Comics2Film: Issue #99

Wed, December 22nd, 1999 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Rob Worley, Columnist

Happy holidays to all the comic book movie fans out there. As

a special holiday gift, our pals over at ADV films have dropped

off a Comics 2 Film exclusive regarding the Lady Death animated

movie. Likewise Matt Wagner shares additional insights into

last week's Mage movie announcement. These aren't the only

under our tree. I'll just wish you all a safe and happy

holiday and then turn you loose on this week's stories!

LADY DEATH: THE ANIMATION

ADV Films and Chaos! Comics premiers it's website promoting the upcoming

Lady Death animated feature which is apparently titled Lady Death: The

Animation. The new site can be found at http://www.ladydeaththemovie.com/.

However, at press time the domain name not fully propagated and may not

be accessible from certain locations for a few days.

According to Andy Orjuela of ADV, future updates to the site will feature

production artwork and animated trailers. The current site features a

run down of the characters from the cast and an interview with Lady Death

creator Brian Pulido. Here are some excerpts:

When asked how the animated movie will expand on Lady Death's history

Pulido replied, "We will be looking at the origin of Lady death in the

upcoming OVA. It is her early history where we see her transition from

a girl named Hope to the female personification of death!"

Pulido also talked about the elements of the story that would be

emphasized in the movie, "We will focus on Lady Death's early

history. The story will take us from the dark ages in Europe during

the black plague to the fiery pits of Hell."

Finally, the writer had some general comments on animated versions of

comic books. Pulido said, "By and large, the Americans have not

delivered a quality product. WildC.A.T.S was mediocre. Spawn chooses

to de-emphasize the fantastic elements of the story, which does it a

great disservice. It is a dark, gloomy cartoon that might as well be

live action.

"I am a great fan of Japanese animation. I am sure Phoenix Entertainment is the right studio to bring Lady Death to life.

"With Lady Death I am committed to pushing the envelope and using

animation to do things live action cannot do. Lady Death's story is

grand, epic and fantastic. I will not change that. If anything, in

the animation we will see Lady Death as I envisioned her for the first time."

Go to the Lady Death website for a complete transcript of the interview.

ADV Films also launched a website promoting their upcoming theatrical

release called Spriggan at http://www.sprigganthemovie.com. The

production house will will be on a major national convention tour

promoting Lady Death: The Animation along with SIN: The Movie (based

on the computer game), and the theatrical release of Spriggan. Look for

tour details on the main ADV website.

Cremator
Cremator


Enlarge

Just last night Andy Orjuela, Special Projects Coordinator for

ADV Films dropped off an early holiday present for Comics 2 Film

readers. Santa Andy dropped off two pieces of design artwork

from the movie.

These illustrations represent the first such drawings available on

the internet. These and many others will soon be available on the

official website for the movie. Orjuela told C2F that they should

have all the kinks worked out with the LD:A domain name soon.

Orbec
Father Orbec


Enlarge

The first image is of Cremator. A young, medieval sculptor is

tragically transformed into this blacksmith for the lords of

hell. His fiery fists become awesome weapons as the artist

turned weapon smith fights to be free of his demonic enslavement.

The second image is of Father Orbec is the town clergyman who

accuses young Hope of devil-worship. He ultimately condemns

her to death, setting her on her journey to become Lady Death.

MAGE

[Mage]

Matt Wagner spoke to Comics 2 Film last week about his recently announced Mage movie deal.

Andrew Cosby and Ross Richie of Critical Mass Entertainment are the producers of the movie. "They approached me actually, several years ago, they were fledgling producers and really wanted to give me a pitch on how they saw the movie running," Wagner told us. "We're really on the same wavelength as to what the movie should be."

The trio are enthused about working with Spyglass Pictures, who recently optioned the movie. "Spyglass had seen the property a while ago and was very excited about it. When we finally put it fully out there, they were not only the first ones to bite but they were the ones that both Andrew and Ross seemed to think were in absolute agreement with what the movie should be."

Spyglass appreciated the concept where other potential filmmakers didn't seem to get it. Wagner explained, "Some of the interest we'd had from people were along these lines, 'Yeah! Yeah! We love it! but can we get rid of the King Arthur stuff and does [a major character] have to die at the end?' If it was a totally different property and movie!"

Spyglass on the other hand "seems to be more interested in making

it an accurate depiction. After seeing The Sixth Sense, they're

obviously someone who's willing to pay attention to story."

Wagner's also excited to have hooked up with screenwriter John

Rogers for the project, "We really feel like we caught John, on

his way up, in a big way. I think we're going to see a lot of

important things from him."

