‘Parallel Man: Infinite Pursuit’: Shrouding Across the Multiverse
In 2014, just four years after founding his own sci-fi-focused production company – FutureDude Entertainment – Jeffrey Morris has taken a leap into the alternate worlds of the multiverse.
“When I saw the concept featured in the episodes of the original star trek, it made me see myself very differently when I looked at myself in the mirror – was it my reflection or another me looking through the window into another world? recalls Morris. “parallel man allowed me to explore different versions of this reality based on a series of scientific “what ifs”: what if dinosaurs continued to evolve? What if our planet was covered with a polluted and futuristic megalopolis? What if fungi were the dominant life form?
Enter Parallel Man: Infinite Pursuit, an animated short by Morris that follows the quest of Nick Morgan – a super-soldier – who, after discovering critical technology, is pursued through multiple versions of Earth by commandos of a totalitarian regime. Navigating worlds of humanoid dinosaur clans, giant mushroom forests, and polluted, steampunk cities, Morgan’s adventures in the short are a small taste of the original story, first developed by Morris as than comic and mobile game.
Today, March 28, the film will premiere alongside Morris’ live-action Oceanus: Act 1 on Gunpowder & Sky’s subsidiary sci-fi label, DUST. parallel man features the vocals of Ming-Na Wen (Boba Fett’s Book), John Cho (star trek), and Lance Reddick (John Wick).
“I’ve seen representations of alternate realities, but none were visually developed based on actual scientific possibilities,” notes Morris, who has been “a science enthusiast” since childhood. “I think that makes [Parallel Man] a unique project.
He adds: “I also wanted to explore contemporary society by imagining a totalitarian regime called The Ascendancy. He is stuck in the past politically and socially with rampant sexism and racism. Yet this empire has the incredible ability to “jump” to parallel worlds and its subjugated inhabitants want to escape to better worlds. I wanted people in our world to look at things differently and to question reality. The comic book series and graphic novel explore a rebellion against The Ascendancy led by scientist Carl Sagan and a group of thinkers called The Futurists. The animated movie is just one installment of the first comic book issue.
Although parallel manThe animated short is long over, Morris says he’s struggled to bring animation to the public for the past eight years and is “beyond ecstatic” to let the story come out on DUST.
“I tried pitching the show to various streamers and studios in 2015 and 2016 to no avail,” he says. “Everyone wanted an animation that matched a pattern or a cookie cutter. They said parallel man wasn’t violent or steamy enough for adults and wasn’t pure and fuzzy and simple enough for kids. It was terribly disappointing, especially since we had received so many good reviews. To this day, people contact me every month on social media asking why it wasn’t on TV. Maybe we finally have a chance thanks to DUST. There needs to be content the whole family can watch that doesn’t put viewers down or insult their intelligence.
The landscapes of Morris’ multiverse worlds are as varied as parallel man demographic audience, each with their own unique aesthetic and animated texture. The first land variant Morgan escapes to is Chinamerica, awash in as much neon lighting as the city’s river canals are in toxic fumes. It is not surprising that this world is inspired by the famous blade runner.
“Still, I tried to design it with my own vision of a futuristic dystopia,” says Morris. “I think it worked, especially with the giant traveling refinery. My team thought I was crazy when I first pitched this idea. But they came to love it.
And the nostalgia continues to flow, with parts of the DinoWorld in Morris’ short inspired by jurassic park but, again, with a personal flair that Morris and his team brought based on real scientific theory.
“It was fun to design our own reptiles, especially the humanoids,” he explains. “I first saw the idea of an evolved dinosaur in Omni Magazine in the 70s.”
But of all the pop culture throwbacks in parallel manMorris says he was very happy to bring back the animation look he loved as a kid.
“I tried to imitate the watercolor and gouache backgrounds that touched me emotionally when I saw Charlie Brown television specials,” he notes. “I think we pulled off this look by pairing it with futuristic technology and cool characters rendered in Toon Shader. I wanted to feel like I was ‘changing channels’ while watching the same program. The animation has therefore been divided into four separate smaller films, each world with its own look while maintaining the overall art direction.
He adds, “I didn’t want the animation to look exactly like the comic. Still, I wanted it to look like a painting. And all of these worlds share a rich, warm background look while showcasing and illuminating sleek tech elements.
Even though the animation was made in 2014, the Morris team’s attention to detail puts parallel manthe animation of on par with recently released animated series, such as Marvel’s What if…?combining the best of 2D liveliness with 3D/CG techniques.
“Honestly, I just wanted to evoke the feeling I had when I watched the original star wars when I was a kid – a sense of wonder and wonder and, above all, fun,” says Morris. “Plus, a mix of cool tech and memorable characters and an awesome backdrop of alien worlds.”
In addition to working on FutureDude’s first sci-fi feature, Persephone – featuring a journey to a planet that orbits the nearest star – Morris already has plans to expand the world of parallel man even more with a three-season anime television series, each with 10 episodes.
“When I first finished the short, people had a hard time understanding the concept of parallel universes,” Morris recalled. “Now it’s commonplace in the media. I think the world is finally ready for parallel man. If you like what you see, share the movie and give it positive reviews whenever possible. The powers that be will be watching and we want them to try to allow this world to reach its full potential.
Victoria Davis is a full-time freelance journalist and part-time Otaku with an affinity for all things anime. She reported many stories ranging from activist news to entertainment. To learn more about his work, visit victoriadavisdepiction.com.