Final Fantasy is one of the most revered franchises in video games, and the concept seems like a good fit for comic books. And while there’s been manga based on Final Fantasy, it’s never made the jump to North American comic books. But once, it almost did – from titans of American comics Kurt Busiek and Mike Mignola no less.
Commissioned in 1990 by the Disney comics publishing imprint Hollywood Comics, the story was to be a four-issue continuation of the 1991 video game Final Fantasy IV (released in North America as Final Fantasy II). Busiek got the job by pitching an original story set in the Final Fantasy universe, with game publisher Square (now Square Enix) shifting him over to the adaptation of the then-forthcoming video game.
Four issues were written, Mignola drew four covers, and artist Dell Barras drew almost two whole issues. The project was announced but then canceled halfway through the completion of the second issue. Disney’s Hollywood Comics imprint was on a downward spiral and shuttered completely in 1993.
And according to Busiek, that might be for the best.
« If it was dug up today (and I have Xeroxes of it, somewhere), I don’t think Final Fantasy fans would like it, » Busiek wrote about it recently on Twitter. « The FF franchise has developed in some very specific ways, and we did this when there was only one FF game out in the US. The second was being readied, but the character names weren’t even decided on yet. I thought a bunch of them were bad names, and got the okay to rename a few. »
Among those renamed were engineer Cid, changed instead to ‘Lord Blast’ as an homage to Admiral Boom from Mary Poppins.
« I remember thinking that ‘Cecil’ was not a heroic-sounding name, and ‘Cain’ was possibly the worst ‘loyal friend’ name in the history of history, » Busiek continued, referring to Cain from the Bible.
Although this comic book sequel to Final Fantasy IV didn’t ever make it to completion, fans were able to return to the setting with two game sequels – Final Fantasy IV: Interlude and Final Fantasy: IV The After Years.
Read our rundown of the best Final Fantasy games of all time.