First published on 30 Oct 2012. Updated on 15 Apr 2013.
Neomad is the world’s first ever Aboriginal comic app, created with the help of 30 kids in remote Western Australia. Alongside sci-fi elements such as sky bots, rocket boosters and magic crystals, the comic negotiates what traditional Aboriginal identity means in the modern world. The flashy, interactive iPad app brings to life the rich Indigeous culture of the Pilbara region for a wider audience.
Illustrator Stu Campbell created the line drawings and then mentored 30 children from the community of Roebourne to colour the drawings in using Photoshop. The project began when children developed their own futuristic ‘Love Punk’ character for a zombie film. They then worked together with Campbell to map out the story, record the audio and shoot live action bonus scenes. Two of the children involved recently launched Neomad’s first episode at the International Children’s Comic Festival in Seoul.
The project is run by Big hART, a not-for-profit organisation that have a long-term commitment to arts initiatives in regional and remote communities throughout Australia. Big hART believe marginalised communities are too often framed in a narrative of despair and endeavour to approach these communities differently, offering them creative skills with which to empower themselves.
The first episode of Neomad recounts the escapades of the Love Punks, a band of tech-savvy adventurers intent on bring positive change. Set in the year 2076, the comic begins aboard the Love Punks’ crowded hovercraft as it speeds through a digitised desert. When Roebourne is attacked by an unknown aggressor, the boys discover a rock engraved with a petroglyph. This sets them off on a journey to get to the bottom of the mystery in order to save their community and, perhaps, mankind.
Through this journey, the Love Punks discover stories and traditions of their culture from their elders. This juxtaposition of ancient culture and modern issues of technology imbedded in the sci-fi genre creates a refreshing approach to Aboriginal culture. Neomad is a sci-fi story about working out where your culture came from, and, best of all, it’s fun for kids from all cultures to engage with. The first episode is downloadable now and episode 2 will be available in the new year.
Neomad Interactive Comic is available through iTunes. Episode 1 is $2.99; episodes 2 and 3 are free updates.