Writer – Kevin Gunstone
Artist – Slobadan Jovanovic
Colorist – Matteo Baldrighi
Lettering and Design – Patrick Foster
One of the most iconic scenes in all of cinema is that of the Neanderthals around the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey. The scene involves the Cro-Magnons probing a strange, otherworldly pillar that has appeared in their midst, grunting and jumping about, it the image I see in my head when I think of cavemen. It is not the image that Kevin Gunstone sees.
That vision is brought to life in Future Primitive #1 from Markosia. Issue 2 is in the works, on the cusp of being out, so this is a good time to catch up. This is a tale of two cultures, related in their origin but grown apart. There was a crucial split in the genetic and cultural code, and one group decided to worship the sun while the other chose the moon. This is the story, as outlined in the first two pages, of the last desperate attempt to keep the two cultures intact, and of the last warrior king, Kulkan the Noble. The Skybearers (sun worshipers) have mastered levitation, so they fly about on craft of their own devise. The Moon Clan is on a different path, a more ethereal and faith-based path.
Gunstone has taken an old story and rewritten it so that it feels different. This is the age-old battle of science vs. religion. Which is better? What seems like an outrage to one race is merely an offering to the moon god to another, and what seems like witchcraft to the Moon Clan is merely the art of levitation as practiced by the Skybearers ancestors. It’s all a matter of opinion, all in your viewpoint. Of course, as usually is the case in such situations, both sides have neither the ability nor the will to look at the others point of view, and it leads to what is sure to be an epic battle. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s what we expect from Neanderthals. Because we’re more advanced than that. Our modern society would never single out a people because of their different belief, or viewpoint. Let the snark stop here, but I think this is an interesting point that Gunstone may be shooting for in this story. Or, he may have just wanted to write about cavemen fighting each other, and that’s cool too. It makes for an exciting story.
Slobadan Jovanovic draws with a precision that speaks of hours bent over the desk. His panels are a mix of landscape splash pages interspersed with individual, smaller panels that give you a close-up on characters. Because this is a story about two clashing cultures, it helps to show the broader range and size of the population. On one page he’s drawn what looks to be at least a hundred figures, and if you zoom in, as we can now do with digital comics, you can see that he’s not skimped on the detail for each one. Detail. I think that is what Jovanovic has poured into this comic. Each brick, each face, each tree is a map of detail.
Future Primitive #1 is available now from Markosia on Comixology, and issue two is on the way soon, print editions to follow. Kevin Gunstone may have hidden a moral in between the fantastic art of Slobadan Jovanovic, but if it’s there I won’t tell. I’m too busy turning pages, wondering who will win in the gathering storm.
Brad Gischia is a writer and artist living in the frozen Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He is married and has three kids and a dog, who all put up with his incessant prattling about comic books.