Jeffrey Morris is a man you’d expect to meet in Los Angeles. His story is one straight out of the Hollywood Hills more than an Excelsior neighborhood with large old oaks and grand houses. Yet Morris works right here, in his lake-area home, on his multimedia brand FutureDude Entertainment.
Driven by the idea of creating “smart entertainment,” Morris has set out to make being a brainiac cool through science fiction and action adventure stories.
“I’d like to get the average person to feel more comfortable with the idea that being smart is cool,” Morris says. “There was a time when the people we idolized as a culture were smart folks.”
From that concept, Morris and his wife Kimberly created his company FutureDude in 2010 (originally it was called Morris FutureWorks, but he wanted something easier to remember). After spending the 1990s working as a screenwriter and director of music videos and commercials, Morris wanted to branch out into his own creative venture. He taught a few classes at private high schools in the Twin Cities, and ran his own nonprofit, Project Universe, from 1999 to 2005. Morris spent the next few years doing freelance web development and graphic design work while he built the FutureDude brand. Now, he is set to launch his first major comic book title in the fall. And this isn’t some small operation: he has Hollywood connections helping him build an entire brand around his FutureDude concept.
Morris’s mission begins with Brainstorm, a comic book series focusing on the perils of weather control. With each story, Morris and his writers (Kimberly is one) blend elements of modern times with those of the future. Most stories take place in the present, but incorporate technology from the future, much as Iron Man or Batman does, he says.
To help produce the Brainstorm series, Morris approached Christopher Jones, who happens to be another lake-area resident. Jones has worked with big-time comic book players such as Marvel and DC, and although he had never heard of FutureDude, he jumped at the opportunity to work with Morris.
“Part of what has me excited,” says Jones, “is that you are always dying to do smart stories and smart characters, but what [FutureDude is] not doing is something that is a preachy or education comic. The first thing is creating an exciting or fun story, but we are telling stories with interesting ideas.”
He compares FutureDude to something like Star Trek in how it got an entire generation of fans interested in science. He has the same hope for the FutureDude franchise.
Morris is also working on his second major title, Parallel Man, set to release in October. This series blends elements of James Bond with Star Wars to create an action-adventure story. And Parallel Man isn’t just a comic book. Yes, it will begin as a seven-issue series, but Morris has a mobile device game, a deck series (similar to Magic) and an animated short that he plans to turn into a full-length animated series to accompany the books. Not only that, but he already has actors John Cho of Star Trek, and Lance Reddick of The Wire, signed on to voice characters.
It’s collaborations with people like Jones that will make FutureDude a success, but the driving force of the company is Morris. He is the creative mastermind and the head of business operations—he literally does a little bit of everything.
“We’re building a brand because we want it to sell and we want it to resonate and we want to make money, but we also want to do good as we do that,” Morris says. “We look at creative from a business standpoint all the time but we also look at business from a creative standpoint.”
As he continues to bring FutureDude to the forefront, he hopes to usher in a new wave of entertainment.
“There are things in popular culture these days that I certainly don’t want my kids watching,” says Morris, “and I’m not coming at that from some puritanical view. A lot of it is just dumb. I think there is a huge space for doing something that is actually smart, and that is what [FutureDude] is about.”