9:00am PT by Graeme McMillan
Heavy Metal to Bring Sci-Fi Thriller 'Narcopolis' to Comics (Exclusive)
Even before British sci-fi thriller Narcopolis — which takes place in a near-future where all drugs are legal, and follows a policeman investigating a murder which may be connected with the largest corporate dealer — is released in U.S. theaters, its future dystopia has expanded to include a new standalone comic book series from Heavy Metal.
Written by Scott Duvall with art by Ralf Singh, Narcopolis: Continuum explores the world created by director Justin Trefgame and , without stepping on storylines from the movie itself.
"A companion piece is the most accurate description," Duvall told The Hollywood Reporter when talking about the relationship between the comic book series and the movie. "Our goal was for the movie and the comic to each stand on their own. The movie is not required viewing to enjoy the comic, but if you’ve seen the movie, it will certainly enhance the experience as you’ll catch nods to it as we weave in and out of the movie’s plot."
For Trefgame, Continuum offers a welcome chance to bring more of Narcopolis to the audience. "From the get-go we had an abundance of material," he said. "For the movie, the challenge was to boil these elements down to something that could work within a 90 minute narrative. This meant, inevitably, saying goodbye to some interesting characters and ideas. But the idea of expanding into other media was always burning at the back of my mind."
Duvall said that, from the earliest discussions surrounding the comic book, Trefgame wanted to step away from the movie's plot line. "He saw the potential to expand the world he’d created and see new stories be told utilizing these characters and concept," he explained. "I’m able to honor the source material, while also telling a fresh story that fits in to the narrative of the film, but doesn’t rely solely on it. In the movie, we see the protagonist Frank’s story play out, while his son Ben plays a minor, but key role. I saw this as an opportunity to fill in some gaps in time and further explore the other half of the father/son relationship that is at the heart of both stories."
The comic book series follows Ben as he invents "the ultimate drug" — something that allows him to travel back in time and discover the truth behind his father's disappearance two decades earlier. "Closure surrounding his father’s disappearance is the thing Ben has sought after the majority of his life, and our audience will get to see how that plays out for him over the course of these four issues," Duvall promised. "Drugs are such a ubiquitous part of this future society and he’s grown up in a world where they were literally offered to him like candy, so it’s only fitting that they would play a role on his path to discovery and he can now make the drugs work to his advantage. But while his motives come from a pure place, naturally he’s not the only one trying to take advantage of what this 'ultimate drug' can do."
Trefgame said that the partnership with Heavy Metal comes, in part, thanks to an influence on his own career as a filmmaker. "The Heavy Metal brand is a very appropriate one given how huge it was as an influence on one of my heroes, Ridley Scott. So, when Scott suggested it as an option I was all for it," he said. "I honestly couldn’t imagine a better home for this project."
The comic book series is just one of a number of potential spin-offs from the original movie, which stars Elliot Cowan, Elodie Yung and Battlestar Galactica's James Callis, and will be released in the U.S. next month by IFC Midnight. "Right now I'm working on a prequel concept that takes us back further into Grieves' backstory and also tracks the rise of the movie's antagonist, Todd Ambro," Trefgame revealed. "I can't say any more at this stage but I'm really excited."
Continuum: Narcopolis launches in November. The cover and solicitation for the first issue are below.
In the near distant future, genius inventor Ben creates the ultimate drug. No ordinary narcotic, its effects will take Ben on a trip through time in an attempt to uncover the truth behind his father’s disappearance twenty years ago. In searching for answers, the past reveals its secrets that the young scientist won’t accept, even if it means risking everything he’s worked for. Based on the UK sci-fi thriller starring Elliot Cowan (Da Vinci’s Demons), Elodie Yung (Marvel's Daredevil), James Callis (Battlestar Galatica), and Jonathan Pryce (Brazil), Narcopolis: Continuum explores new corners of the world introduced in the movie.