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Onward's Manticore

The world of Onward was one that Pixar clearly took a lot of care in creating. The strange mix of the real and modern with the fantastic let to all sorts of interesting situations with characters that could potentially lead their own story. And as it turns out, one of those characters will get that chance very soon. Onward director Dan Scanlon has co-written an Onward prequel graphic novel that will follow the early adventures of the Manticore.

I recently had a chance to speak with Onward director Dan Scanlon and producer Kori Rae on the eve of Onward's Disney+ debut today, and asked them if they saw any potential for more stories in the world of Onward. With so many Disney franchises getting new series or shorts on Disney+, it seemed like Onward might be perfect for something like that. While it seems no plans for anything like that are in motion, at least not yet, Scanlon did reveal that, for those that are interested, an Onward prequel comic is coming...

[T]here’s also going to be a graphic novel that comes out, I think in May that is a prequel to the movie. It takes place 800 years before the movie and it’s the story of the Manticore in her glory days, her days of old. I co-wrote that with Mariko Tamaki who’s, in my opinion, one of the best comic book writers out there right now.

The prologue to Onward shows us what the world was like when magic was still widely used, and we'll get a chance to see more of that in the forthcoming graphic novel. We meet the Manticore, voiced by Octavia Spencer, in the modern world when she's running the fantasy equivalent of a TGIFridays. But long ago she was a fierce creature who presented great quests to adventurers .

Mariko Tamaki, the Onward director's co-writer on this project, has worked with a number of well known comic characters over the years including She-Hulk, Harley Quinn, and X-23. She's also won numerous awards for her original works including Skim, and Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me.

The prequel graphic novel won't be the only new thing in the world of Onward that's on the way. Any role-playing game fans who saw Onward likely loved all the Dungeons & Dragons references throughout the film, and now those players will get to actually play the game within the movie, as Quests of Yore is actually being turned into a real tabletop RPG.

One of the things that we’re excited about is we’re going to do a Quests of Yore game, so the game that Barley plays in the movie we’re making the actual game. And it’ll give people a chance to live in that world and live in the old days version of that world, we’re super excited about that.

Quests of Yore is an exciting idea because it has the potential to be a double layered RPG. Within the film, the game is historically based, so while the classes, like wizards and rogues, no longer exist, the races, like elves and dwarfs, are supposed to be "real." So as a player, one is therefore also some sort of fantasy creature.

While Onward's box office was cut short, the film is finding a new audience thanks to its digital release and now its arrival on Disney+. That audience might be very interested in continuing to explore the film's world. If anybody wants to setup a Quests of Yore party over Skype, hit me up.

Onward arrives on Disney+ today.

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