‘Not a hoax!’—Valve writers confirm the official Team Fortress 2 comic will continue, after over 7 years on ice

You can’t keep a good game down, and the ongoing drama around Team Fortress 2 remains one of the most curious and entertaining rollercoasters there is. First released in 2007, TF2 was an instant hit that found a huge audience, but what has truly distinguished it over the years is just how many people have stuck with it, even though latterly developer Valve has focused purely on maintenance and curating community-created content.

A recent exception to this was a long-running player revolt against bots, one manifestation of which was the classic internet petition, which reached a degree of intensity that spurred Valve into action: earlier this month it unleashed a bot-demolishing banwave against offending accounts, refused them leave to appeal, and the crowd went wild. TF2’s playercount more than doubled to around 145,000 over 24 hours, where it normally hovers around the 60,000 players mark (which is still an astonishing number for a 17 year-old shooter). 

As if that wasn’t enough excitement for July, now the fans have been given a whiff of their own white whale: new and official content from Valve. The studio’s last major content update for the game was in 2017, since when any official releases have been tie-ins with other titles, but per multiple TF2 devs it is going to be returning to the game’s tie-in comic series, for a seventh issue that is already fully written.

The TF2 comics are very funny indeed, and if you’ve ever dived into the game’s bonkers lore (or watched Meet the Team) you’ll have some idea of what to expect. The last issue was released seven years ago (The Naked and the Dead on January 10, 2017) and the news of a follow-up comes from Valve’s Jay Pinkerton.

Pinkerton was responding to a query from one PieSpie, a TF2 player who’s involved in an unofficial community comic project and asked the Valve writer (credits: Portal, Left 4 Dead, Half-Life Alyx, TF2) for some advice. 

“That’s amazing to hear you’re hard at work on this,” replies Pinkerton. “Just so you know, the same team that made the first six [TF2 comics] have been working on and off on issue number seven for a while now, in-between other projects. The script is finished and it’s being drawn as we speak. No promises when it will be released but it is being worked on. Here’s a sneak peek.”

Pinkerton shares the opening panels, which show vultures picking away at the skelli-fied remains of the TF2 mercs. Do note that this comic delights in ‘killing’ the cast repeatedly.

The first glimpse of the TF2 comic's seventh issue.

(Image credit: Valve Corporation)

The TF2 community reacted to this much like the Spy in header image, and began to scrutinise the email in detail to work-out whether this was a fake, or someone impersonating Pinkerton. Things went back-and-forth though the general sense was leaning towards it being legit, before Valve writer Erik Wolpaw (who’s worked on most everything the company’s done in the last two decades) removed all doubt with his own confirmation.

Sharing the subreddit thread where Pinkerton’s response had been posted, Wolpaw says simply: “Not a hoax!” He then goes on to expand on where the project’s at:

“Jay and I are done with script”, writes Wolpaw, sharing an image of the script’s last page that shows it’s a whopping 184 pages. “If me and Pinkerton die in a writing accident, comic still comes out. If [the artists] Heather and Maren die, though, you’re screwed. Pray for them. 3 variant covers!”

The TF2 comic's script for issue 7.

(Image credit: Erik Wolpaw / Valve Corporation)

I could reproduce various fan responses here, though the truth is it’s a hundred variants of “we’re so back baby” with all-caps, swearing and keyboard mashing to taste. They’re a mix of excited, gobsmacked, and naturally have moved right on to speculation about what else this might mean: in the past, after all, the release of new comics sometimes coincided with new content for the game itself.

That seems like a little too much huffing of the copium, though as we all know Valve moves in mysterious ways. The real take-home for the TF2 community over the last few months is surely more that they’re being listened to, albeit after a long period where the bot problem did seem to be spiralling out of control, and Valve is not just continuing to tinker with the game but still planning on official spinoffs. I’m not sure TF2 will ever quite be back in the way some of its community want, but it sure isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.