WHAT IT’S ABOUT: In the not too distant future, a virus breaks out that shortens the human lifespan to 21 years. Two hundred years later, the ranks of humanity have dwindled down to an unlucky few, separated into tribes that live amongst the wreckage of a forgotten civilization.
But when Sundog of the Sky Shadows tribe discovers a stranger that’s considerably older than the average lifespan, the young hero embarks on an adventure that could redirect the future of mankind.
WHY IT WORKS: When you’ve received praise from creators like John Cassaday and Paul Pope, you know you’ve done something right. Such is the case with “Tribes: The Dog Years,” a relentless 200-page wide-screen graphic novel that takes readers into a dystopian future that shares eerie similarities with our present day. The story is populated with memorable characters and, just as importantly, lush designs and bold ideas, forging a visceral science fiction and fantasy hybrid. If “The Matrix,” “Mad Max,” “Lord of the Rings” and “Final Fantasy” melded together in a freak accident of science, “Tribes: The Dog Years” would be the wholly awesome result.
WHY IT DOESN’T: “Tribes” succeeds because of the limitless imagination of its creators, but perhaps that’s the story’s biggest obstacle in becoming a major motion picture — frankly, it would be very expensive to produce. But directors like Duncan Jones and Neill Blomkamp have proven recently that top notch science fiction can exist without a major Hollywood budget, so perhaps an inventive indie filmmaker could overcome the story’s demanding budget.
HOW TO DO IT: Inaki Miranda’s art style is such a main draw of “Tribes” that it’s almost impossible to imagine the story as anything but an animated series; I worry that a live-action adaptation wouldn’t capture Miranda’s magic in the way that it deserves. Still, a series of live-action movies could work just fine as long as the right creative team was in place to shepherd the films to theaters.
FINAL WORD: “Tribes” invites readers into a breathtaking world of futuristic fantasy, complete with core themes that resonate in the modern era. It’s a timeless tale that would sit quite comfortably alongside the greatest works of science fiction and fantasy, if given the chance to reach a broader audience by way of film and television.
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