If I were to say "Metal Gear Solid" to you, what would you think of first? Many would naturally think of one of the many video games by Hideo Kojima, perhaps the one of that name exactly, or maybe the most recently released, or your favourite in the series. But MGS has expanded far and wide and exploded beyond the boundaries of the video game world. It has toys, music and soon a film associated with it, but one area where very few video games venture is into the world of literature and graphic novels. This page illustrates the official MGS publications on the market.
In 2004 MGS started being released in comic format on a monthly basis. Ashley Wood was hired produce the artwork and the storyline was written by Kris Oprisko. The twelve issues were later collected into two volumes, and eventually one complete book. Following the graphic novel's success, Ashley Wood returned to draw the pictures for a Sons of Liberty graphic novel, this time written by Alex Garner. Again they were initially released as a series of comics, followed by two volumes and finally one complete book. It is unknown whether there are any plans to make any more graphic novels, but Snake Eater could be expected to be next. I personally am not a big fan of the graphic novels as I find the artwork incredibly disturbing and nightmarish and out of sync with previous MGS merchandise. I would have preferred the artwork to be by Konami artist Yoji Shinkawa, or a good Japanese manga artist. That's my own personal taste though, and many people do genuinely adore Ashley Wood's art...
Check out the comics on BBM's SkyDrive here.
The complete graphic novel for MGS was also released in a digital format for the PSP. It's not a game as such, nor a UMD video but more like an interactive book. Some of the pictures have been animated, and music has been added, but otherwise it's no different from the paper novels. There are plans to make a Sons of Liberty Digital Graphic Novel next.
I hoped it would happen one day. It took a good ten years, but finally, in 2008, Metal Gear Solid was turned into a novel, and rather successfully I believe (though of course that's just my opinion - you must read it for yourself!) The man who wrote the book, Raymond Benson (a James Bond novel writer), did so under the full authority of Konami, making the novel completely official. It sticks incredibly closely to the video game, with a few differences (I'm thinking primarily of what happens during Snake's encounter with Psycho Mantis!) and the ability to see things from other characters' points of view. What I like about it is its subtle references to events in MGS2, 3 and even 4 (mention of Emma Emmerich; Ocelot reminiscing about Big Boss [Naked Snake]; and Mantis predicting Snake will put a gun in his mouth one day, rather "Old"...). These references obviously couldn't have been made when the original game was released since Kojima-san hadn't even dreamt of them!
Raymond Benson returned to write up a novel of the second game in the series, Sons of Liberty. It reads much like the first novel, but there is very little intertextuality with the other games in the series this time. I personally found the novel quite good to read (and it made me want to play the game again!) I am particularly delighted that it helped me to get a firm grip on the plotline, something which was of secondary imporatance to me when I was playing the game and having so much fun knocking out guards and stuffing them in lockers that I forgot the serious (and complicated!) message behind it all. The novel is good, but it will never replace the game, but I'm sure it was never intended to. A worthwhile addition to any fan's bookcase.
MGS is one of the few video games on the market to devote so much attention to artwork. Normally artwork is merely a promotional tool - something to put on the front of the box, on posters or in the instruction manual. But Yoji Shinkawa, Konami's MGS artist has kept the artwork vibrant and alive for art's own sake. His works are extensive but some of his best works are compiled into MGS artwork books. Ashley Wood, artist behind the MGS comics, is also releasing an Art of MGS book.
Below are the main official MGS artwork books. From left to right: 1) The Art of MGS; 2) The Art of MGS2; 3) The Art of MGS 1.5 (post-Twin Snakes release); 4) The Art of MGS (included with the Limited Edition Brady Games MGS3 Strategy Guide - includes artwork of MGS1, 2 and 3; 5) Ashley Wood's Art of MGS (not yet released).