We asked Wagner how that relationship began. "He came looking for

us when he heard Spyglass had it because he's such a big Mage fan,"

the comic creator told C2F. "He's been a television writer and a

stand-up comic and he just sold his screenplay for Jesse James which

is just terrific. I forget which studio is doing it, but they're

filming his first draft which is, like, unheard of. Once I read

it I could see why everybody immediately thought he could do Mage."

Wagner continues, "[Jesse James] is very character heavy and yet

there's also lots of action. He's really great about doing dialog

amongst the group without being ponderous. Character gets exposed

during the action. His quips are funny, you don't see them coming

a mile away. They're not pop topical."

Although he expects great work from Rogers, Wagner reiterated that

he doesn't expect the movie to be exactly like the comic. "It's

not going to be a panel-by-panel rendition. I don't think it

should be a panel-by-panel rendition. The whole point is to catch

the various high points and a lot of the visual things that people

remember from it, like for instance, Kevin falling through the

elevator. It's just important to catch those scenes. They don't

necessarily have to be in exactly the same points they were in

the book. that's what translation is all about."

Wagner told us that the Mage movie may take precedence over the

third arc of the comics. However he won't wait another 10 years

before continuing his semi-autobiographical work. "To me it's

all allegory, it's all metaphor which is the way I look at myth

and religion anyway," Wagner said of the autobiographical nature

of Mage. "But the people that populate it are drawn from my real

life. The three witches in The Hero Defined: that's my wife and

her sisters. The next volume will definitely be the Kevin and

Magda show. My son can't wait until he's in Mage.

"Mage is very strange for me. I don't plan it out. It happens to me.

Unlike anything else I work on I don't write out a plot, I don't

do any thumbnails, I sit down with blank pages and just start

going. I know where I want it to take me, and where I want it to

end issue by issue but getting there is this page by page step by

step process. I love that with Mage. It just happens. It just

flows out of me."

Another project for Wagner is the upcoming Grendel novel. About a

month ago, Greg Rucka, who had just signed a deal to adapt his

Whiteout as a movie, revealed he was writing a the novel which

Wagner will illustrate.

"Its a Grendel Prime story," Wagner told C2F. "It's just great, Greg's a great writer."

Wagner reveals that the story centers on "Susan Veraghen, the gal

with the white skin in the green hair [from Grendel: War Child].

It's the story about how, she's in exile, and she searches out

Grendel Prime who's also in exile and becomes his companion.

They become a team basically. She's his Robin."

The illustrated novel is due out in April.

THE TENTH/ADRENALYN

According to a posting by Tony Daniel on his F5 Entertainment website, feature films based on his comics The Tenth and

Adrenalynn are in the early stages of development.

"We are currently in negotiations with people in Japan to create a Tenth anime feature that would appear theatrically in Japan and then on video for release here in the States," Daniel tells his readers. "We're also looking into releasing a Manga version of the Tenth comic in Japan, which in turn would be also be produced in all the other countries, including America. Again, neither are done deals yet, but I thought you all might like to know what I'm up to, so wish me luck."

Daniel later writes, "On Adrenalynn news, Alan McElroy, writer of

the Spawn movie as well as its first season of HBO cartoons, is

working on creating an Adrenalynn movie, based on some of the

ideas presented in her miniseries. Warner Bros. already have

already shown interest in producing it." Daniel and company are

expected to pitch the concept to studios at the end of this year.

X-MEN

It's been an interesting week for fans of the X-Men movie. Cinescape

wowed fans with a photo of Bryan Singer on the set, apparently sizing

up a shot of Magneto's helmet. However, the story and the photo were

quickly pulled from the online magazine's front page. The photo, along

with others, will appear in the January/February issue of the pint

edition of the magazine. The Magneto helmet can still be found on

various sites on the internet.

Meanwhile, the Daily Radar reports that Danny Elfman is tentatively

set to compose music for X-Men. Elfman's music should be familiar to

comic fans. He composed the beautiful score for Batman as well as

providing music for The Flash, The Simpsons, Tales From The Crypt and

too many others to mention. However, this information conflicts with

previous reports that Singer collaborator John Ottman (The Usual

Suspects) would provide the score.

Corona Coming Attractions received a follow-up scoop on the

Elfman/Ottman story. An unnamed scooper claims to have e-mailed

Ottman and asked if he was still on board with the X-Men movie.

According to the scooper Ottman said he is "absolutely" scoring

X-Men. However, he also said that his directing duties on Urban

Legend 2: The Final Cut may create some interference.

Days after Cinescape unveiled the Magneto production photo, Corona

Coming Attractions granted fans a look at two of the character designs

from the movie. The site features two sketches, one of Magneto

and one of Cyclops, which are said to be costume designs for the movie.

The helmet seen in the Magneto sketch is very similar to the one seen

in the photo earlier in the week. The designs themselves are

reminiscent of the comic book costumes, but with less garish colors.

