In case you were wondering: no, it wasn’t a dream. The Firefly prequel comic is really happening.
Simply titled Firefly, the Boom! Studios series will take us back to the Unification War, the bloody conflict between the powerful Alliance and various independent planets that left Captain Malcolm Reynolds and his second-in-command Zoë Alleyne on the run. It’ll also provide a deeper look into how Mal and Zoë became BFFs, from their first meeting to the development of their die-hard bond, and how they deal with the trauma of intergalactic war.
Bringing this story to life is Dan McDaid, whose art you may know from such comics as Judge Dredd: Mega-City Zero, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Doctor Who, and Jersey Gods, among others, and/or from his pen-and-ink pieces on Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr.
The Scotland-based artist has also collaborated with Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh on a comic in IDP: 2043, a sci-fi anthology about climate change and Scotland, and provided interior illustrations for Welsh’s recent novel Dead Men’s Trousers. Additionally, he’s drawing issue #12 of DC’s relaunched Doom Patrol, out in October, and has supplied gorgeous pinup art earlier in the comic as well.
And let’s not forget his secret upcoming project with the singer Ryan Adams, which apparently involves sweet AF haircuts and future swords:
So how does that lead to drawing the war that rocked the galaxy? According to McDaid, it all started with an email from Boom! senior editor Dafna Pleban. “Me and Boom! have got quite a nice relationship, and we’ve worked together a few times in the past,” he said, referring to his work on the Big Trouble in Little China and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes comics. “So I guess it was kind of off the back of that.”
While he wasn’t very familiar with the Firefly TV show before signing on (although, he clarified, he loved the Serenity movie), McDaid was “excited straightaway” to work on the comic. At first, it represented “the chance to work with Boom!, the chance to work with Greg Pak, and an opportunity to draw lots of cool [stuff] like cowboys and spaceships.” Then once the official announcement dropped, he found another source of excitement for the comic: the Browncoats.
“The Browncoats are everywhere,” he said. “People I would never have expected to be Firefly fans came out and said, ‘Ahhh! I love Firefly!’ and ‘I’d give my right arm to work on that!’ It was a huge reaction that I really, really didn’t expect…Even the local newspaper wanted to talk to me about it.” Considering McDaid lives in a small post-industrial city that was voted one of Scotland’s most “struggling” cities, making it into the paper for drawing the Firefly prequel comic was no mean feat.
Given the show’s dedicated fanbase, McDaid was particularly surprised by the lack of negative backlash to the comic being announced. “I kind of expected, at this point, that people would look back through my work and think, ‘Maybe he’s not that great a fit,’ or whatever, but there’s been nothing like that.” No salty tweets, no internet complaints, no weird emails. “It’s just been excitement, really. And it has jazzed me up to be even more excited than I was to begin with. Whenever I think about it, there’s this little sort of flutter of energy.”
It helped, too, that his artistic presence has a strong social media component. “Having work out there of, say, fan favorite characters,” he said, “is a good way to stick in people’s minds, and I have picked up fans through that. They may not even necessarily know that I’ve worked on this book or that book, but they’ve seen my work on Instagram or they’ve seen my work on Twitter or whatever.”
This online catalogue also came in handy when setting up the initial details for the Firefly comic. “When Boom! showed me the artwork they wanted me to draw and said they had a specific style in mind,” McDaid recalled, “it wasn’t, ‘We want you to draw it the way you did Doctor Who.‘” Instead: “It was these sort of little fun pieces that I’d done for Instagram or I’d done for Twitter.” Pieces, in short, like these:
It’s an aesthetic that translates well to Firefly‘s space-Western setting. “I like drawing things that I would consider to be gnarly…[and] there’s a gnarliness built into Firefly,” he explained. “The whole aesthetic is kind of rundown: the ship is rundown, everywhere they visit is kind of a shantytown. I think, actually, that’s the main thing that appealed to me, that flyblown, windswept frontier feel.”
You could easily imagine folks like these downing shots in some dive bar at the edge of the galaxy. Just try and take the sky from them.
Firefly #1 will be gnarlin’ it up in November this year.
What are you most excited to see in the Firefly prequel? Tell us below!
Images: 20th Century Fox, DC Comics