The last issue of Heavy Metal Media’s Narcopolis: Continuum, based on the T Squared Films production Narcopolis, is on sale today, written by Scott Duvall with Ralf Singh on art. While writing time travel tales can be perilous territory, both in terms of novelty and consistency, Duvall has more than proven that he’s adept at spinning a sci-fi yarn that’s alternately compelling and thought-provoking.
Mr. Duvall spoke with me recently about the miniseries as a whole, his love of sci-fi, and the themes of Narcopolis: Continuum.
FreakSugar: For folks who might just be coming in on the series, how would you describe Narcopolis: Continuum?
Scott Duvall: It’s a story about the bond between a father and son and the lengths they will go to to save one another. The events take place in a futuristic setting where the son is now a grown man and his life revolves around tracking down his dad. He uses his genius to unlock the key to time travel (a synthesized drug) to discover the truth about his father’s disappearance. Things only get more complicated from there.
FS: How did you first become involved with the project?
SD: The comic is an extension of the indie UK movie Narcopolis. Long story short, my wife introduced me to the lead actor, Elliot Cowan, who then introed me to writer/director Justin Trefgarne. He was looking to expand the world he had created into comics and we got to talking. I read the script, pitched him my take on the material, and then everything developed quickly from there. Next thing I know, Heavy Metal is publishing it!
FS: Have you seen Narcopolis? How does your tale fit into the larger world the film sets up?
SD: I’ve seen the movie a few times. And if anyone is curious to check it out themselves, it is currently streaming on Netflix. Before it was released I had seen multiple versions as I was watching some of the earliest cuts pre-SFX while I was writing my story. Basically, what Justin and I set out for this project to do was to not serve as a continuation or a direct sequel of what he had put on screen, but a companion piece that could work alongside the film and also stand alone. Based on reactions I’ve read from people who have never seen the movie and this was their first introduction into that world, I feel like we accomplished that.
Going into it, I knew that I wanted to make use of all the pre-existing characters. There wasn’t really any reason to create new ones as I had a full cast of fleshed out characters to play with. My story weaves in and out of the movie’s plot and tells you an original tale that fills in some gaps before, during, and after events that took place in the film. If you’ve seen the movie, great, hopefully it will enrich your reading experience. Otherwise, sit back and enjoy the ride as we take you on a journey which takes full advantage of the time travel element.
FS: Ultimately, what about Narcopolis appealed to you on such a level that you wanted to dive in?
SD: I had been working on a handful of original pitches up to that point and when this opportunity arose, I felt I had to seize it. The idea of playing in someone else’s sandbox really appealed to me. Justin trusting me to help create a new work that ties into his film was also a unique responsibility and I felt up to the challenge. All that plus time travel is what sold me on the concept in a big way. Sci-fi is one of my favorite genres to read and write in so the material clicked with me immediately.
FS: Reading the miniseries, the story seems to share DNA with a lot of other classic sci-fi stories in the same vein as Narcopolis. In creating this expanded universe story, what tales influenced you personally as you crafted what you wanted to say?
SD: Blade Runner is the obvious one. The movie Narcopolis certainly owes a lot to Ridley Scott’s classic tonally so in recognizing that, I also used it as inspiration. I wanted to pay tribute to some of my favorite sci-fi authors with this such as Philip K Dick, Ray Bradbury, George Orwell, and William Gibson.
I will say one of the things that really influenced me was the Star Wars expanded universe books. I read a bunch of those growing up and some of my favorites were Tales From the Mos Eisley Cantina and Tales From Jabba’s Palace. I loved how there were stories written that took place off screen during the movie and helped to enrich the universe and add new back stories for side characters and that’s exactly what I wanted for this project.
FS: For readers who’ve been following the series since issue one, what can you tease about what they can expect with the big finale?
SD: Without giving too much away, we get to spend more time with one of the most pivotal characters from the movie who we saw briefly in issue 1. It’s a turning point for our protagonist Ben and sets up a big decision he must make in order to seal his fate.
FS: If there’s a takeaway you want readers to have after finishing Narcopolis, what would it be?
SD: I wrote a little bit about this in the afterword, but the biggest takeaway for me in telling a time travel story is how precious our time is and that we should try and make the most of what time we’ve been given. I am trying to get better about this myself and it helps me to stay productive and constantly working to better myself. I’m not suggesting that it’s going to be a life changing event reading this story. Ultimately, I want readers to walk away entertained, but hopefully there’s a little bit more than passive entertainment under the surface and it’ll make you reflect on your own life a little.
FS: Do you have any plans to further explore Narcopolis?
SD: I’m not ruling anything out. I was just talking with the creative team the other day and they asked me the same thing so it’s nice to know they’re up for more! The short answer is there are no immediate plans to revisit this world anytime soon, but should opportunity knock twice, I’ve got more stories to tell.
FS: Do you have any other projects coming down the pike?
SD: Nothing that has been announced yet, but like any good writer, I’ve got a handful of projects in various stages of development. With any luck, you’ll be hearing about them in the future!
Narcopolis: Continuum #4, written by Scott Duvall with Ralf Singh on art, is on sale now from Heavy Metal Media.