The empire strikes back against space invaders

By Russell Baillie

Concept artist Greg Broadmore has plans for a film and game. Photo / NZ Herald
Concept artist Greg Broadmore has plans for a film and game. Photo / NZ Herald

Invading Earth armies colonising other planets? Funny how similar ideas can end up in the same place - in this case Weta Workshop - but with remarkably different results.

While the boffins at Weta Digital have been slaving over a hot mainframe, rendering James Cameron's Avatar in all its futuristic, fantastical 22nd-century glory, down the road at Weta Workshop, concept artist Greg Broadmore has been working on his art-comic book Victory: Scientific Adventure Violence for Young Men and Literate Women.

It's a decidedly early 20th century spin on sci-fi. It follows Broadmore's earlier Doctor Grordbort's Contranpulatronic Dingus Directory, which was a text to complement the steampunk rayguns Broadmore designs and the Workshop sells to deep-pocketed collectors alongside the usual paraphernalia from film licences.

Victory, though, makes the leap to narrative, in its stories of Lord Coxswain, the most dangerous Englishman in space taking on the natives of Venus and the Moon with his Ray-Blunderbuss.

Broadmore says there are plans for a movie based on the retro-universe - Monty Python meets art nouveau in space, sort of - he has created between helping design the alien weaponry and other hardware for movies like District 9.

"It's a no-brainer that we would want to do a film. Personally I want to turn it into a game. I'm a film fan but at the same time I grew up with an Atari and that is something that I am even more connected to.

"One of the ways I build fiction is through world building - creating the bedrock of everything you place everything on. People ask me quite often 'what is the story?' and I always say there are as many stories as you want to tell.

"It's like reverse engineering Star Wars. You come up with the background to it first. It's always been inspired by classic sci-fi so you can tell many stories on top of that. And the serialised cliff-hanger ending stories fit in perfectly - if anything games are more suited to that."

As well as rayguns and creatures from other planets, Broadmore's Victory also shows he has a thing for tanks. "Yes, bit of a tank nerd. I think everyone likes tanks. I love World War I stuff and I've put it in the era where a lot of that stuff was invented. You can go crazy because they did, too. "

Broadmore's efforts are part of the Workshop's plan to make and market - and possibly film - their own creations rather than totally depending on film jobs for clients. And it's more creatively satisfying, too.

"It's kind of a dream job for a young artist. I can't complain about drawing tanks and robots and dinosaurs It would be easy to get jaded as well because you are just working for an industry that is churning out formula stuff and the majority of it really is crap and I see people around me rolling their eyes at the different projects that come in. That is what drove me on." Russell Baillie

Victory: Scientific Adventure Violence for Young Men and Literate Women is out now.
(Harper Collins, $35) More info: www.wetaworkshop.co.nz

- NZ Herald

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