The site also reminds readers that the characters will reportedly

sport several outfits throughout the course of the film, so the two

seen in the sketches may not be the only ones worn by Magneto and Cyclops.

Still later, Corona came through with follow ups to recent rumors regarding the X-Men movie.

For starters, the website posted comments from composer John Ottman.

When asked if he was scoring X-Men Ottman replied, "Currently yes.

There is always a chance that the schedule of the film I'm directing

and the scoring schedule for X-Men may collide too closely. We're

playing it by ear and biting our fingernails!"

Scoopers for the website have also e-mailed reports of sighting of

the X-Men teaser poster. According to all accounts, the poster will

sport the X in a circle emblem as if stamped on a huge metallic door.

A shaft of light is emanating from the center of the X, as if the

door were opening. The film's release date of 7/14/2000 and the

website address (http://www.x-men-the-movie.com/) are the only text

presented on the artwork.

The site speculates that this may be the first of several teasers

where the doors open wider and wider revealing the team within.

Finally, new speculation about the trailer is that we may see it during Superbowl next year.

BABY BLUES

Jerry Scott recently dropped Comics 2 Film a note to let us know about the status of the animated show based on the popular comic strip he co-created: Baby Blues. We had reported last September that an animated Christmas special would air this month on the WB network, followed by a series for next year. Although the series has been filmed, the Christmas special will not air this year as planned.

Scott explains, "The WB decided for various reasons to hold back the Christmas special until maybe next year, and plans to start the series sometime this spring. All thirteen episodes are finished, and we're waiting to hear an air date and time slot."

Scott assures us that information will be forthcoming on the official website.

BATMAN BEYOND: RETURN OF THE JOKER

Warner Home Video has launched a website promoting the feature-

length, direct-to-video, animated Batman Beyond movie.

According to the site, the movie is to be called Batman Beyond:

Return of the Joker and will be available in Fall 2000.

Rob Allstetter of the Comics Continuum recently spoke with Batman Beyond

producer Paul Dini about the upcoming direct-to-video feature Batman

Beyond: Return of the Joker.

P

Dini told the Continuum, "Mark Hamill is back playing several key roles,

one of which is, of course, the Joker, who has miraculously turned up

in the time of Batman Beyond. The other role is sort of a surprise,

and that's all I'll say about it now."

Melissa Joan Hart (Sabrina, The Teenage Witch) also turns up in the

movie, voicing twin hit-girls both of whom are named named Dee-Dee.

Dini also said that the story contains extensive flashback sequences

that bridge the gap between Beyond and the previous Batman Animated

series. Fans will learn what happened to Nightwing, Robin and Batgirl.

The show will also expand on Terry McGinnis' character and motivations

for staying in the high tech bat suit.

The movie is due out November 7, 2000.

CRAZY JANE

In his Dish column appearing in Daily Variety, Michael Fleming

reveals that Warner Bros. has optioned a portion of DC's Doom

Patrol. The Crazy Jane character from Grant Morrison's Vertigo

super team is set to be a feature film from producer Aaron

Meyerson. Meyerson developed the concept with Brian Nelson

(20,000 Leagues Under the Sea) who will write the screenplay.

The concept is described as "Sybill in spandex: she has a multiple

personality disorder, with each manifestation possessing a

different superpower." The article states that the filmmakers will

aim for a darker tone.

GHOST WORLD

A recent article in The Hollywood Reporter indicates that Scarlett

Johansson (The Horse Whisperer) is in negotiations to star in the

movie version of Daniel Clowes Ghost World. If signed, Johansson

will appear opposite Thora Birch (American Beauty) as Enid and

Rebecca. Previous reports indicated that Leelee Sobieski (Eyes

Wide Shut) had been in negotiations for Johansson's role. The

movie will be directed by Terry Zwigoff (Crumb).

ARCHIE

According to a recent article in The Hollywood Reporter,

Universal Studios has put the long awaited Archie movie into

turnaround. Tommy O'Haver (Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss)

had completed a first draft of the movie and was to direct.

Ben Myron (The Mod Squad) is the producer on the project.

The article claims that Universal is instead focusing its

energies on an adaptation of Josie and the Pussycats.

FANTASTIC FOUR

In an article from the Calgary Sun and presented online by Canada's

Jam! Showbiz website, director Chris Columbus (Bicentennial Man)

talks about the prospect of directing the Fantastic Four movie, to

which he's long been attached.

"Bringing this one to the screen is a budgeting nightmare," Columbus

said. "One estimate was as high as $280 million US because every time

the four characters walk into a scene, it will cost upwards of

$100,000."

The director also mentions that the performance of X-Men will greatly influence the chances of a Fantastic Four movie. Both films are set up at 20th Century Fox.

