Director/writer Duncan Jones — whom you may know from his hyper-focused, small cast sci-fi films like Moon and Source Code, or the larger-scale Warcraft film that I admittedly never saw — has a new project out in the form of a graphic novel. Madi: Once Upon A Time In The Future is written by Jones and author/letterer Alex de Campi, with a huge team of artists including Ed Ocaña, Pia Guerra, James Stokoe, RM Guéra, Chris Weston, Rufus Dayglo, Annie Wu, David Lopez, Christian Ward, Matt Wilson, Nayoung Kim, Kelly Fitzpatrick, and many more. Here's a brief synopsis:
Madi Preston, a veteran of Britain’s elite special operations J-Squad unit, is burnt out and up to her eyeballs in debt. She and the rest of her team have retired from the military but are now trapped having to pay to service and maintain the technology put into them during their years of service. They're working for British conglomerate Liberty Inc as mercenaries, selling their unique ability to be remote controlled by specialists while in the field, and the debts are only growing as they get injured completing missions. We meet Madi as she decides she’s had enough. She will take an off-the-books job that should earn her enough to pay out her and her sister, but when the piece of tech she’s supposed to steal turns out to be a kid, and she suddenly blacks out... she finds herself on the run from everyone she’s ever known.
Madi is supposed to the final part of a trilogy comprised of Jones's other M-productions, Moon and Mute; while each story exists independently, they're also part of a loosely connected universe. Jones explained his reasoning for creating a graphic novel, rather than a film, in an interview with ScreenRant:
I think the reality is that in the world of IP driven content, it's damn hard to finance an indie at a big-budget level… and if you know my stuff, you know its always going to be a little off the beaten path. That said, Madi is a big, old-fashioned action story. The beauty of telling it through a graphic novel is that I needn’t make any concessions to budget or to shooting schedule. No worries over stuntmen getting hurt. No worries about seeking a four-quad balancing act. Instead, I get to experience the very real thrill of learning how some of the best people in the world of comics do their visual “floor set.” That run of visual gymnastics that adds a soundtrack through pictures. Madi is what Alex and I wanted it to be, but its also what the amazing roster of artists we are working with conjured up. And being a Brit who was brought up reading 2000 AD, I am getting to work with some of the legendary artists I grew up loving.
I, for one, appreciate the honesty here. I also appreciated Jones's honesty about the production process for the artists:
It was crucial to pay artists ahead of time. We couldn’t have gotten the book done and achieved what we did on Kickstarter without having so much art to show, which means paying people for that art. Look, we’re in the middle of a global pandemic and a lot of comics publishing has shut down or put people on furlough. You should never ask people to work for exposure anyway, but you’re a special villain if you do that while all the other cheques have stopped. We also wanted to distance ourselves from a few previous fundraising campaigns by other people where the money seemed to go all to them and none to their collaborators, which is why we also incorporated royalties into all our contracts. The more the book earns, the more the whole team gets.
The 260-page Madi graphic novel launched on Kickstarter on May 18, and as of this writing has already made six times its initial goal. Unlike many projects launched on Kickstarter, this one's already completed. That means there's no risk of inevitable disappointment for pouring out your wallet to support a potential project that never comes to fruition, and I can actually, realistically expect my hardcover volume to show up in November as promised. I've enjoyed all of Jones's output that I've seen so far, so I did not hesitate to jump on board and support this project as soon as I saw it.
If you need more convincing, you can download and read a 19-page preview right now.
Madi by Duncan Jones and Alex de Campi [Kickstarter]