As Comic-Con International 2014 #CCSD kicks off in San Diego, Universal Cable Productions (UCP) today announced three new deals that will bolster UCP's genre library and generate excitement among comic book enthusiasts. UCP has signed award-winning graphic novel writer Warren Ellis (New York Times best-seller Gun Machine, and Iron Man: Extremis - the Marvel Comics graphic novel and basis for Iron Man 3) to develop Ellis' first original TV series in collaboration with Gale Anne Hurd's Valhalla Entertainment (The Walking Dead, The Terminator).
Additionally, UCP and IDW Entertainment have optioned the horror comic book Night Mary with the intent to co-develop it as a live action TV series. UCP has also optioned the Kickstarter funded, breakout hit Five Ghosts written by Frank Barbiere and Chris Mooneyham from Black Mask Studios to develop it as an original TV series.
Here's what Dawn Olmstead, Executive Vice President, Development, Universal Cable Productions
"We love genre at UCP and thankfully so do audiences. We've made it a priority to seek out great properties that will attract equally great creators to adapt them. From Warren's dynamic plots and complex characters to the dark and suspenseful world of Night Mary, and the creative mash-up of five literary icons in the cult hit Five Ghosts, they are all provocative, distinctive and have the promise to be a whole lot of fun."
Based on the acclaimed IDW Publishing property created by Rick Remender and Kieron Dwyer, Night Mary follows a young woman trained to be a lucid dreamer. Her father owns a sleep disorder clinic where she enters the dreams of his patients. When a patient is revealed to be a serial killer, she is placed in jeopardy as nightmares and reality become frighteningly intertwined. John Pogue (The Quiet Ones) has been tapped to write and direct the pilot. Ted Adams and David Ozer from IDW Entertainment and David Alpert and Rick Jacobs from Circle of Confusion (The Walking Dead) will serve as executive producers along with John Pogue.
Five Ghosts is the stylish, pulpy adventure by Frank Barbiere and Chris Mooneyham that tells the story of a 1930s-era treasure hunter possessed by five literary ghosts (Merlin, Robin Hood, Sherlock Holmes, Musashi, and Dracula) whose unique abilities he can draw on during his adventures. Five Ghosts was funded on Kickstarter in 2012 and previewed at San Diego Comic Con that year when Matt Pizzolo (who would later co-found Black Mask Studios) shared his San Diego Comic Con table with then-unknown writer Frank Barbiere. Five Ghosts was picked up by Image Comics and premiered at Emerald City Comic Con becoming one of the breakout hits of 2013. UCP has optioned the TV series rights from Black Mask and has signed on Evan Daugherty (Snow White and the Huntsman, Divergent) to write the pilot and serve as executive producer. Chris Bender and Jake Weiner from Benderspink (Horrible Bosses 2, The Hangover) will also serve as executive producers along with Jake Wagner as producer, and Matt Pizzolo and Brett Gurewitz as co-executive producers.
UCP's currently untitled Warren Ellis project with Valhalla Entertainment marks the renowned writer's first foray into television. Here's what Warren Ellis had to say about the project in a statement.
"I've been strongly drawn to television over the last few years, and working with brilliant and determined collaborators like Gale and the UCP team, I'm delighted at the opportunity to add my voice to the new, novelistic TV form that's evolved so dramatically."
Gale Anne Hurd also offered her own statement.
"There are very few writers who have been able to so completely influence a medium as Warren has with comic books. I am very excited to be able to collaborate in bringing his unique vision to television for the first time."
Ellis is the award-winning writer of graphic novels Transmetropolitan, Fell, Ministry of Space and Planetary, and the author of the NYT-bestselling Gun Machine, currently in development at Microsoft, as well as the "underground classic" novel Crooked Little Vein. The film Red is based on his graphic novel of the same name, its sequel having been released in summer 2013. His Gravel books are in development for film at Legendary Pictures, with Tim Miller attached to direct. Iron Man 3 is based on his Marvel Comics graphic novel Iron Man: Extremis. Warren Ellis is currently working on a non-fiction book about the future of the city for Farrar Straus Giroux. His newest publication is the digital short-story single Dead Pig Collector, from FSG Originals. His next book will be the novella Normal, also from FSG, and his most recent comics project is Trees from Image Comics. A documentary about his work, Captured Ghosts, was released in 2012.