The past few years have been good ones for fans of space epics, with at least some thanks to cinematic blockbusters like Guardians of the Galaxy, the new Star Wars films and Star Trek’s reboots, as well as recent Oscar-fodder like Interstellar, Gravity, Arrival and The Martian. The appetite for space-heavy sci-fi has moved from the fringes of geekdom into the mainstream, and just keeps growing and growing.
My theory? Terrestrial technology is surging forward at such an exponential rate that those of us stuck on earth feel like we are living in The Future – and if past depictions of The Future have taught us anything, it’s that we should be colonising the solar system and exploring the galaxy by now. (Srsly tho… it’s 2017 and we’re not even on Mars yet?!?!) It’s also this technological progress that has led to the resurgence in space-movie popularity: previously unfilmable settings and action sequences are now able to be captured convincingly thanks to advances in CGI and motion capture. Of course, we’ve had space films for decades, but the shots have always been limited by the technology available to their creators.
It’s a joyful thing then that one of the stories that can now be told on film thanks to advancing technology is in fact one of the oldest sci-fi properties out there: Valérian and Laureline.
Valérian and Laureline comes from the wild imaginations of writer Pierre Christin and artist Jean-Claude Mézières (with colourist Évelyne Tranlé). First published in Pilote magazine in 1967, the landmark series ran until 2010 and, more importantly, was a major influence in major science fiction films thereafter (notably, Star Wars and The Fifth Element).
The stories have been translated into several languages (including in English, published by Cinebook) and have been recognised through a number of prestigious awards, including the Grand Prix de la ville d’Angoulême. Following a 2007 animated series, Valérian and Laureline will finally appear on the big screen in 2017 in a feature film directed by Luc Besson: Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.
I don’t think I have to say this because the trailer alone makes it clear, but I’ll say it anyway: THIS FILM IS GOING TO BE BONKERS. The visual styling and the fact that Luc Besson is involved are drawing a lot of connections to The Fifth Element. So, you know, try to imagine that… on acid… and with Rihanna in. *swoon*
But you know what they say about movies based on books and comics – the original is always better, if for no reason other than the fact that films must cut out a lot of the subtext that makes stories great in order to keep runtimes reasonable. In the case of Valérian and Laureline, I can’t recommend enough that you delve into this intricate, vividly-colourful universe before the film comes out. The nuance of the stories told in the comics is what makes them so fun to read, as does the utterly-amazing-and-stunning artwork (I’m not even being slightly hyperbolic here). The comics are very much in the Franco-Belgian style (imagine the aesthetic of Tintin and Asterix), with bold outlines and colour, huge amounts of detail in every panel and lots of dialogue. It’s also truly witty – I found myself “hah”-ing and smirking on just about every page!
Most of all, I love the concept matter itself: the titular heroes are 28th-Century spatio-temporal agents who travel the universe through space and time to protect people living in Earth’s future utopia from temporal paradoxes caused by rogue time-travellers. Thus ensue battles of good versus evil, as well as universal themes of humanism. Eat your heart out Jean-Luc Picard! It’s easy to see why this series has 50 years of staying power behind it.
And so, for those who wish to experience Valérian and Laureline before the film’s release, we have single issues of Volumes 1-16 (with Volumes 17-20 out in the next few months), as well the incredibly lovely Complete Collections, which collect together multiple issues alongside exclusive interviews with Luc Besson, Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mézières; exclusive features on the history of the series; and lush behind-the-scenes photos from the set of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.
Not yet convinced? Check out our preview:
9781849183529 h/b £24.99
Post by Sarah W.