Writer: Tom Woodman Art: Rupert Smissen Publisher: Self-published through Unbound Publishing
WHAT IS IT?
A sci-fi adventure/character study that, at its heart, is a greater commentary on hope and love.
It definitely has an Interstellar feel to it, with a similar concept. It has comic and dramatic elements, but leans a little harder to the latter.
Also, the cover, pictured here, reminded my little indie/emo/folk-rock heart of some classic Bright Eyes lyrics:
"The future hangs over our heads And it moves with each current event Until it falls all around like a cold steady rain Just stay in when it's lookin' this way."
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Two women, Murray and her wife Kay, must go on a dangerous mission that could help detect and avoid natural disasters and generally save people's lives.
But one of them is dying. She barely has any time left.
However, there's hope. If they do this, the government promises to pull all the stops for her, offering any and every treatment they have to help save her life. Even if they can't get back, they have to go. To save Murray. To save the world.
The first thing that hit me with Future is its absolutely stunning, photorealistic artwork, both in its cover art and the interiors. There's a haunting quality to it, its nighttime shots and rainy panels subliminally alluding to a dark future and a dying planet. One specific beautiful scene in the rain brings so much intimacy and closeness to the characters' relationship without ever having to color it in with heavy dialogue or exposition.
Rupert Smissen colors his own work, which lends a cohesiveness to the art. It makes sense that the rare sunny moments would be thematically linked to the character Kay, who is bubbly and optimistic.
Smissen also gives a lot of thought to panel layout. Sometimes traditional, sometimes dynamic, it really works for the sci-fi themes and faster-paced scenes. One of my favorite parts was showing a long trip in a car over three panels, where the car is in the exact same position, but the sky and the world around them changes. It's a very cool effect!
Tom Woodman brings so much personality to this story, especially through its main characters. As seemingly two polar opposites, the two women balance each other out. Murray is stoic, thoughtful, and pessimistic – an understandable result of a dying world and having maybe only a month to live. Kay, her wife, is bombastic, passionate, funny. Her optimism and humor lighten what could otherwise be a very dark, hopeless book. Watching the tension between these two sets of beliefs, yet watching the two support each other nonetheless, makes up the core of Future.
You get a sense that Woodman and Smissen worked closely on Future, and trust each other to convey what they need to. Though there are parts when dialogue can get pretty heavy, it works with the scene and doesn't feel like a slog. It could be because when the characters talk, the way they speak feels so natural, like you're just watching friends of yours having a conversation.
I love that the story feels so mainstream and approachable, and that its central characters are two women, married to each other. We're moving in the right direction when it comes to representation, and I'm all for it.
Often, in TV or film, a character will be terminally ill and still look fantastic. Smissen draws Murray as gaunt and sickly. She looks a hair's breadth away from death, and her fragility is a constant reminder of how careful our protagonists need to be in what might otherwise be an exciting adventure.
The first issue made its premiere on Free Comic Book Day, and came with some enjoyable backmatter that was an extension of the info on the Unbound site where it's being crowdfunded. I always love the behind-the-scenes stuff like this and hope we get more when the. book comes out.
WHAT DOESN'T WORK?
Cursing may make it not an ideal book for young kids.
Currently, the price for the book starts at $25 for the digital edition. For hardback, it's $30 + international shipping costs. Plus, as of right now, you presumably have to wait until the book is finished before you get it. With no way to pay for individual issues, it can feel like a steep price to pay. However, let me assure you: if the rest of the book is the same quality as this first issue, it's more than a fair price.
The description of the comic on the Unbound site, as well as the pitch section of the backmatter, spoils some of the plot points, though it does offer some pretty effective hooks.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
A lot of media these days forget the human element of a story. It's not just comics, it's everything. They go through the motions of a story, but the real heart of the piece gets edited out somewhere before the final cut.
Future is an anomaly. It faces the end of the world with hope and love and optimism all within a single, monstrously compelling story.
About halfway through this first issue, I paused and thought, "I want to read this forever." I haven't seen the rest of the story, but if it's anything like what I've read so far, Future is poised to be the best crowdfunded comic of the year.
If you like apocalyptic science fiction, or simply beautiful stories in general, you need to fund Future on Unbound today and help it get made.
The Future is in your hands.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan & Cliff Chiang
We Have To Go Back by Jordan Alsaqa & Sally Cantirino
Arcadia by Alex Paknadel & Eric Scott Pfeiffer
If you like the art:
The Fuse, Vol. 1 by Antony Johnston & Justin Greenwood
Lazarus, Vol. 1 by Greg Rucka & Michael Lark
The Resurrected by Christian Carnouche & Crizam Zamora
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Tom Woodman – Writer
New Face: Perhaps surprisingly, this is Woodman's first comic
Multitalented: He works as a fiction editor for his day job
Is very possibly the most charming person on Twitter
Rupert Smissen – Illustrator, Colorist
New Face: Also shockingly, this is Smissen's first comic
Multitalented: He has also done award-winning work for brands and publications
Co-lettered the comic with Tom Woodman
HOW DO I BUY IT?
Currently, the only way to buy it is to:
The image(s) used in this article are from a comic strip, webcomic or the cover or interior of a comic book. The copyright for this image(s) is likely owned by either the publisher of the comic, the writer(s) and/or artist(s) who produced the comic. It is believed that the use of this image(s) qualifies as fair use under the United States copyright law. The image is used in a limited fashion in an educational manner in order to illustrate the points of the author and not for the purpose of entertainment or substituting the original work. It is believed the use of this image has had no impact on the market value of the original work.
All Tom Woodman & Rupert Smissen characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are trademarks of and copyright Tom Woodman & Rupert Smissen or their respective owners. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED