THE STORY: "Outsider" by Jim Francis (W & A)
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: An action/sci-fi story that follows Ensign Alexander Jardin — the sole survivor of a human exploration ship destroyed by an unknown alien force — as he is thrust into the middle of an intergalactic war, light years away from home. To further his isolation, he is the only male on a ship of female alien warriors known as the Loroi.
WHY IT WORKS: Francis places the audience on equal footing with Ensign Jardin, by letting the reader discover important information at the same time that he does. Jardin's internal monologue is also extremely compelling and depicts a man who is struggling to find his way through a truly alien situation. Likewise, the Loroi are shown to be a convincingly alien culture that is at least partially telepathic, which often leaves Jardin completely out of the loop as they communicate directly with each other.
Francis' artwork is a visually stunning mixture of traditional art and 3-D model work that gives "Outsider" a unique look among web comics. His style seems to be inspired by various anime and manga, but it has its own distinct identity.
WHY IT DOESN'T: "Outsider" has been online since 2001, but the story is still in its first chapter due to sometimes infrequent updates. Unfortunately, this makes it difficult to discern the long term direction of the story. As a live action film, "Outsider" would probably require a large budget to recreate the look of the aliens and the ships.
The Loroi would also have to be done convincingly, which means either extensive makeup or CGI would have to be used to bring them to life — similar to the way the Na'vi were realized in "Avatar."
HOW TO DO IT: "Outsider" should be an animated feature film or an animated series, preferably in 2-D animation to preserve the style of Francis' artwork. Of course, it could also work as 3-D animation or as a mixture of 2-D and 3-D animation, as the comic itself has already done.
Likewise, "Outsider" could also be a compelling live action film, provided a studio is willing to spend the money to remain accurate to the look and spirit of Francis' original work.
FINAL WORD: "Outsider" is more than worthy of being adapted into another medium. The comic is very well made and greatly deserves wider exposure. Also, someone should immediately hire Francis to work on "Outsider" full time, so we can finally see the rest of the story.
You can read all of the story to date at Outsidercomic.com.
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