B7 Media, in association with Andrews UK, is to dramatise Robin Evans‘ science fiction graphic novel series Venna’s Planet as a podcast audio drama.
Launched back in 2018, Venna’s Planet, written and illustrated by Kendal-based creator Robin Evans, was inspired by pre-World War Two film serials, the lurid pulp SF of the 1950s, and classic newspaper strips.
The podcast drama series will present Venna’s adventures in bite-sized, 15-minute instalments, made with the distinctive blockbuster sci-fi cinematic approach B7 Media is renowned for with their award-winning productions of productions such as Blake’s 7, The Martian Chronicles, I Robot and The Dan Dare Audio Adventures.
Combining the episodic thrills of classic Saturday morning film serials like Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers, with the spirit of the free-wheeling 1960s seen in classic movies like Barbarella and Modesty Blaise, the latter loosely based on the eponymous adventure strip, Venna’s Planet is a fresh and original aural adventure with an action-heroine like no other.
Funny and sexy; intelligent and dangerous, Venna is part Bettie Page, part Ellen Ripley – a young woman whose escapades will always end in exciting cliff-hangers, leaving the listener desperate for the next thrilling instalment to drop onto their favourite podcast portal.
Venna’s Planet is the story of Venna 8632, a strong-willed, highly skilled, soldier-drilled woman on a mission in outer space, where gravity keeps you perky and the future appears to be rather retro. She’s part of the human crew of the Suntreader, who have been travelling for fifty years – in order to find a new planet to colonise – with the majority in and out of cryogenic hibernation.
Tired of playing shoot ‘em up with aliens, Venna yearns to settle on the newest world the Suntreader has been orbiting; which they have named Promise. Unfortunately, the only promise she’s living on is the continuation of a futile war with the inhabitants – the Krogs – and that’s reached somewhat of a predictable stalemate.
Joining the planetary team on a mission, and all because of upsetting her superior officer known as the Countess, Venna finds herself lost on Promise. She is pursued by unimaginable menaces from all quarters, without realising the Countess is behind her abduction.
Nobody knows the whole truth about Promise, or what plans the Countess really has for the colonists. Venna knows only that terrible danger hides in its beauty, and that its secrets will not be revealed easily. When our heroine is captured by the Krogs and subjected to a process intended to rob her of her very humanity, everything she thought she knew and trusted is turned inside-out and upside-down.
Broken Promise is the first part of a three book trilogy in the story of Venna’s Planet.
The graphic novel series launched in 2018, the creation of veteran comics creator Robin Evans, and artist whose had a passion for drawing since he was a child and has spent decades using his talent to make himself a living – drawing caricatures at weddings and other functions, illustration work, and producing comic strips for magazines. His longest running strip is “Great Moments in Computing“, scripted by Mel Croucher, which has been running for over 20 years in the magazine, Computer Shopper. His credits also include “Young Doctors in Space“, which ran in Starburst for several years, and “Mercy Dash“, which centred on a chain-smoking, hard-drinking shiftless PR woman, several years before Absolutely Fabulous, also scripted by Mel, who ran wild in Games Machine for 18 months, until she was put a stop to.
“Venna has been with me in one form or another for more than 30 years,” says Robin. “Her friends and enemies have lived in my head, occasionally escaping onto the printed page, while I frantically try to chronicle their goings on.
“Although I always thought they may one day migrate to another medium, the news of this audio serialisation is extremely exciting!”
“In these dark days Venna’s Planet is just what we all need, ” says Writers’ Guild-nominated scriptwriter and Sunday Times best-selling author series Colin Brake, who has adapted Robin’s saga to audio drama. “A funny, escapist sci-fi adventure with a bold, sexy heroine at the heart of the story.”
Over the past 30 years, Colin has written audio scripts, comics, short stories, interactive fiction, novelisations, children’s chapter books, and full-length novels, with TV writing credits that encompass BUGS, EastEnders, Doctors and more, and audio drama credits include Doctor Who and Jago & Litefoot audio dramas for Big Finish and episodes of B7 Media ’s Dan Dare: The Audio Adventures and the Audible docudrama series, The Space Race.
“From the first moment I started reading Robin’s fantastic first graphic novel I knew I’d found a new fictional world to love,” he continues. “There’s a hint of Robert Sheckley’s unique science fiction novels, a touch of Douglas Adams Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and maybe even a splash of the late Kenny Everett’s Captain Kremmen – but Venna’s Planet is far more than just a homage or a pastiche: it’s a modern, self-aware, original creation. And more importantly – it’s pure unadulterated fun.”
“For the past 20 years AUK has been one of the UK’s leading independent global digital publishers and distributors,” says executive producer and managing director AUK, Paul Andrews. “Over the last decade we have successfully worked with the award-winning B7 Media team and had no hesitation in asking them to create this amazing audio drama adaption for us. As we expand our own funded original content across multiple formats; from books, to audio, to games and film, this will hopefully be the first of many such collaborations.”
Best known for his work on reimagining genre favourites like Blake’s 7 and Dan Dare, series director, Andrew Mark Sewell, says of the original Venna books; “When I was first approached about the project, I loved the playful, irreverent nature of Robin Evans creation. I’ve always been a big fan of Mike Hodges film version of Flash Gordon, and in many regards Venna is the female equivalent, but definitely cheekier. In these complicated times who doesn’t want a bit of camp sci-fi to cheer them up!?”
“As a lifelong fan of scifi, comedy and general all-round daftness, I’m very excited about bringing all that to life in an audio package for Venna’s Planet, ” says Producer, Helen Quigley. “At first glance, those not familiar with the books might make some presumptions about Venna and her world. She – and we – would like to think you’re in for a surprise!”
The cast for the series, which will feature on the official B7 Media web site and other streaming platforms in 2021, will be announced later this year, but Sewell says there’s an abundance of weird and wonderful characters, not least our lead protagonist.
“Venna’s a character any actress will relish bringing to life,” continues Sewell. “She’s happily, and uncomplicatedly bi-sexual, intelligent, strong and an optimistic, glass- half full kind of person, but she won’t shy away from a fight and stands up against evil wrong doers. You certainly don’t won’t to get on the wrong side of this woman in a fight.”
• Robin Evans is online at www.grenville-evans.co.uk