News and rumors on all of the TV shows based on comics in the works (there’s a lot)
Comic book TV shows in limbo
This section is dedicated to the properties that are in a far more tenuous position than the others. None of these properties actually have pilots ordered, and none are moving ahead. In many cases, the studios and/or production teams may have bought the rights just to have them. Basically, they are in limbo.
That can, and probably will change in the future with at least a few of these properties. If/when that happens, we will update the list with news. If they go into true development with a chance of actually reaching the air, we will move them to the previous section.
Comic book TV shows in limbo
Frank Miller’s mini-series Ronin is one of several films the SyFy Channel announced back in April 2014, and like most of the other properties, Ronin hasn’t shown much movement yet. This one may actually have a chance though, given Miller’s name recognition, and given the nearly two decades of interest from Hollywood players in trying to adapt the property – including Darren Aronofsky – SyFy may push this one through. That said, it’s odd that no one is even attached.
The story begins in Feudal Japan with a demon and a magical sword. After a samurai fails to save his master, he becomes a ronin until the time when he can destroy the demon. After years he succeeds, but the demon traps their souls in the sword. 800 years later they awaken in a dystopian, but highly technological future. There they continue their duel.
It has all the elements for an original, sci-fi driven show. If it gets made.
A new, live-action TV series based on the Static Shock comic book and animated series is in the very early stages of development at DC’s new digital division, Blue Ribbon Content.
The show would be unique for a few reasons. First, it would be one of the only comic book shows starring an African-American hero. Second, it will appear exclusively online.
Static Shock doesn’t have a distribution platform yet, and details are very scarce. There also hasn’t been much news since the project was announced in October. The character has something of a cult following though, and that has led to a higher visibility for him. That paired with the rise of the new division looking to make its name gives this show a good shot.
DC Imprint (including Vertigo)
Back in February 2014, SyFy ordered the Vertigo comic DMZ into development with Oscar-nominated producer, and frequent Alfonso Cuaron collaborator, David Heyman attached as showrunner.
A pilot was supposedly ordered in May, but since then there has been very little movement or news. The comic follows a journalist in an alternate America where New York City has become a demilitarized zone during a second Civil War. That could cause some budget concerns for SyFy, although there are ways around that for experienced producers.
Given SyFy’s unconventional production cycles, that doesn’t necessarily mean the project is dead, but there hasn’t been any noticeable movement. We’re counting this one in limbo until it isn’t.
Brooklyn Animal Control
Although still in the very early stage, USA Network is looking to adapt the IDW comic, Brooklyn Animal Control. No details have been released on the proposed adaptation yet, but the network only purchased the rights back in July 2015.
The comic focuses on a secretive community of werewolves living in Brooklyn, overseen by a group of case officers. The groups involved try to live their lives in a minefield of politics, family squabbles, and keeping the secret.
Commissioned back in July 2015, Anthony Del Col and Conor McCreery’s comic Kill Shakespeare features several of the playwright’s most famous heroes and villains, then pits them against one another as they hunt for a wizard named William Shakespeare.
Universal purchased the rights to adapt the property in July 2015, although so far no one is officially attached. That doesn’t mean it won’t be made, it just means it isn’t a high priority right now.
The Rick Remender graphic novel, Night Mary, is one of many IDW projects in development. Secured by Universal back in July 2014, the horror-comic focuses on a 17-year old whose father owns a sleep disorder clinic. She learns how to enter the dreams of patients, and when she comes across a serial killer her interactions turn deadly.
There hasn’t been much movement on the property since it was purchased, but that doesn’t mean much, at least not yet. It may still move forward in the future.
Back in April 2014, Xbox Entertainment announced a collaborative effort with IDW to create a live-action adaptation of Chuck Dixon and Jorge Zaffino’s 1980s comic, Winterworld. The story depicted a world covered in ice where the surviving humans fight over the dwindling resources. It was one of many planned projects.
The project isn’t entirely dead, but Microsoft’s efforts have fallen apart. Winterworld was meant to be one of many TV shows from Xbox Entertainment Studios, but in July 2014 the studio officially closed down. That doesn’t necessarily mean a live-action adaptation of Witnerworld is dead, but it will need a new home.
Originally envisioned as a movie, Dreadstar is now being developed for TV. No network is attached, but given the popularity of sci-fi epics, as well as the somewhat recent ability to create convincing special effects at relatively inexpensive costs, there is a better chance now than ever before that a live action version of Jim Starlin’s comic may actually happen.