Thanks to Cinescape for the lead.

CROW 4

Corona Coming Attractions reports that a fourth installment of

James O'Barr's Crow movie franchise may center around the death

of a gansta rapper, a la Tupac Shakur. Citing Paula Guran's

DarkEcho newsletter the fourth incarnation could be "a 'HipHop' Crow."

Reports dating back several years have indicated that O'Barr

himself may handle the screenwriting chores on the fourth

installment. No word is given as to whether or not the above

story concept comes from the concept's creator.

In the mean time, the third installment, The Crow: Salvation is

due out March of next year.

HARSH REALM

The VFXPro website reports that all eight episodes of the Harsh Realm

TV series are set to air next March on the FX cable network. The

show, based on James Hudnall and Andrew Paquette's comic of the

same name, was one of the early casualties of the 1999 fall TV

season. Fox TV yanked the new show after airing only three episodes.

The visual effects company Pixel Envy went on to complete effects work

on all eight shows, in spite of the cancellation. No new episodes

have been ordered, but word is that FX is considering continuing the series.

IRON MAN

Terry Rossio and Ted Elliot have been identified as the

screenwriters charged with the task of bringing Marvel's Iron

Man to the big screen. The duo, who wrote last year's The

Mask of Zorro among others, recently broke the news in an exclusive

interview with Eon Magazine. The pair reportedly pitched their

take on the character to both New Line and Marvel and were

subsequently hired.

"Obviously, everyone is interested in seeing what happens with X-Men,

but the only real similarity between the two projects is: they are

based on Marvel Comics properties," Elliot told Eon. "I think New

Line feels pretty confident, based on their success with Blade,

that they're capable of doing a good movie based on a superhero

character -- even if other studios can't."

And what is their take on Iron Man? "It's funny, in many ways

Tony Stark is one of the most generic alter-egos in the Marvel

Comics universe," Elliott said. "It is the ways that Tony Stark

is different from that model that best define the character.

Specifically he is an engineering genius. Confronted with a

problem, he will work relentlessly until he solves it; which

means first understanding completely the nature of the problem,

and then seeking the most efficient, effective and elegant solution."

Elliot went on to say, "Taking our cue from some of the other

elements intrinsic to Iron Man -- high-tech manufacturing, ties

to S.H.I.E.L.D. and the U.S. Government, international businessman

-- and some of the stories from the books, we're going to throw

Tony into a very gray world, one which his money and his personality

have isolated him from for the most part. It will be a Gordian

knot of motives, actions and events which forces Tony to solve

the most fundamental question about himself: 'What kind of man am I?'"

The writing pair refused to speculate on casting. Rumors from

previous years have indicated Nicolas Cage and Tom Cruise were

interested in the character. However, the property has changed

hands since those stories had circulated, and the question of

who would don the armor is still up in the air. Likewise the

pair have not decided on a villain for the piece yet. "As yet,

we have not found a villain from the comic books who fits the

needs of the story," Elliott told Eon. "If we do, we'll use

that character-- no reason to re-invent the wheel, after all."

For more information about Elliot and Rossio, check out their

excellent Wordplay website.

MODESTY BLAISE

Lawrence Bender spoke with the Calgary Sun recently about the

long planned Modesty Blaise movie. In the article, which can

be found on the Jam! Showbiz website, Bender talked about the

difficulty he and partner Quentin Tarantino have had getting

the movie to the big screen.

"We just can't get a screenplay we like. When we do, it should

be no problem casting it. Actresses will come out of the woodwork

to play Modesty," Bender told the Sun.

Thanks to Cinescape for the lead.

BATMAN 5

Gossip columnist Liz Smith is claiming that Dogma star Ben

Affleck is "a major contender" for the lead role in the next

Batman movie. No word is given as to Smith's source.

ELFQUEST

Rob Allstetter of the Comics Continuum recently spoke to Craig Miller

about the progress of the animated Elfquest feature. Miller is a

partner at Wolfmill Entertainment, who is producing the movie. He is

also one of the screenwriters working on the film, along with Wolfmill

partner Marv Wolfman and Elfquest creator Wendi Pini.

Miller reports that they've turned in the second draft of the screenplay.

The script is well-liked by all parties and will likely undergo a

"dialog polish" before production starts.

Miller told The Continuum that storyboarding and voice casting should

begin in mid-January. No names were mentioned in relation to casting,

but Miller did slip that they are talking to some major names.

According to the report, the movie is targeted for a 2001 release.

SILVER SURFER

A scooper for Corona Coming Attractions confirms talk that Andrew

Kevin Walker (Sleepy Hollow, 8mm) is developing a screenplay for

the filmed adaptation of Marvel's Silver Surfer. The writer

apparently told audience members he was working on the script

during an October writer's network conference.

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