Did you know that Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets was inspired by the typical European comic book sci-fi aesthetic? While you wait for Luc Besson’s visual treat to come to the big screen, here are the comics you can read to get the hype train rolling!
5. 'The Incal'
This Franco-Belgian sci-fi adventure is the brainchild of some of the biggest names of visual arts. The adventures of John Difool, a low-class detective in a degenerate dystopian world, were penned by none other than the mystic Alejandro Jodorowsky, and drawn by Jean Giraud (Moebius), Zoran Janjetov, and José Ladrönn.
It provides an offbeat comical social commentary that dabbles with the spiritual evolution of an Everyman, and the visual world-building is spectacular — after all, the world of Incal was created on the abandoned designs of Moebius’ cinematic project, the Dune movie that never was.
4. 'Lightstep Chronicles'
This is a new dystopian space opera devised as an ongoing comic book series that will awaken the European comic book art style from its slumber. Combined with the novel “The Uncommoner’s Gene” and an upcoming video game, it forms an expansive narrative that tells the tale of a strange and colorful world where the entire lifespan of the underprivileged lasts as much as a single day in the life of the mighty. Join an exile and a space pirate as they unravel the mystery of an eerily prophetic 1930’s radio program. Lightstep Chronicles is currently available through its Kickstarter page.
3. The Nikopol Trilogy
Today, The Nikopol Trilogy is best known as the source material behind the dystopian classic Immortel. This Franco-Belgian series of three graphic novels is the one man show of Yugoslavian-born author Enki Bilal. The cyberpunk story is set in a trans-human, fascist future and represents a colder, more psychological and introverted counterweight to the sci-fi favorite The Fifth Element.
Don Lawrence’s sci-fi/fantasy crossover comic book series was a bumpy ride. He was originally hired to do a comic strip for a weekly publication, but after that failed, he pushed forth his own idea for Storm. There are many set pieces and storylines that create the world of Storm, but essentially they can be grouped into two parts: The Chronicles of the Deep World and The Chronicles of Pandarve. What really makes Storm stand out is the organic way the epic fantasy elements blend in with the sci-fi elements.
1. 'Valérian And Laureline'
Last but not least comes the source material itself. Valérian: Spatio-Temporal Agent is a sci-fi comic book franchise created by writer Pierre Christin and artist Jean-Claude Mézières. This beloved European bestseller was the simple Franco-Belgian answer to the grandiose American superhero comic book genre, then prevalent even in France. The visual art style of The Fifth Element was greatly inspired by Valérian, which shouldn’t come as a surprise — Mézières was the art director of both.
What do you think of this list? Did I miss something? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.