All my life I’ve been inspired by science fiction. Because, at its best, sci-fi asks the hard questions about where we’re going as a species.
I’m Jeffrey Morris. I’m a writer and artist. But I’m also a dude who looks to the future and tries to figure it out. In fact, I publish a blog about space, science, and tomorrow at FutureDude. I prefer sci-fi that's directly related to our future. Speculative stories that are based on the realities of science and technology. 2001, Blade Runner, and Firefly are among my favorites.
I’ve designed tons of spacecraft and tech in my day. I like the challenge of creating craft that might even be able to function if they were built. I’ve also written and published a couple of sci-fi books recently including the illustrated screenplay Slingshot that features a foreword by astronaut Buzz Aldrin. My relationship with him grew out of working with NASA over the past ten years to help them improve their public image.
As Gene Roddenberry is remembered for creating Star Trek, I want to be known as the guy who pulled off his own ‘Solar System Trek.’ Right now, I’m doing this via graphic novels. I love the comic medium, and want to reach an audience that normally doesn’t read comics. There’s nothing wrong with superheroes, they just aren’t my mission.
I prefer astronauts, scientists, engineers -- real heroes. Characters that don’t need magical powers to be cool. They keep it real while using their wits, guile, and keen intellect to survive out on in the final frontier of space.
My company FutureDude Studios is focused on bringing high-quality original sci-fi content to the world of print and digital comics. We’re based in Saint Paul, Minnesota -- off the beaten path of mainstream science-fiction media production.
We try our best to make every story we tell at FutureDude Studios realistic and plausible. Our contacts with NASA scientists help to keep us on the straight and narrow, while we create great human stories -- most of which are set in the next 100 years within our Solar System.
THE DAEDALUS SAGA
With my very talented co-writer Ira Livingston, I’ve developed a series of sci-fi stories called the Daedalus Saga. The first graphic novel, Venus: Daedalus One was published in May, 2012. The story centers around an engineer named Dez Clarke and a team of explorers who travel to our deadly neighboring world. Venus is an awful place with scorching 900 degree temperatures, sulphuric acid rain, and a crushing atmosphere. Dez has designed a platform that can float above all of that and allow for research.
There to witness a historical geologic event, the scientists have brought along a number of exospheres -- cybernetic organisms with artificial intelligence. In our story, the exospheres are so evolved that they are lobbying for status as ‘legally and functionally sentient’. You can imagine the tension that this produces between humans who see the exos as ‘things’ or at best servants. The adventure unfolds in intense and surprising ways, and has been praised for its handling of an AI civil rights struggle.
Here is a recent radio interview where I discuss the Daedalus Saga at large:
I produced and art directed Venus over a period of 18 months with the help of a team of talented artists including penciller, inker and colorist Chaz Truog. He’s an industry professional with over 20 years experience working for both DC and Marvel on such titles as Spider-Man, Animal Man and Jurassic Park. Chaz was supported by Fuzzy Duck Studios and other members of my team like Fredrick Haugen and Cort Bechtell.
FROM VENUS TO MARS
So, why’d Venus take so long? Well, it was basically a labor of love while we all kept our day jobs. I’m very happy to say that our diligence and follow-through worked out. An educational publisher, Tumblehome Learning, was so impressed by the science content in Venus that they published it earlier this year. It’s currently selling well and already in its second print run.
Tumblehome focuses on educational sales to schools and libraries. And they're selling Venus internationally. There’s already a Mandarin translation for the Chinese market. Talks are happening in Europe as well. In the midst of all of this, Tumblehome asked us for Mars: Daedalus Two -- the next story in a projected series of four.
Mars is set five years after Venus when Dez Clarke and the exosphere Alpha are forced to steal a nuclear rocket. They travel to the Red Planet to save a group of rogue exospheres who’ve uncovered an ancient mystery. During their journey, they visit some of the biggest geological features in the Solar System -- like Olympus Mons, a volcano the size of Arizona; and Valles Marineris, a canyon that, on Earth, would span the continental United States!
Mars: Daedalus Two goes deeper into the mysteries of artificial intelligence and explores the potential for extraterrestrial life. Tumblehome is excited to get it into even more distribution catalogs than Venus for Fall 2013. To make this deadline, we can’t take 18 months again. This time we have to do the whole thing in less than eight! And, of course, we already started.
We've streamlined our production process for Mars based upon what we learned before, and can deliver an even more spectacular product in less time. Ira and I have already written the whole story, and I’ve created designs for spacecraft, rovers, and other technology. Chaz is over halfway through inking the first of four chapters. We're all moving with a purpose.
THE BOTTOM LINE
We need your help to fully fund all aspects, including coloring, lettering, layout, and pre-press. We have a supremely talented team on this project and, as you can see with the Venus graphic novel, we’ve already pulled it off once. We’ve proved we can do it. We're excited to do it again with Mars: Daedalus Two.
If you like, you can see more artwork from Mars at FutureDude Comics.
Take a look at the great rewards we're offering. Besides the digital and print editions of Mars, you can get Venus (with its new 2nd print run cover that features a quote from October Sky author Homer Hickam!). Also, we’re offering original pages of art from both comics -- pencilled, inked, and signed by Chaz.
Do you want to be a part of the story? You can be drawn in as a character! As opposed to Venus which was an intense claustrophobic drama with five people on a small ship, Mars is a sweeping tale. We're going to meet dozens of new characters and one of them can be you!
We'll be recording video updates and interviews throughout the process and we promise to keep you regularly updated on the project -- in a way that's both fun and behind-the-scenes.
SPREAD THE WORD
So, if you’re a fan of what-they-used-to-call ‘hard sci-fi,’ then please consider joining us. And send this link to your friends. If we go beyond our goal, we’ve got a really cool idea for a new milestone -- an animated enhancement for the digital edition that will rock your socks off.
Thanks for reading this and for considering our project. I promise that you’ll love Mars: Daedalus Two, and we truly appreciate the opportunity to create it and share it with you.
* Note that the ‘digital’ editions includes a copy for our FutureDude Studios app (for iPhone and iPad), CBR format, and PDF.
** Special thanks to Zen Darius for the tight music track in our project video.
CHECK OUT THE REWARDS!
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