By design, time spent in Dark Souls is memorable. Being forced to repeat sections over and over, chipping away at the game through accrued skill and knowledge, burns the experience into one’s brain. Maybe you share those stories with a friend, or relay them on a message board. Artist Ken Mahon started putting his experiences into a sprawling graphic novel, and the result is a 57-page account of his Dark Souls journey.
One of the words people often use to describe Dark Souls, a game about repeated dying, is “stressful.” But that’s not what Mahon gets out of them. Playing Dark Souls (and Soulslike-games) relieve stress, and in other ways, help him cope with depression.
“Around the time I started, I was going through a rough patch, trying to pitch a book and starting up another sci-fi comic,” he said. “I connected with Dark Souls as a game in a bizarre way. I didn't notice it at the time, but now the pattern is clear. I play Souls games during periods of great stress in order to de-stress. I found the struggle I had to overcome cathartic.”
Mahon, who’s been making webcomics since 2008 and today does indie comics work full-time, dabbled in games, but didn’t usually finish them. Dark Souls was different.
His climb up the mountain came back easy, from reaching the rooftops of Undead Parish and battling a duo of gargoyles, to the grand reveal of Anor Lando.
And, of course, death.
“I'm just sharing my feelings from the moment while trying to maintain the context of where I was in that moment,” he said. “Every death I put into the comic was one I experienced first hand and exactly as represented.”
Over eight months in 2013, Mahon released a few comics per week. Mahon wasn’t new to biographical work, having compiled a 400-page graphical tome about his time in Canada. The comics weren’t for anyone in particular, but eventually, the famously rabid Dark Souls audience stumbled upon them. Halfway through, they were a hit.
Years later, as Dark Souls: Remastered nears release, Mahon decided to revisit his work, transforming everything from a sprawling webcomic to a physical graphic novel. In addition to touched up panels (aka “remastered”) there are bonus sections about his time with Dark Souls 2, and screwing around with the game’s New Game Plus mode.
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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/d3kz37/this-comic-artist-made-a-graphic-novel-about-their-dark-souls-playthrough