Many downthetubes readers will recall Mirabilis: Year of Wonders – a wonderful, beautifully written and realised graphic novel project by Dave Morris and Leo Hartas, which first debuted in The DFC and which Print Media Productions planned to publish as a series graphic albums.
Sadly, although two volumes were printed only the first was distributed, and as far as we know just two copies of the second volume made it to the UK.
But there is, finally, some good news – Mirabilis is now being re-published by Dave and Leo via the crowd-sponsor service Patreon… and if all goes well and they get enough support, the hope is that they will be able to publish the huge story in full.
It’s a monumental undertaking, a fantasy adventure story for young adults which opens New Year’s Day 1901, when a green comet appears in the sky. As it gets bigger, the line between reality and fantasy blurs. Soon there are mermaids in the Thames, elves in Parliament and a dragon roosting on Big Ben. But then the comet rounds the sun and starts to fade. Will the world be able to go back to a life without magic?
Dave and Leo are two friends who have worked together as writer and artist on a whole bunch of projects since their very first published work, a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure style gamebook called Crypt of the Vampire.
“We love fantasy, we love comics, and we love the Victorian and Edwardian eras,” Dave explains, “which is how Mirabilis: Year of Wonders was born.
“Mirabilis is an ongoing comics epic,” Dave explains. “The story will be told over four seasons (Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn – what else?) and we figure it’s going to be around 1000 pages. Which probably means it will be a lot longer!
“We call Mirabilis an all-ages comic, not that that really pins anything down,” he continues. “If it were a novel it would be on the Young Adult shelves – and, like all YA, that means it can be enjoyed by anybody from middle grade to adult.”
So, what is Mirabilis about?
“It’s about the human sense of wonder. The power of the imagination,” Dave outlines. “It’s how we can see hope on a battlefield, find love across a barricade, and face certain death to save another’s life. So that’s the deep theme, the idea that’s right at the heart of our tale, but this is a big canvas and every story starts with people.”
The full-colour graphic novel was originally serialized in The DFC, the weekly print comic published by Random House UK, who financed the production and was then released as a digital edition for iPad. Print Media Productions, publishers of STRIP, picked up publishing rights, and Book One was released to positive reviews.
Then, sadly, everything went off the boil and Book Two, although printed, was never distributed in the UK, for reasons still known only to the Bosnian publisher, so let’s hope Patreon helps finally see Mirabilis get the exposure and support this incredible project really deserves.
“We’re going to post up two new pages of the comic on Patreon every week,” says Dave. “Our backers have access to those as they appear, every Monday and Friday. Even if you can’t spare $1 a month you can read lower-res versions of all the issues to date over on the Mirabilis website, but we hope you’ll want to be a part of this yourself. We need you!”
As well as backing Mirabilis for just a dollar a month, fans of the story with a bit more money to spare can get access to a host of other goodies – and if you’re really flush, you could even find yourself drawn into the adventure.
I wish Dave and Leo every success with this latest version of Mirabilis. I was involved in the production of the PMP books, but had already been enjoying Mirabilis in The DFC, so I’d love to see this story get the airing it deserves. It would be great, also, if some eagle-eyed publisher picked up on the work already produced and went to Dave and Leo about rights. I’m sure they’d welcome an approach!
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War” and “Dan Dare”.
He’s the writer of “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.