TOASTY! Talking about Mortal Kombat X and the Mortal Kombat franchise with Shawn Kittelsen

Ever since it debuted in game arcades over twenty years ago, Mortal Kombat has become more than a video game franchise. It has spawned numerous sequels – including a series of motion pictures, a television series and comic books – all feeding a ravenous fandom.

No stranger to this franchise – or fandom – is Shawn Kittelsen, a video game producer turned comic book writer. He makes his debut in the four-color pages as the writer of “Mortal Kombat X”, a comic-book prequel to the like-named video game which hits store shelves today.

Kittlesen took a quick break from his writing (and gaming) endeavors to answer some questions about Mortal Kombat X; how he got involved with the comic; his favorite “kombatants”; who he’d like to see the MK Universe collide with next; and which MK console he’d like to have in his home:

Elliott: Hey Shawn! Congrats on making your debut in DC Comics with Mortal Kombat! Can you tell us about how you got involved with the project?

Shawn Kittelsen: Thanks for the congrats, Elliott! A few years back, I was a creative executive at DC working on their video games. One of my favorite projects was Injustice: Gods Among Us because I’ve been a fan of Mortal Kombat for over 20 years and suddenly I got to collaborate with NetherRealm Studios. Fast forward to last year, I’m working at an ad agency and writing by night, and I get a call asking if I’d like to pitch for this series. I put my heart and soul into that pitch, and now here we are.

E: I’ve written comics myself, but have always wondered how different it is to write for video games. Are there any differences that you feel are most remarkable?

SK: Writing a game itself is tedious. You don’t just write scenes, you also write long spreadsheets of dialogue and text, and when you do write scenes, there are a variety of game design and technical concerns to address over and over again.

Writing a comic based on a game, on the other hand, is a lot more fun, because it’s like someone handing you the controller and saying, “Play on!” All the backstories and side quests that you daydream about while you’re playing a game can take on new life on the comic book page. And with a game as iconic as Mortal Kombat, that world comes alive in such vivid detail that it’s fun just to turn over stones and discover every secret corner of someone else’s universe.

I’ve seen your work on Army of Darkness, so I know you appreciate that process!

Read more and check out artwork from the Mortal Kombat X Comic book after the jump!

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HQ Beercade brings Pac-Man and Holiday Joy to Sinai Children’s Hospital

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While they may not have been wearing red suits and hats on arrival, Brian Galati and his crew from Headquarters Beercade were playing the role of Santa Claus for the kids at Mount Sinai Children’s Hospital on Monday.

Even though they had already donated a classic Pac-Man arcade console to the Pediatric unit, Galati and Co. came bearing gifts from a last-minute trip to the toy store. “We couldn’t come empty handed,” Galati explained “There’s kids, it’s Christmas, we had to bring what we could. We stopped off and got a bunch of toys to bring some smiles over here.”

The act of generosity comes out of Capacity Bar Group‘s (the owners of Headquarters Beercade) philanthropic philosophy. “Our goal is to always give back.” Galati said. “We’re guys that worked very hard to get where we’re at, and we never want to forget where we came from. So the big goal for us is to take every opportunity we can to bring smiles out there, to help less fortunate people, and we love doing it.”

With their donation, patients at the pediatric unit are now be able to enjoy playing Pac-Man without having to feed quarters into the classic console, just like patrons of Headquarters Beercade.

The console was chosen both for its height, allowing kids of all ages and sizes to play, and it’s cultural significance. “In 1980 it was one of the first arcade games of its kind,” Galati said, “so we wanted to bring the originator.”

And how did Sinai Children’s Hospital become the place where they would play Santa Claus? “One of my business partners – Chireal Jordan – got in contact with a couple hospitals just to see if there was a possibility that we could start spreading some of the love,” Galati explained, “and Mount Sinai got back to us. We’re very thankful for it.”