The Witcher Ronin is a complete Witcher manga based on Japanese folklore

CD Projekt Red has announced a Kickstarter pre-launch campaign for The Witcher Ronin, a full-length manga by CDPR, as part of WitcherCon. For this gorgeous-looking new project, author Rafa Jaki is teaming up with Japanese illustrator Hataya, and IGN was able to talk with Jaki about the comic ahead of the formal announcement.


The Witcher Ronin is a complete Witcher manga based on Japanese folklore


What Is The Witcher Ronin?

Rafa Jaki, who served as CDPR's Comic Book editor for eight years, co-created the fictitious card game Gwent, and is developing the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077 anime Edgerunners, is writing The Witcher Ronin, a full-length Witcher manga. Hataya, a manga artist best known for Neko no Matasaburou and Mangaka Joshi, is in charge of the comic's visuals.


The manga will present a solo "Elseworld" story that is unrelated to the video game plots, thus it won't be a scenario in which Geralt from The Witcher is mysteriously transported from his world to Japan. Instead, Jaki was inspired by stories like Superman Red Son and Batman Ninja to reimagine a well-known superhero in a new setting.


Because Japanese folklore also has a strong heritage of monsters known as yokai, Jaki believes putting Geralt in a fanciful Japanese environment was an interesting exercise. And that tradition served as a link between Geralt and the new setting.


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“I personally enjoy experimenting with new creatures and folk tales,” Jaki explains. “Both Europe and Japan have a unique legacy in this area, and the most interesting part for me was integrating legendary Japanese myths and monsters into a Witcher Context.”


There were a few obstacles to consider. The phrase "witcher," for example, would not always be appropriate in a Japanese context. However, Jaki claims that in order to tackle this difficulty, he decided to follow the example set by previous Elseworld comics.


“We took inspiration from earlier Elseworld comics, such as Superman Red Son, where even if Superman landed in the CCCP instead of Kansas, he is still known as Superman in the United States - it's a creative license that allows people to have fun with the concept and grasp it quickly.”


Combining The Witcher and Japanese fantasy isn't a new concept. CD Projekt already has a range of high-end figures that can accomplish this. However, the concept of setting Geralt in a Japanese fantasy world predates both the figure and the manga.


The Witcher Manga's Beginnings

The Witcher manga had its start when Jaki and studio leader Adam Badowski attended the PlayStation Awards in Tokyo in 2015.


Before heading to Tokyo, Jaki and Badowski commissioned studio artist Robert Adler to create a pair of custom t-shirts with an illustration of Geralt as a ronin to wear to the gala event. Jaki, who also has a degree in Japanese philosophy from Warsaw University, mentioned that he always thought Geralt had a lot in common with the Japanese ronin (wandering swordsman).


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This three-page sketch laid the groundwork for Jaki and Hataya's upcoming 100-page comic. Editors will be Bartosz Szybor and Satoru Homma, CD Projekt Red's Japan manager, and letterer will be Eisner nominated artist Aditya Bidikar.


What is the point of Kickstarter?

Several Witcher comics have already been published by CDPR's publishing partner Dark Horse Comics. However, CDPR chose Kickstarter for the Witcher Ronin manga for two specific reasons: to make a collector's edition and to launch the manga globally.


The manga's development has already been paid for by CDPR. Instead, Jaki and team are using Kickstarter to raise money for a "kick-ass collector's edition" for fans who actually want to see the best version of The Witcher manga. This isn't a project for "the biggest potential audience," according to Jaki, but rather for "those who either adore The Witcher or yokai manga - or both!"


CDPR will use Kickstarter to directly engage the audience and solicit feedback on what they want from a collector's edition, as well as launch the book globally, in as many countries as possible.


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The Kickstarter campaign will kick off with a 100-page, full-color main story from Jaki and Hataya, as well as three 15-page mini stories from three different guest artists. The pre-launch Kickstarter page is already live, but there is no set release date for the actual campaign. However, CDPR claims that it won't be more than 60 days after the pre-launch page becomes up.

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