Austrailian Filmmakers Create Graphic Novel Australi About an Alt History Australia

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Filmmakers Timothy Wood and Thomas Wanke had an idea for a film, but their dream was so costly that they changed mediums, turning their focus to a graphic novel.

Australi is a new graphic novel that takes place in an alternate history of Australia. Twenty years after the European, Chinese, and Middle Eastern empires have conquered Australi, a prophecy unfolds, plunging an unlikely hero in to a new world. A young aboriginal boy, Maloo, must now navigate this harsh new world while searching for his people and trying to find a place to call home. The worlds of Australi are filled with giant creatures, pirates, mercenaries and magic.

Wood and Wanke had just come off their short film, The Boy Who Stole The Bell Tower, when they got the idea to create Australi. The project has been successfully funded on Kickstarter and is now in the early development phase. The finished product ll be 45 pgs and be in full color, the second half of the first book will be 35 pages of art as well as a process outline, and the street date is currently TBD.

I recently emailed Wood to talk about the project.

Ezekiel McAdams (TMS): Tell me a little about yourself and your partners and what you’ve done before Australi.

Timothy Wood: We are a group of young University graduates who created our final film together. I was the writer and director, and Tomas was the producer. We ended up taking out a number of awards and decided we worked well together. We became good mates through a love of fantasy storytelling. We have a lot of big ideas, but this one takes the cake.

TMS: Where did you get the idea?

Wood: One night, we were talking about FernGully after finding out the company had gone into receivership. We talked about Australian fantasy films and discovered that there are very few. We were surprised by this, considering how incredibly beautiful and strange Australia is—the perfect setting for a fantasy story. I mean, how do you describe a kangaroo to a person that has never seen one? A giant hopping mouse with muscles that carries its young in a pouch? That would sound like a fantasy story right there! Australia has amazing landscapes, Pirate Coasts, Red Desert, mountains, forest. What better place to set a fantasy story?

TMS: Tell me more about the world-building you want to create if this project goes forward.

Wood: We want to create a world that feels massive, as massive as the real Australia, with creatures and people that are as unique as those landscapes. We want to create a world filled with magic and mystery. It covers a lot of different empires, from the Chinese to middle eastern nations, each with its own fantastical representation. It’s an epic story of one against many, reminiscent of Avatar, Lord of the Rings, etc.

TMS: If this project goes forward are you thinking long term plans such as expanding, or keeping it as a comic?

Wood: We definitely want to eventually pitch it as a film. We are also very diverse media creators, so online extra media, video, games are always a possibility depending on the demand. Our biggest focus is growing our fan base with a top story and product.

TMS: Tell me about the characters.

Wood: Maloo was abandoned as a baby in the middle of the desert. He was found by a group of camel musters and worked/grew up on a camel station (although more like a slave job).
 One day he sets off to find his home but accidentally sets forward a prophecy he doesn’t want. At first, Maloo just wants to be left alone and doesn’t care too much for Australi. He wants to be accepted and loved but soon learns that some things are more important than himself. Maloo learns all different kinds of magic and shape shifting abilities, such as the ability to grow flying fox wing flaps and kangaroo legs.
Prince is the 23rd son of the Queen of Britain. Sent out to govern over the new world of Australi, it is his mission to win supreme control. Deeply into arcane magic, and well ahead of the prophecy, Prince is hell bent on capturing Maloo and stealing away his power to revive a much older magic, one that would guarantee his power over the new world and the old.

TMS: You talked about a massive and diverse world. Tell me more about the empires, societies, politics, etc.

Wood: Australi is full of rich resources, such as giant diamonds. It’s no wonder that, after the explorers sent word of their discovery, so many nations are now vying for control of it. 
Tiny battles wage here and there, but the political struggle is far worse. Espionage, murder, and tricker reign supreme. Each nation has built a city as a monument to its home. For instance, Maneport is a near replica of London, and New Sheng a giant Chinese fortress. There are more than just official nations, such as pirates and bandit gangs, all trying to make a fortune in the new world.

TMS: What is the thing that most excites you about Australi?

Wood: The thing that excites me most is being able to share a story with a wide audience. In film, it’s hard to get work seen. It might win awards, but the screening only held 100 people. If we can get a story book out there that people love, then our work can be seen more. That is the wish of any storyteller.

TMS: What do you most want to tell people so they can get excited about Australi?

Wood: We are a group of very passionate storytellers. We have taken the talents and abilities of the people we have worked with to create something really special. If you love stories full of magic, destiny, battles, giant creatures, pirates, pirate ships and one unwanted prophecy, Australi is for you, created by a team that shares that passion alongside you.

For more information, you can check out the Kickstarter, which includes an intro video as well as examples of the art.

Ezekiel McAdams is a freelance writer, and just finished his first novel, a YA fantasy fiction. When Ezekiel isn’t writing, he can usually be seen eating pie, gushing about Mars or cows, and being an obscure geek in all things Zak McKracken, Earthworm Jim, Bucky O’Hare, Sliders, and Over the Garden Wall. Ezekiel can be reached on Twitter @PocketFullOFish.

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