The character of Dreadstar was first introduced as a supporting character in an anthology story known as “The Metamorphosis Odyssey.” That story ended with the Milky Way being destroyed, and Dreadstar finding himself in a new galaxy.
After waking much, much later, Dreadstar attempted to live as a farmer. His peaceful life was shattered, and he found himself in the middle of a conflict between a corrupt monarchy and a vicious theocracy. Dreadstar assembled a crew of misfits and became a freedom fighter and revolutionary.
The story was heavily inspired by Star Wars. With audiences once again craving space operas thanks to the upcoming Episode VII, there is a shot this could happen. It’s still in the very early stages though. NBCUniversal has the first look rights, but it hasn’t made a decision yet.
Although once high on SyFy’s list of properties to adapt, Frank J. Barbiere’s and Chris Mooneyham’s Five Ghosts seems to have stalled. For more than a year and a half, there hasn’t been much word on this property.
The story follows a man with the ability to harness the power of five literary archetypes. The ghosts are never named, but they correspond to the likes of Merlin, Robin Hood, Sherlock Holmes, Miyamoto Musashi, and Dracula.
Writer Evan Daugherty was hired to write the script, with Chris Bender and Jake Weiner producing, and Jake Wagner set to executive produce.
A comic based on Tim Seeley’s Hack/Slash was in development as a feature film as far back as 2006. The initial plan was for Rogue to have it ready for a 2008 release, and director Todd Lincoln was attached. That project faded away and was reborn in 2010 as an animated film, and then it was again set for a live-action treatment with Marcus Nispel set to direct.
None of that happened, of course, but the project is now at Relativity, which is looking to develop it as a TV series with Skip Woods attached to write and act as showrunner. It is still very early in the development stages, and a network is not yet attached.
The comic began in 2004, and tells the story of Cassie Hack, the survivor of a massacre. She then takes off across the country to hunt down slashers that pray on the young, including a mix of famous horror movie villains like the “Re-Animator,” Chucky, and more. Basically, Cassie becomes the monster to monsters.
Based on the series co-created by B. Clay Moore and Steven Griffin, the comic Hawaiian Dick is currently in development at NBC with Johnny Knoxville attached as an executive producer (and probable star). It follows a cop exiled to Hawaii, where he finds himself in the middle of dark, and possibly supernatural elements.
The show is being billed as a one-hour action/comedy series with the feel of a procedural. The adaptation seems to be moving forward, but at the moment there is nothing more than a script on the way. It will then be up to the executives at NBC to decide if they want to move ahead or not.
The Infinite Horizon
There is a chance that this project will actually end up as a movie rather than a TV show – assuming it goes anywhere at all, of course.
Warner Bros and Greg Berlanti (who is on this list more and more) purchased the rights to develop Gerry Duggan’s graphic novel, which is in turn an adaptation of Homer’s The Odyssey. Like the original that inspired it, The Infinite Horizon features a nameless protagonist as he faces several obstacles standing in the way of getting home.
The Infinite Horizon is still in the very early stages, and Berlanti’s increasingly busy schedule could complicate things.
Lazarus focuses on the character Forever Carlyle, a member of the powerful Carlyle family, one of 16 families in charge of the world. Forever is the “lazarus” of the family, a genetically enhanced and nearly unkillable family member designated as the protector of that group. It’s set in a future suffering from an economic collapse, where the destitute are more than willing to kill to survive.
Although it debuted just over a year ago, Greg Rucka and Michael Lark’s comic Lazarus ignited a bidding war among TV studios, with Legendary eventually walking away the winner. Rucka will write the pilot for the show.
Matt Fraction and his wife Kelly Sue DeConnick have signed a development deal with Universal to create new TV shows that will then be sold to various networks. That deal will include the development of several properties including original shows, not just comics. That said, the first property in the works is Fraction’s comic Sex Criminals.
The comic focuses on a librarian and an actor that can freeze time when they orgasm. There is no network attached yet, but the project is moving along.
Thief of Thieves
At this point pretty much anything Robert Kirkman puts his name on may be bought and developed into a TV show thanks to the success of The Walking Dead. And no network knows that better than AMC. Kirkman doesn’t even write the series – it is a rotating group of authors – but he is the creator, and therefore it is a valuable property.
The show has been in development for over a year now, but Kirkman recently claimed things are still looking good. Given that it’s AMC, and given the insane success Kirkman’s work has brought, that means it really is in development.
