What if, after a deadly cyberwar eradicated technology as we know it today, humanity attempted to rebuild our tech-obsessed society through biological means? That’s the futurist premise of Comixology’s latest original graphic novel — and we have a look inside.
Written by Mark Sable and with art from Kristian Donaldson, colours by Lee Loughridge, and letters from Thomas Mauer, The Dark is set in 2045, on a post-war Earth where a devastating war has essentially eradicated all technology.
It’s actually inspired by a short story Sable wrote for his work as a futurist theorist for The Atlantic Council’s Art of The Future program, which gets creatives like writers and film directors to help the U.S. Military and Intelligence agencies imagine the future of warfare.
“I’m a writer and a futurist, and The Dark feels like the culmination of both careers,” Sable said in a statement provided to Kotaku. “Most of my excitement comes from the work artist Kristian Donaldson has done literally bringing our vision of post-cyberpunk future to three-dimensional life. I’ve never seen comic art like this before!”
Donaldson’s approach to The Dark’s design work does indeed have a bit of a tech-y twist: instead of traditional freestyle drawing, digitally or otherwise, Donaldson’s linework is actually built off of 3D models, from a catalogue he has curated for years.
“It’s the equivalent of shooting a film and having all your sets built out, and all your actors in costume — every building, every room, every chair, gun, car and helicopter has been sourced and built and put together to make ‘shots’ with a free camera in virtual space,” Donaldson explained in a press release. “There have been other books using 3-D but none quite like this by a single artist. I assembled a stable of 3-D assets for over five years now before drawing a single page.”
“I hope this book finds an audience with everyone in the world,” he added in a statement to Kotaku. “I can’t wait to see it in guided view. Thanks to Ivan Salazar!”
As well as collaborating with Donaldson, Loughridge and Mauer, Sable worked with consultant Mey Rude to help develop the book’s main themes and lead characters: Master Sargeant Carver, a blinded soldier equipped with biotech eyes tasked with a dangerous secret mission but especially for Camille, a trans, biopunk fugitive on the run from Carver’s masters.
“It’s been really wonderful working with Mark and Kristian on this book,” Rude told Kotaku. “Camille is a complicated and fun character who I think a lot of readers, especially trans readers will enjoy and relate to. Cyberpunk and themes of bio-engineering have always been favourites of queer and trans people and to see a trans woman starring in a story about that has been great! I loved working with Mark and Kristian on making sure Camille seems real and relatable but also has her own story to tell. That’s what I love about her, she’s got a lot going on that trans readers will love, but also this is her story, not a generic trans one.”
Having Camille’s identity as a trans woman was an important perspective Sable wanted to include in a story about transhumanism and the future at large. “My hope is that readers will not just appreciate our near-future world-building, but be drawn in by the characters as well.
While The Dark deals with themes of transhumanism, at the heart it’s a very human story,” Sable added. “Master Sergeant Carver is a wounded cyber-warrior, forced to hunt fugitives in order to keep the bio-engineered implants the government gave him.
Camille is that fugitive, a trans biopunk who appears to have stolen data from the NSA’s biocomputer. There’s plenty of action, but Carver and Camille’s relationship is what drives this unique story. I’m excited for the world to share their triumphs and tragedies with us.”
Check out a preview of The Dark below, making its debut here exclusively on Kotaku.
Want to see more? You won’t have to wait much longer — to celebrate the impending arrival of New York Comic Con, The Dark will be available through Comixology — either to purchase or for free as part of Prime Reading, Kindle Unlimited and Comixology Unlimited — starting October 3.