Artist Stephen Byrne apparently lives in a different world from the rest of us. Specifically, the world where everything that fandom loves eventually becomes an animated series. The Irish-born comics artist has been spinning out beautifully drawn pieces of visual fan fiction for years now, like this post-Star Wars: The Force Awakens fantasy where Rey, BB-8, Poe Dameron, and Finn team up to take out evil Sith lord Jar-Jar Binks. Or this nine-page Trinity story, which has dressed-down versions of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman facing an unexpected enemy, and concluding with an unexpected alliance. But he may be making the biggest splash with his intro segments for theoretical animated TV series we all desperately need.
The latest one, a teaser for a Firefly animated series, packs a lot into 40 seconds of animation: A passionate Mal / Inara kiss, a mournful post-Serenity moment with Zoë, Jayne and his giant gun Vera, River Tam kicking ass, and just the briefest hint of what looks like Shepherd Book coming through a door. There's a lot of supposition and intrigue in this tiny clip — where'd that hologram come from? How could Book be back? Is Jayne really strafing Simon Tam? — but like so much of Byrne's work, it's satisfying for the tiny window of possibility it opens up into a world where we get more of these fluidly designed, comically exaggerated characters.
In that sense, it's a lot like Byrne's animated-series intros for Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Doctor Who: it's a what-if invitation, but also a series of quick-hit fan-recognition moments that open up a lot of nostalgia for something we loved.
Check the detail on that Buffy intro, which packs in puppet-Angel, ghost-Tara as an apparent regular character, a rogue's gallery of season-by-season Big Bads, and the return of Oz.
And as a bonus, here’s Byrne’s brief take on how Batman v Superman should have gone:
Also check out Byrne's Facebook page, where he regularly posts fan art and his professional work. He's also developing his own superhero comic, Sidekick, about a hero-for-hire playing second fiddle to a less-talented but more famous hero, and navigating sexism and public relations in the heroing field. It's fun, cranky, incisive stuff, and here's hoping for more of it soon.