If you're a fan of science fiction, Joss Whedon, or just good television, odds are you're already familiar with Firefly. The cult favorite TV series was tragically cancelled before the end of its first season, but it found new life upon its DVD release, turning the series, cast, and crew into science fiction icons.
Firefly starred Nathan Fillion and Alan Tudyk, who recently took inspiration from their lives after the series to create the web series Con Man. The two portray fictionalized versions of themselves, Tudyk playing Wray Nerely and Fillion playing Jack Moore. In the show, similar to real life, the two starred in a beloved science fiction series that wasn't successful until after its own cancellation. The series explores the frustrations of Wray throughout his career, watching his friend Jack become a mainstream success while he struggles to find work outside of genre films.
While Con Man focuses on Wray's life traveling the convention circuit, there are plenty of references to Spectrum, the fictional television series that made him famous. The story of that television show will be explored through the recently announced comic miniseries Spectrum from Automatic Publishing. Co-written by Tudyk and novelist PJ Haarsma, with art from Transformers artist Sarah Stone, the story takes place after an alien force attacks and devastates the world. Though the planet survives, the conflict is far from over. It's only thanks to the prophetic dreams of Captain James Raaker (Fillion) that humanity realizes they must escape the planet.
The publisher has since confirmed that Spectrum will be launching in partnership with Free Comic Book Day. As the name implies, Free Comic Book Day is a day where participating comic shops throughout North America give away free comics to anyone who comes to their shop. Typically, the offerings are short stories or truncated introductions to different comic series launching throughout the year. Automatic Publishing is taking a different approach: giving the entire first issue away for free.
Tudyk elaborated a bit on the decision to release a full issue for no charge.
"It's a totally free first issue of a great new series. No risk and tons of reward. We thought about a few ways to bring Spectrum to fans on Free Comic Book day and settled on just giving away the first issue so you can decide for yourselves if it's your cup of tea without having to spend your hard-earned bucks. PJ and I are really happy with Sarah Stone's beautiful artwork that brought our story to life... It's just a blast to read and a bargain at any price - especially $0."
Though the miniseries spins out of the comedic Con Man, Spectrum will be a serious science fiction story featuring not only plenty of action, but a hero marred by personal tragedy. The series promises to evoke Whedon's work on Firefly and the film follow-up Serenity, as well as the Serenity comic books the director produced with Dark Horse Comics. With such a talented creative team and the parallels to Firefly, Spectrum #1 is worth a look even for those who don't typically read comics.
Spectrum launches on Free Comic Book Day 2016, which will take place on May 7th, 2016. The first season of Con Man is available now on Vimeo.