Fan's Comics

Futurama: The Dailies - commentary
By Erik Heltner

August 14, 2011

Is it really possible to transfer the Futurama universe with its fantastic setting and infinite possibilities to a limited and cramped format like the traditional daily newspaper comic strip?

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a comic strip artist. You know, like Charles M. Schulz, Mort Walker, Dik Browne, Jim Davis, Al Taliaferro, Floyd Gottfredson, etc. As I became older, I realised that there was no future in being a comic strip artist, so eventually I gave up that dream. I still admire the craft though, and for a long time I've been wondering if it would be possible to transform Futurama into a comic strip in the same way cartoon shows like Felix the Cat, Betty Boop, Mickey Mouse, and Donald Duck were transformed into comic strips several decades ago.

When you think about it, Futurama has all the ingredients a good, traditional comic strip needs. So transforming Futurama into a comic strip should be an easy task, right? Wrong. One of the problems with Futurama is that most of the episodes are fantastic adventure stories. Although it is possible to make adventure stories of almost epic proportions in comic strips, these kind of stories usually work much better in the closely related medium, the comic book, where you have much more space and freedom at your disposal. Comic strips have always been better at depicting the daily (or boring) lives of their characters. So when I decided to make a Futurama comic strip, that's exactly what I wanted my strip to be about: A daily comic strip exploring the daily lives of the Futurama characters, something that the show hasn't really done yet. Because surely these characters do exactly the same kind of things that everyone else does: watch tv, listen to music, do the laundry, shop in the mall, pay the bills, etc. And although this may sound incredibly boring, you have to keep in mind that the strip takes place in the future. And in the future, nothing is ever boring

I've made seven comic strips so far. A week's length. The Sunday edition was a challenge. The idea I had required a lot of panels and a lot of space. The modern day Sunday edition format doesn't allow any of that, so basically I had two options: I could discard the idea I had and think of a new one, or I could use the idea and try to squease it into the cramped format. But then I thought: "This strip isn't supposed to be published in a newspaper, it's supposed to be posted on Futurama-Madhouse, which has an infinite amount of space!". With this in mind, I decided to use the kind of Sunday edition format they used in the early 20th century, where the Sunday version of a comic strip could easily fill an entire newspaper page. This is actually kind of cheating because, after all, no modern day newspaper would ever print a Sunday edition that big. But who cares?

Then another idea struck me: Wouldn't it be fun to post one strip per day on the site, just like newspaper comics are always printed in the newspaper one strip per day? For example, you could post the first strip on Monday, the second strip on Tuesday, the third strip on Wednesday, and so on, and the last strip on Sunday, just like a real comic strip.

I enjoyed making these seven strips, and I certainly hope to add to this little collection. That said, I would like to make a small announcement:

As every comic strip artist knows, the difficult part of making comics isn't to make the artwork, but to come up with the ideas. So if there is a fan out there who can come up with an idea for a Futurama comic strip, you are welcome to send it to me. If I like it, I will make it into a comic strip, and you will be credited on the strip. (I certainly hope I won't regret this)

Erik Heltner