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Fanbase Press Interviews Jordan Mechner on Launching a Kickstarter Campaign for the Graphic Novel Adaptation of ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ with Magnetic Press

The following is an interview with Jordan Mechner (creator, Prince of Persia video game franchise) regarding the recent launch of a Kickstarter campaign for the graphic novel adaptation of The Count of Monte Cristo in collaboration with Magnetic Press. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Mechner about his creative approach to adapting Monte Cristo to the sequential art medium, what readers may take away from the modern interpretation, and more!

Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the launch of your Kickstarter campaign! What first intrigued you about transitioning this incredible piece of literature to the sequential art medium for modern audiences?

Jordan Mechner: Thanks! I reread Dumas’ Monte Cristo a few years ago, and it struck me how perfectly the plot and themes resonated with post-9/11 America. The premise that an innocent man could be detained indefinitely in prison without a trial, in the context of public fear of an outside threat that seems great enough to justify suspending civil liberties —and the idea that powerful people might take advantage of this situation to serve their own interests by getting an inconvenient person out of the way—struck me as frighteningly plausible today. For Dumas in 19th-century France, it was Napoleon that everyone was afraid of; in my time, it was Al-Qaeda.

A graphic novel was the perfect medium to tell a modern version of this story, because it’s simultaneously intimate and epic. The action spans two decades, from a small, working-class town in Connecticut (not far from where I grew up) to an island prison off the horn of Africa, Dubai, Croatia, the south of France, the lifestyles of the powerful and super-rich today in New York, Greenwich, Washington, D.C… It was important to show the specific details and texture of these different places, and also the nuances of human relationships and behavior. Mario is an artist who can do both. His pages are visually dynamic and cinematic. Our Monte Cristo is dense, multi-layered, and fast-moving; we needed to compress a large cast of characters, people and places, and plot into 210 pages. Mario was able to do justice to the complexity while letting the layouts breathe.

BD: The creative process of approaching an adaptation of a prior work – especially one as well known as The Count of Monte Cristo – can be a daunting experience. How would you describe your shared approach with artist Mario Alberti for breathing new life into the story?

JM: Dumas is a master at weaving unforgettable fictional characters into real historical events. His original Monte Cristo is an exciting adventure story set against an accurate, often scathing portrayal of his 19th-century society—the hypocrisy, the intersection of wealth, politics, status, and social climbing. Those themes are universal, but their expression in a particular time and place is specific and unique. Mario and I agreed that our modern Monte Cristo needed to be as specific and accurate about our world as Dumas was in depicting his. This meant that even though it’s set in present day, we approached it with as much rigorous attention to detail as if it were a historical piece. And this meant doing a ton of research.

I love working with Mario because he’s a demon for details, like me. He can happily spend an entire afternoon researching sailboats to figure out what make and model a particular character should own. On my side, I began by reading a lot of nonfiction: journalistic accounts of recent political and business scandals, memoirs of public defenders and prosecutors, FBI agents and directors, U.S. district attorneys, Guantanamo prisoners and lawyers.

In updating Dumas’ story to present day, I tried to look past the surface detail of his plot twists to the themes and emotions beneath them. Especially in the second half of the novel (which is over a thousand pages), he uses some plot devices that don’t translate literally to the 21st century. Things like fighting a duel to defend someone’s honor, or committing suicide because they’ve been ruined financially. And a few coincidences that are a bit too convenient, that you couldn’t get away with today. I strove to be faithful to Dumas’ plot and characters, especially the parts that are strongest and still work terrifically well, but take the liberties needed to build to a tighter, more suspenseful climax that pays off and does justice to his very strong beginning.

Our biggest change is the addition of a strong female character—a young FBI agent, Danica Djorjevic, who becomes Victor’s (Monte Cristo’s) foil and antagonist in the second half. She’s a sympathetic character the reader can identify with; she sees things clearly and is trying to do her job, but has very little power in the situation. One aspect of the original novel that has not aged well was Dumas’ choice of a new love interest for Monte Cristo—a young princess who passively adores him and is literally his slave, who he can go off at with at the end. I hope readers will enjoy our new ending and find it as gripping, moving, and satisfying as 19th-century readers found Dumas’ version.

BD: What makes Magnetic Press the perfect home for this project?

JM: Magnetic did a beautiful job with the English edition of Mario’s previous trilogy, The Wall (first published by Glénat in France, like our Monte Cristo), so this made it a natural choice. There was another, unexpected synergy: Mike Kennedy, Magnetic’s founder, had done graphics for the Macintosh version of the first Prince of Persia game, published by Broderbund Software in 1992. So, our paths had already crossed once before, early in our creative careers. It felt like the kind of twist of fate Dumas was always putting into his stories.

Magnetic Press and Mike are known for their attention to detail and for working closely with creators. Being perfectionists, Mario and I are really enjoying the opportunity to get in a few last licks as we combine the three volumes of our original French Monte Cristo trilogy into a single, 220-page complete one-shot graphic novel for the English edition.

BD: What are some of the backer rewards that you would like to highlight for those who support the Kickstarter campaign?

JM: There are so many! I’m personally looking forward to the “Executive Revenge” Bundle, which includes a metal bookmark and a black notebook both sporting the Monte Cristo corporate logo. I know I’ll use them a lot, because as a journal-keeper and sketcher, I’m constantly filling up sketchbooks.

Speaking of keeping a journal, my 1980s game-development diaries about the making of my early games, Karateka and Prince of Persia, will be reprinted in a special edition for the “Mechner Diaries” bundle. That bundle also has one of my recent artworks (from my graphic novel memoir Replay), in a limited-edition art card print. I’ll need to sign and number all those personally, so I’ll definitely be using the special pencil that comes with the Executive Revenge bundle.

BD: Are there any other upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?

JM: My latest release, Replay: Memoir of an Uprooted Family (published in English by First Second Books on March 19, 2024), is the first graphic novel I’ve drawn as well as written. It’s a memoir of my creative career of four decades making video games like Prince of Persia, interwoven with the story of three generations of my family: my dad’s flight from Vienna as a Jewish child refugee in 1938-41 through Nazi-occupied Europe, and my grandfather’s experience as a teenage Austrian soldier in World War I. After working with wonderful artists like Mario, and LeUyen Pham and Alex Puvilland on Templar (and, of course, all the great artists on Prince of Persia games over the years), it was a new and inspiring challenge to draw a book myself. Replay is the most personal project I’ve ever done, and I hope both videogame fans and graphic novel readers will enjoy it.

My next trilogy, Liberty!, is a historical adventure about the American Revolution. It’s drawn by Etienne Le Roux and Loic Chevallier, with colors by Elvire de Cock, and their work is spectacular. Like Monte Cristo, it’s being published first in French, as a trilogy (by Delcourt). We’re now up to volume two. I hope that like Monte Cristo, it will also be released in an integral English edition once the trilogy is complete (in 2025).

BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Monte Cristo and your other work?

JM: My website,, has all the latest news and information about Monte Cristo, Replay, and my other current projects—graphic novels and games—as well as a ton of behind-the-scenes and archival content from my past projects like Prince of Persia and The Last Express. There’s a free newsletter for subscribers, and a library I’m always adding to. Right now, you can find Monte Cristo prominently featured on the landing page.

Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief




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