Beginning today, Dirk the Daring comes to digital comics and continues his nearly 30-year pop-culture quest.
The do-gooding knight as well as Princess Daphne, the evil dragon Singe and other characters from legendary animator Don Bluth’s popular 1980s arcade game Dragon’s Lair appear in stories on the Don Bluth’s Dragon’s Lair Comic App for iPad, iPhone and iTouch from Zuuka Comics.
A year ago, Bluth and his team were approached by Zuuka to convert Arcana’s original published Dragon’s Lair comics — which featured new art from Bluth — to a digital format, plus add sound and music effects for the “iPad generation,” Bluth says. “They’ve done a brilliant job, and we believe it will add to the continued success of the entertainment franchise.”
The Dragon’s Lair comic app is available for free at Apple’s App Store, as is the first issue. Issues 2-6 are $1.99 each through the app.
Also available in the App Store is an HD version of the original Dragon’s Lair game, which debuted in arcades and on laserdisc in 1983. The animation used was groundbreaking at the time, and to date it’s one of only three video games on permanent display at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, alongside Pong and Pac-Man.
The continued awareness worldwide for Dragon’s Lair still amazes Bluth and his creative partner, Gary Goldman. Before the game, they had worked on classic Disney cartoons such as Robin Hood, The Rescuers and The Fox and the Hound, and in the 1980s they created independent projects including The Secret of NIMH, An American Tail, The Land Before Time and All Dogs Go To Heaven.
But when Bluth was first approached by developer Rick Dyer in 1982 to create a new kind of game, he didn’t really know what Dyer was talking about beyond the idea for “an interactive story,” Bluth recalls. “Especially when he spoke about the laserdisc technology and its ability to skip around the disc to select the appropriate scenes based on the players’ moves to allow successful continuity to advance the character’s action, or watch him die a humorous death.”
During its debut at a three-day gaming convention in Chicago in March 1983, Bluth says they presold more than $30 million of arcade consoles on the spot, with people hungry to guide Dirk the Daring on his journey to defeat Singe and save Daphne.
Since then, Dragon’s Lair has been turned into not only a comic but also a cartoon in the ’80s, and Dragon’s Lair games have appeared on more than 30 different gaming platforms. The next evolution: Dragon’s Lair is coming to Xbox Live this year with Kinect controls allowing gamers to act out the scenes playing in their Xbox 360.
Bluth has kicked around the idea of doing a new Dragon’s Lair game, most likely for one of the major consoles, and they’re working on some special things for the original game’s 30th anniversary next year. He says it’s Goldman’s dream to put a Dragon’s Lair movie in theaters by the end of 2013 — their last animated feature, Titan A.E., was released in 2000.
And just like any favorite old movie that people return to, Dragon’s Lair stays relevant and continues to live on in the hearts of fans old and new because of Dirk’s character-driven, obstacle-ridden quest to save a damsel in distress.
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“I’m sure we all have had a Princess Daphne in our lives, and we’ve all had our share of conflicts as we seek out our life’s dreams,” Bluth says. “Though done somewhat tongue-in-cheek, Dragon’s Lair is sort of an abbreviated version of the ‘hero’s journey,’ and every young man’s quest to slay his demons and rescue the fair maiden.”