Prince of Persia
Jordan created and programmed the original Prince of Persia on an Apple II computer in 1989. A decade later, he partnered with Ubisoft to reinvent his classic for a new generation of gamers with Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. Its success launched a global franchise that now includes video games, graphic novels, toys, LEGO, and a blockbuster Disney feature film.
Just got back from the Prince of Persia movie press junket in London and Moscow. For readers curious about what that was like, I’ve posted these pages from my travel sketchbook.
The idea of a junket is to bring the talent — which in this case included Jerry Bruckheimer, Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Sir Ben Kingsley, Mike Newell, and me — to one destination so the press can come to us, instead of sending us on a tour from place to place. Having the global premiere of Prince of Persia in London rather than L.A. made it a short trip for European journalists, but a longer one for those from the U.S. and South America.
The junket took over several floors of the Dorchester hotel in London, where the interviews and press conference were held.
An inevitability of press junkets is that although the journalists come from different cities and countries, with a range of interviewing styles, you nonetheless tend to get asked the same questions, sometimes thirty or forty times in a single day.
The premiere was Sunday night at the London Westvue.
Not pictured: Gemma dancing barefoot in her princess gown at the afterparty.
Seeing the “Coming Soon” signs for Prince of Persia in the Odeon Leicester Square gave me tingles. That’s the theater where I first saw Raiders of the Lost Ark in the summer of 1981, right out of high school, in a packed house. It set the bar for my summer moviegoing experiences to date, and was one of my major inspirations in creating Prince of Persia on the Apple II a few years later.
Next: On to Moscow.
Being in London for the Prince of Persia movie press junket, I thought this would be an appropriate occasion to post these sketchbook pages from when we were shooting here 18 months ago.
As the caps and parkas suggest, it gets cold on the Pinewood sound stages in December. The sets are such accurate reproductions of the Morocco locations where we were filming a few months earlier, you’d never guess from the finished film that there’s an 80 degree Fahrenheit temperature difference between certain shots.
Above: That’s director Mike Newell at bottom right, presiding over the action via dual monitors. Going counter-clockwise from Mike, there’s Jake doing the scene, script supervisor Beverley Winston, and my hotel dining room. At bottom left, Sir Ben Kingsley waits between takes with his double.
On the left-hand page, Jake and Sir Ben rehearsing with Mike Newell while second A.D. Rich Goodwin looks on. At upper right, Mike and Beverley watching the take, with Mike half out of his director chair like a bowler using body English to help guide the ball down the lane. Bottom right, cinematographer John Seale.
It’s a stand-alone, book-length prequel to the upcoming movie, written by me and illustrated by six terrific artists — Bernard Chang, Tommy Lee Edwards, Tom Fowler, Niko Henrichon, David Lopez, and Cameron Stewart, plus a cover by Todd McFarlane — and if you’re wondering why one story has six different illustrators, well, that was part of the challenge and fun of writing it.
Kotaku has a nice review (one that also includes the great news that the next volume in the Dungeon series, by two of my favorite French comics creators, Lewis Trondheim and Joann Sfar, is now available in English).
I’ll post more later about writing the book, and how it relates to the movie and the original 1989 side-scrolling video game. In the meantime, I hope Prince of Persia fans and graphic novel aficionados will check it out.
The next six weeks will also include the release of my first/second book Solomon’s Thieves (written first, published second, from First Second) on May 11, and my first movie, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, on May 28. So this really is the beginning of the sandstorm.
Being flown in by the studio for one day to take part in a Prince of Persia movie panel felt a bit like visiting a parallel universe — one from which parking, waiting in line, negotiating crowds, showing ID, figuring out where to go next, and other ordinary aspects of flying and attending conventions have magically been eliminated.
Instead, I was whisked along with Jake Gyllenhaal, Jerry Bruckheimer, and Mike Newell from car to plane to car and from one place to another with such efficiency that all I saw of the show and conference center were underground parking garages, service elevators, corridors and backstage areas — only to suddenly emerge on stage in front of 4,000 people. Feeling the energy of that crowd was a rush I won’t soon forget.
It was a great day, but one that left little time for sketching. I did this one on the plane flying in.
(Left to right: Jake Gyllenhaal, Teresa Palmer, Jay Baruchel, Jon Turteltaub. All agreed that the best likeness by far is Teresa’s.)
Just found out I’ll be at WonderCon 2010 in San Francisco on Saturday, April 3, for a Disney Prince of Persia panel with Jerry Bruckheimer, Mike Newell, and Jake Gyllenhaal, moderated by Geoff Boucher.
Our panel is at noon in the Esplanade Ballroom. Looking forward to it!