NYCC, Xtra: 28 Hours Later, Fox Goes Atomic at NYCC

Mon, February 26th, 2007 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
John W. Smith, Contributing Writer

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For years DC and Marvel Comics have been providing blockbuster ideas to their corporate parents and siblings. Now 20th Century Fox is getting into the game with their new studio Fox Atomic and its comic book division, Fox Atomic Comics, who showed off its' slate of new arrivals at the Saturday session of the New York Comic Con.

In attendance were Fox Atomic Comics Editor in Chief R. Eric Lieb, Editor Heidi MacDonald, "28 Days Later: The Aftermath" penciller and colorist Dennis Calero, "The Hills Have Eyes: The Beginning" writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, and "28 Days Later: The Aftermath" writer Steve Niles. Lieb explained that the 20th Century Fox was not a genre arm like Dimension, but was instead the first studio to target the youth demographic. The studio's focus is not horror, despite its' upcoming slate of film and comic book projects.

According to Lieb, Fox Atomic has three major arms: theatrical films, an extensive online site at FoxAtomic.com and their graphic novel division. Fox Atomic Comics' first release is "28 Days Later: The Aftermath", a full color 112 page graphic novel that serves as both a prequel and sequel to the 2002 film. The book will also lead into the upcoming sequel, "28 Weeks Later," which is scheduled for May 11th.

The book features four 22 page stories taking place before, during and after the Rage outbreak seen in the movie. It's written by Steve Niles and features Dennis Calero as the penciller of Story 1 and Story 4, Diego Olmos on Story 2 and Nat Jones on Story 3. The book features a cover illustration by Tim Bradstreet. Niles said that entering the "28 Days Later" world had its' challenges because the original film was very auteur driven. "We had to please a lot of people," he said. Niles said that because the original film took place after the outbreak, readers can expect "a lot of what we didn't see in the movie."

Jimmy Palmiotti was the project's original editor until Heidi MacDonald stepped onto the project. "When you hold this book it feels like it's worth every penny," he said. Palmiotti worked with Calero and the other artists to make the book visually stunning. "How much brain should we show?" Calero said. "We'd literally have e-mails back and forth asking for 25% more brain."

"Dennis and I have been working together for years," Palmiotti said. "Although I'm a ball-buster, I think he knows where I'm going with this." Lieb said "28 Days Later: The Aftermath" comes out April 3rd, just before the second movie debuts. With HarperCollins as FA's distribution partner, expect a strong presence in bookstores targeting fans of the movies.

"The Hills Have Eyes: The Beginning" is next on the slate of releases. It's a prequel of the remake of "The Hills Have Eyes" that came out last year. Lieb described the project as "hardcore violence, mutants killing people… but it has a really strong emotional core."

It's a full story over 88 story pages by Palmiotti and his frequent co-writer, Justin Gray. John Higgins is the project's penciller. "John is usually known as the 'Watchmen' colorist but he's a really amazing artist. This is a big step forward for him," said MacDonald.

"How did you get to that point? How did you get so lucky that you're living in the hills and eating people?" said Lieb. "The Hills Have Eyes 2" comes out March 23rd and the graphic novel is out in July, coinciding with the DVD release.

"Nightmare Factory" will be FA's first original graphic novel. It's based on the works of horror writer Thomas Ligotti. Four separate stories will be adapted by former DC and Marvel editor Stuart Moore and screenwriter Joe Harris. Art will be by Colleen Doran, Ben Templesmith, Michael Gaydos and Ted McKeever. Ashley Wood provides the cover illustration. MacDonald said "it's a book that you can leave out on your coffee table and not feel looked down on in the least."

Are they looking at 22 page monthlies or releasing another set of stories? "98 years later," Calero said. According to Palmiotti, "it doesn't make sense to do monthlies with these properties. In comics you have this little window and once they're out they're gone." "With audiences they're not going to want to wait 28 days later to find out what happens," Grey added.

Did the look of the book reflect the look of the movie? "We kind of had that in mind," according to Lieb. "We tried to capture that feeling as much as you possibly can." Calero added that he tried to do the last story a little different in terms of style from the first.

Will their graphic novels be limited to the horror genre? "Not right now," Lieb said. "It's skewing that way because two are related to horror properties." "FA's not going to overnight become a superhero company," Calero added.

Even though they're part of 20th Century Fox, expect their comic adaptations to stay within the Fox Atomic fold. "We won't be doing the 'Borat' graphic novel," Lieb said. "Although that would be really tight."

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