“There is another world just above our heads. A world both comfortingly familiar and completely alien. Look in just the right direction at just the right time, and you may catch a glimpse of this parallel universe”. – From ‘Lab 99′ Comic Book
I have to admit, I have an interesting life. Social media became such a big part of it, and even if I sometimes consider it overbearing, more often I cannot go without it. Twitter is particularly fascinating to me. Nobody knows what it is exactly. I am new to this platform, and just about six months ago I was putting it down as a meaningless stream of blurbs that do not communicate anything in particular. Look at me now! Over one thousand tweets and counting!
Once I started paying attention to the constant stream of twitter chatter, I started noticing how many phenomenal ideas and people are there! All this Twitter ode is because through Twitter I discovered Lab 99, a fantastic indie comics series, a brainchild of the Nebula Creatives studio.
Lab 99 is a comic book written by Rujanee Mahakanjana and Christian Stanfield. It is based on a screenplay of the same name by Rujanee.
From far in the night sky on a nearby arm of the Milky Way galaxy, the interstellar space laboratory known as Lab 99 watches over our species and our solar system. Set 30 years before the events of the screenplay, the comic book follows the alien (Eddie) as he returns from a mission to the Earth, to unexpected news. – From ‘Lab 99’ Comic Book
Rujanee and I hit it off because of some parallels between her screenplay (and yes, folks there will be a movie!!) and my upcoming novel ‘329 Years Awake’. We are both in love with space, we want to know how the universe works (you can check some of my crazy ideas here), and we both love Thai food! Although obviously Rujanee, who was born in Thailand, gets the level of guru and I am still learning what a good pad thai is like!
Watch the Lab 99 Teaser!
After reading the first issue, I asked Rujanee a few questions, and I am sure I will have many more with time.
Ellie Maloney: How did you come up with the Lab99 universe?
Rujanee Mahakanjana: I am fascinated by the unknown aspect of space and how vast it really is. Also, the International Space Station and NASA TV! When some life-changing events happened to me in 2010, I started exploring deeper into the meaning of who we are and what we do as humans living on this planet. I also like to think in scale, meaning that when I observe a group of ants, I often wonder if they ever wonder who or what I am to them.
E.M.: Tell us about the premise of the galactic winds and the ‘science’ / ‘structure’ of your universe.
R.M: I like to think that the space and the oceans have a very similar premise. They both are old, huge, mysterious, and have currents, turbulences, waves/winds, black holes vs sea trenches. Certain types of fish and sea creatures swim or follow specific currents to travel from one area to another (I learned this from Finding Nemo, my favorite animation of all time!) Same goes with the ionized particles and stardust that burst and follow gravity, other forces and currents in space.
E.M.: What exactly happened to Eddie at the end of the 1st issue?
R.M.: Eddie has to leave to find and rescue another lab 99 alien. At the departure dock where he is about to take off, he falls in the galactic turbulence unprepared (think jumping in the middle of the ocean for a dive on purpose versus accidentally falling in from a boat). Because it was an accident he ends up in the the Chao Praya River, the main river that runs through the city of Bangkok in Thailand. Water is acidic to Lab 99 aliens so he is either going to burn and die in the river or someone will have to save him (Will have to find that out in the 2nd issue) 🙂
E.M.: There seems to be an environmental message in your story, or at least in the 1st issue. What ‘big picture’ messages did you incorporate in the the Lab99 universe?
R.M.: The environmental message is one of many things I want to discuss as part of what humans have done to this planet and themselves. Today, everyone lives selfishly. People don’t care about anything else but their own well-being. Lab 99 also suggests the idea that together we create great things and can solve a lot of problems in our society and the planet. There’s also a message about capitalism and greed of corporations. But we will discuss this later when we get to that point.
E.M.: When can we expect the second issue?
R.M.: When we reach our fundraising goal, we will start the production of the 2nd issue right after the holiday, and work on it intensely for a release in April or May.
Lab 99 is still very far from the fundraising goal, and only 10 days left in the campaign!
E.M.: Where can your fans interact with your team?
R.M.: For $250 contribution, we can have a spectacular hangout with the fans! Give it a try! The $250 and $2500 are the ones that offer direct communication with the team.
E.M.: Tell us about the ultimate perk in the fundraiser.
R.M.: For $2500, you contribute to the project in a big way. Because you believe in us and the project, you will be credited on our Lab 99 IMDb page, as “Executive Producer” in addition to all of the other perks above. When the film, Lab 99, is produced, your name will also appear in the opening credit. A full page color ad of your business placed on back cover of the 2nd issue and monthly update meetings with the team (in-person or Skype) will be also be included.
If Lab 99 aliens are just as much fun as their creators, sign me in! I want to be a part of this project!
By the way, do you know, which perk I personally found the most amazing? As cool as it sounds to be an Executive Producer of the movie, I’d much rather be a character in the comics! Yes! For $35, you can become an Alien!
You give us a chance so you contribute to the project in a big way. Because you believe in us and the project, you will be credited on our Lab 99 IMDb page, as “Executive Producer” in addition to all of the other perks above. When the film, Lab 99, is produced, your name will also appear in the opening credit. A full page color ad of your business placed on back cover of the 2nd issue and monthly update meetings with the team (in-person or Skype) will be also be included. – From the Indiegogo page.
I thought this is just too good to pass, so I signed up. And not only I donated $35, I started practicing being an alien!
That being said, I am a hard judge of comics. On this blog, I reviewed only one comic book, The Black Science, to which I was drawn because of the intricate artwork and the Sliders-like multiverse premise.
Lab 99 resembles the Black Science, and in my opinion is even more interesting. Lab 99 has intriguing premise, a blend of multi-cultural aspects and philosophic ideas, and wonderful artwork. I was immediately drawn into the story and was shocked how fast the issue was over. I wanted more! I loved that scenes take place in unique places on Earth. I am looking forward to see more!
About the Lab 99 Creators:
Lab 99 is a production of Nebula Creatives, a Chicago-based film production company. It is written by Rujanee Mahakanjana and Christian Stanfield, with artwork by Oscar Joyo.
Rujanee: Growing up watching a good amount of Japanese animated television shows in the 80s and 90s, I have always been fascinated by existential and philosophical stories with science-fiction elements. Lab 99 started off as a 20-year collective personal journey, and it has now turned into something much more than passion. It’s an enlightenment of what humanity is about and anyone can relate. My goal is to show the audience how to appreciate and embrace what we are while understanding our differences and choices we make towards changes and transformations.
Christian: I’ve always been a fan of mystery and science fiction from an early age, especially stories with philosophical and social commentary elements to them such as the Twilight Zone. What drew me to Lab 99 was the concept of an alien coming to Earth with incredibly advanced technology and the ability to cure all of our diseases, and the idea of what that would really mean for the human race and how we would really react. I’m also a big fan of movies with a witty and quirky sense of humor, especially when combined with science fiction such as The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai, and that’s another thing that drew me to Lab 99.
Oscar: Born to a Malawian family, I was introduced to art at a young age through animation, comic books, video games and film. Anime, surreal art, and music have always been a driving force in my work. I hold a BFA in life drawing at the American Academy of Art. Technical training in traditional drawing skills from the Academy led me to find interests in professional illustration, graphic design, photography, and fine art which I am heavily influenced by, to create a variety of visually striking imagery. I have been involved in many artist exhibitions around Chicago, including showcases outside such as The Society of Illustrators in New York and the Congressional Art Exhibition and Digital Arts Showcase in South Korea.
Thanks for reading!