Blizzard Announces New Overwatch Variant Comic Covers by Afua Richardson

In celebration of Blizzard Entertainment's 30th anniversary, Overwatch's 5th anniversary, and Free [...]

In celebration of Blizzard Entertainment's 30th anniversary, Overwatch's 5th anniversary, and Free Comic Book Day's 20th anniversary, Blizzard is officially collaborating with Coca-Cola, Diamond, and artist Afua Richardson on two new variant covers for Overwatch: Tracer - London Calling #1, which is itself published by Dark Horse Comics. Two new variant covers from Richardson will be available to purchase in print exclusively during Free Comic Book Day 2021, which is on August 14th, and you can check out the first of the two -- with the second to be revealed at a later date -- below. Additionally, had the opportunity to speak with Richardson via email about the collaboration ahead of the official announcement today.

Now, you might be wondering: "How does Coca-Cola fit into all of this?" Well, that's simple, as anyone that purchases one of the two variant covers on August 14th will also receive Coca-Cola branded backboards and polybags. It is as simple as that. Diamond is the Free Comic Book Day 2021 part, Coca-Cola is doing the bags and boards, and Blizzard Entertainment is doing... well, the comic covers.

"As we celebrate both Blizzard's 30th Anniversary and Overwatch's 5th Anniversary this year, we also give recognition to our fans' full range of passion points that they celebrate throughout the year, from video games to comic books," said Matt Beecher, VP of Global Consumer Products at Blizzard Entertainment. "That's what makes our collaboration with Coca-Cola, Diamond Comics, and Afua Richardson for Free Comic Book Day's 20th Anniversary all the more special. Seeing the positive response to the Overwatch: Tracer – London Calling comic series, we knew this was the perfect moment to offer fans a true collector's opportunity through these exclusive variant covers."

You can check out the first of the two variant covers below, and keep reading to check out our email interview with Richardson:

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(Photo: Blizzard Entertainment) How did you get involved with drawing the variant Overwatch covers?

Blizzard reached out and asked if I would participate, so I was excited to venture into creating art for videogames as a fan! As far as games go, Overwatch is one of the greats, so it was such an honor to participate in such a monumental occasion celebrating 30 years of Blizzard gaming entertainment. No pressure or anything.

What did you hope to convey with your covers?

These covers mark a new era in the Overwatch universe. I wanted to answer the question, "What do heroes do when they're just living their everyday lives?" With so many different origins and backgrounds, something that unifies and strengthens bonds for me specifically is music. Part of this story gets into new friendships, and the power music has to unite them. Memories crystalized to a rhythm. These are the moments in Tracer's life that offer a time of reflection and meaning when she's not on a mission.

You've addressed and defined some pretty eccentric genre fare with your artwork ranging from superheroes to Lovecraftian horror. What did you find to be the most engaging new challenge in portraying the world of Overwatch?

The characters in the Overwatch universe are some of the most well-known and recognizable characters in the video game world. Every convention I attend, there are at least ten people I run into dressed as Overwatch characters! A big challenge for me was finding ways to conceptualize a moment not previously seen. I went through tons of sketches and racked my brain over how to convey a moment of stillness with these action-packed characters!

Did you have any experience with the Overwatch franchise before this work? What characters and elements from Overwatch caught your eye upon discovering it?

I've wanted to pick up the game for a while. Almost every GameStop I've been in they've been sold out. I love video games and I'd only ever heard good things about it. I was afraid I'd be addicted to it even though I'm pretty terrible at first-person shooters. A lot of my friends played, so I know I'll be glued to the screen! I think as a reward for finishing this project and the upcoming graphic novel Aquarius the Book of Mer, I'll pick up a copy so I can play without feeling guilty. I have a few "Art of" books and a few mini action figures from the series because the design is fantastic. I don't often take vacations, so video game staycations are where it's at for me right now.

Your figures and layouts possess a natural fluidity and grace that works very well when portraying superhero combat (especially in Wakanda). Did the Overwatch characters (Tracer, Iggy, Emily) push you to try something new or interesting that fans should anticipate?

Thank you! This time around, I wanted to focus more on the Chill aspect of the characters. They've seen so much action in the course of their story I thought it would be nice to give them some time to relax. Being a hero is hard work!

You also have Aquarius: The Book of Mer set to debut from Image Comics later this summer. Are you looking forward to any further opportunities to work in the world of Overwatch or video games further down the road?

On August 11th, 2021, right before Free Comic Book Day, Aquarius the Book of Mer will be released. It's awesome that both the Overwatch: Tracer – London Calling #1 variant covers and my first creator-owned graphic novel in 12 years will be on the shelves at the same time. As I create multi-media for the graphic novel in audiobooks and music, I look forward to learning more about the world of making videogames and perhaps one day making something for The Book of Mer. But I look forward to expanding my work beyond comics, and I would love to team up with Blizzard again soon.