberpunk 2077 world have a noir atmosphere; very sharp but also poignant cynicism and concrete social commentary. It was present in Trauma Team and you will definitely find it in You Have My Word.
As for the story elements, it's a standalone mini-series but it takes place in the same world, so look carefully and you might find characters from the other Cyberpunk 2077 comic books or from the game itself.
Nrama: Jesus, were there any new character designs you were able to work on? If so, walk us through your process of creating them.
Hervas: Yes, Bartosz wrote for the series a good handful of very charismatic new characters: cyberpunks, gangsters, ordinary (apparently) people too ...
Visually, creating Cyberpunk 2077 universe characters is very enjoyable as you can allow yourself to be quirky you have a lot of cool elements to incorporate from the video game.
I think the creation of the characters is one of the most important parts of the whole process and I enjoy it so much, they are the driving force of the story and it is vital that they work.
Nothing very special in the process. When I look for a character, I always start with a head portrait and look for something recognizable and that I feel fits with the story.
I erase and modify on the same one sketch over and over again until I have something that I think might work. From there I look for the full-body physical appearance and clothing that fit with the face I already have.
Nrama: What do you think fans of Cyberpunk will enjoy about this?
Sztybor: They will enjoy a bunch of cool new characters and a story full of twists and turns deeply rooted in social fears and cyberpunk themes. The most hardcore fans of the game will definitely like cameos from well-known characters and popular Night City locales. And I think they will also enjoy the visual side of the miniseries. Jesus and Giulia captured Night City so well, and really made it feel alive and vivid in a unique way.
Hervas: I think that's exactly what Cyberpunk 2077 fans will enjoy, we want them to be able to recognize the ingredients and the spirit of the universe that they love, and go a little deeper into the universe, also building an exciting story all by itself.
Nrama: Would you like to work on more Cyberpunk stories following this limited series?
Sztybor: Of course! I already have a dozen stories in my mind I would like to tell. It's a huge world, very inspiring and connected to our world so there's always a chance to comment on our strange reality by telling a compelling cyberpunk story.
Nrama: Do you think it would be a sequel to this story or just a totally new adventure within the Cyberpunk 2077 world?
Sztybor: You never know. The next book will be a new standalone story but if the readers fall in love with the characters from Cyberpunk 2077: You Have My Word, there's a big chance some of them will come back in the future.
Hervas: I've really enjoyed doing the miniseries so much, so hopefully there will be an opportunity to do more.
Thinking of visiting Night City yourself? Make sure you read our Cyberpunk 2077 tips: 13 things to know before exploring Night City.