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American Original's Weekend At ComicCon (CNT'D)
By Jeff Katz
Some of the announcements broken at the panel include:
- American Original and Emmy-nominated editor Scott Aukerman (Mr. Show) have assembled a spectacular line-up of established comedians to produce the graphic novel series "Comedy Death Ray." Bob Odenkirk, Sarah Silverman, Patton Oswalt, B.J. Novak, David Cross, Janeane Garofalo, Paul Scheer, Brian Posehn, Paul F. Tompkins and Zach Galifianakis are among some of the first to contribute to the anthology, for which each comedian will create a comic book.
- My first announced film project will be to adapt the sports documentary "BIGGER, STRONGER, FASTER" into a scripted feature. The project, to be penned by the doc's helmer Chris Bell with Jason Dolan ("Sydney Hall"), will be a "Traffic"-like exploration of performance-enhancing drugs. I think this is a timely, important movie. I was a huge fan of the documentary (which is must viewing if you haven't seen it) and am thrilled to be bringing this subject matter to the big screen.
- Separately, “Book of Eli” scribe Gary Whitta (also the writer up the upcoming big screen AKIRA and WORLD OF WARCRAFT movies) is adapting Brian Lynch’s prison-based comicbook “Daybreak,” which is a throwback to 80's anti-hero movies in the vein of John Carpenter and Kurt Russell's collaborations. Fan-favorite comic artist Darick Robertson (THE BOYS, TRANSMETROPOLITAN) will be doing the covers for Richard Fairgray's BLASTOSAURUS. Fairgray, a 24 year old comic writer, artist and publisher that is legally blind is a true talent and one to watch. We are doing also doing a sci-fi anthology entitled “The Galaxy Project” with a host of top screenwriting and comic talent. The anthology will feature exclusive creature designs by Oscar-winning monstermakers Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff.
- As noted previously, I've joined the board of Longbox Digital Comics, which was a hot topic at the Con. CEO Rantz Hoseley joined us on the panel and we were promptly swamped for beta codes for the upcoming Longbox beta test in August. Check out CNET's terrific coverage of Longbox here: http://download.cnet.com/8301-2007_4-10294587-12.html
- American Original has also inked a four-pic pact with Titmouse Animation, the fantastic team behind the “Afro Samurai,” "G.I. Joe: Resolute” and “Metalocalypse” animated series. These guys also do the Guitar Hero animations and have launched their own videogame production division, which we'll be working with as well. These guys are one of a kind and it's a pleasure to be in business with them.
- On Wednesday, Variety broke the launch of our new American Original Branding division, designed to help corporate clients and individual talents build their brands in the genre marketplace. We were able to feature a few of our clients on the panel, including Chris Monfette, who is the protege of Clive Barker and someone who is going to be a major genre player. Monfette currently writes for IGN.com and his first project for us is DEEP CUTS, a horror film done in the style of Robert Altman's multi-layered character pieces like SHORT CUTS or NASHVILLE and featuring every subgenre of horror mashed-up into one movie over one wild night. We were also joined by Blair Butler of G4TV, who I'm very proud to have signed as a branding client. Blair is widely regarded as one of the leading female authorities in genre entertainment and comics beyond being a remarkable creative talent in her own right. Blair has a tremendous audience already and has barely scratched the surface of her potential as a multimedia force. She's also another sign that fandom knows no race, creed, color, gender or sexual orientation. Fandom is everyone.
- I was also proud - and I suppose it's highly relevant given the roots of the 'Hustle' - to announce the first corporate client of our branding arm, TNA Wrestling. TNA talents Christopher Daniels and the Motor City Machine Guns joined us on the dais as I announced my return to the wrestling industry - with film and comics, one of my true loves - after a decade away from the business. I've had a wonderful journey in my time away from wrestling, making movies all over the world and building relationships with some fascinating people across the entertainment industry. And throughout that time I've never been naive to the fact that I owe much of my success in that business to the wrestling industry. When I dropped out of college after my freshman year to move to Los Angeles and intern at New Line Cinema, it was the little money I saved from my time in WCW that I lived on. While navigating the choppy waters of Hollywood, it was the training and experience I received in the wrestling business as a teenager that I applied to rise through the ranks. In my eyes, there would be no FREDDY VS. JASON, no SNAKES, no WOLVERINE, no SHOOT EM UP, without the three years I spent in that crazy, wonderful business. The wrestling business made me a Vice President at two movie studios before the age of 30. It made American Original, my lifelong dream, possible. So, damn it, it's high time I gave something back. I've sat idly by for years as the business crumbled, new brands and talents emerged and the current status quo was established. Well, I'm no fan of the current status quo. I think the wrestling industry needs to stop fighting the wars of the late 90's and start looking forward. I think it's time to evolve and I look forward to working with Dixie Carter and company to give her company and this business a little something different. So why TNA? Why now? Why am I really coming back? And what do I intend to do? I've got a lot to say on this subject but that, my friends, is another blog altogether. And that blog will happen right here on the 'Heyman Hustle.'
So there you have it. It was was a packed panel but the response was great (and we only went 90 seconds over schedule!) and I couldn't be happier with this years San Diego experience. This blog has been a total blast and something I've really enjoyed getting to do. But before I go, I have a final - but highly important - note. I'd like to focus on one final special announcement.
I want to say how proud I am to have the proprietor of this particular brand of 'Hustle,' the great Paul Heyman, joining us to do his first published comic book work at American Original. Paul has been a friend for a long time and I have tremendous respect for his storytelling ability. He understands structure, story and character in a way that is both timeless, current and cross-genre. Paul, courtesy of a specially produced 'Heyman Hustle' FEDEX'ed in from New York, announced on the panel that he'll be writing an urban action title in the vein of 80's Walter Hill films like THE WARRIORS and STREETS OF FIRE. When I launched the American Original Press comic line, I immediately targeted outside-the-box creative talent as a priority and I think Paul Heyman is emblematic of that philosophy. Having him on our team is a major coup. I have big plans for this guy and think he has a lot to offer the entertainment world, far beyond his wrestling roots. I think it's safe to say that this is only the beginning of our creative collaboration together. Heyman & Katz, together? You all might want to run for your damn lives. ;)
Thanks to everyone for following us during the Con. It's been a pleasure interacting with you. You can continue to follow American Original at www.twitter.com/katzmoney and www.facebook.com/katzmoney. Your support and enthusiasm is hugely appreciated.
Yours in fandom,