The story follows a master thief named Redmond, who suddenly decides to only steal from other thieves in an effort to make up for his past deeds. As a result, he is wanted by both the police and his fellow thieves. AMC has yet to name a showrunner, but that should come soon, even if the show never goes anywhere.
The Wicked + The Divine
As part of the deal that may see Sex Criminals come to TV, Universal TV is also developing another Matt Fraction and Kelly Sue comic, The Wicked + The Divine. There are even less details known about it than Sex Criminals, but both are moving ahead.
The story focuses on a teenage girl who becomes intertwined with a group known as the Pantheon. The Pantheon consists of 12 members who are given supernatural powers – and fame and fortune along with them – but at the cost of only living for two years. This cycle then repeats every 90 years.
Universal has ties with several TV networks, but a development deal hasn’t been reached with any of them yet. It could happen any day now.
(ABC – TBA)
Although ABC once seemed hot on creating a half-hour Marvel sitcom, Damage Control seems to have fallen into limbo. If it does get a greenlight, it will be overseen by Daily Show and Colbert Report executive producer Ben Karlin.
The idea for Damage Control is based on the comic of the same name, which debuted in 1988 and followed a group of blue collar workers hired to clean up and rebuild after superhero battles level big chunks of a city. They expanded their role to help with the odd recovery mission and the like, but they were generally depicted as a beleaguered clean-up crew.
The Damage Control team later went gritty and hardcore, and during the Civil War storyline in the comics its CEO was depicted as being complicit in the death and destruction of hundreds in Stamford, CT, in order to profit from the cleanup. Wolverine then stabbed the CEO in the face. The show probably wouldn’t go that route..
Empire of the Dead
The unofficial father of modern zombies, George Romero, is working on adapting a comic he wrote for Marvel that features zombies – naturally – and vampires. The comic debuted in January 2014 and ran for 15 issues. It was broken up into three, five issue acts.
Romero will oversee the TV show with his longtime partner Peter Grunwald, but at the moment there is no studio attached. Given the popularity of zombies and Romero’s clout, it should move ahead quickly.
Untitled Marvel Superhero Project
Almost nothing is known about this show other than the fact that it is “reinventing an existing Marvel superhero character or property for ABC,” which could be thousands of characters. We also know that it is being developed by Academy Award winning screenwriter John Ridley, who won his Oscar for writing 12 Years a Slave.
That has led many to assume Ridley is adapting a black character for television, but that’s not necessarily the case. Ridely did briefly write for the Static Shock animated series, but that show is already in development. Until more is announced (or leaked), it’s all guesswork.
Universal Cable and Dark Horse Comics recently signed a development deal to bring four of the publisher’s properties to the small screen. Of them all, Back Up is the most mysterious.
The deal includes Back Up, Concrete, Harrow County, and The Umbrella Academy. The major difference between those other three and this property is that they already exist. No issues have been released, but there is a synopsis:
“In the near future, a new technology allows people to be backed up the same way we now back up our computers – but instead of protecting against drive failure, these backups protect against death. This project is based on a feature script by Tom Vaughn. Kenny Golde is set to write and executive produce. Brad Anderson (Zoo, Almost Human) is in negotiations to direct.”
More details will presumably be coming soon.
Another SyFy project, and another Robert Kirkman comic being developed into a TV show. The comics are still fairly early on, but Kirkman’s name alone carries a lot of weight with TV networks looking to have even a hint of the success that AMC had with The Walking Dead. The comic is actually from David Schulner, but it prints under Kirkman’s Skybound imprint, and therefore carries his name.
The comic focuses on a retired soldier that discovers a clone of himself while investigating a break-in at his house. The series then plays out like a mystery, as the soldier discovers that he is part of something much bigger. As with the other SyFy properties the channel recently purchased, there isn’t any news on its progress.
Paul Chadwick’s Concrete is one of the oldest characters in Dark Horse Comics’ library, so it isn’t all that surprising that it would be among the four properties included in the recent deal between Universal and Dark Horse.
Concrete is the story of an average man whose consciousness is transferred into a body made of concrete. Rather than going off to fight crime, he attempts to adjust to his new life in a powerful body that feels almost nothing. It is more heartbreaking than thrilling, but it is typically brilliant and worthy of the many awards it has received.
The deal is still in the very early days, so it could be a while before there is any real movement on Concrete. There was an attempt to make a film of this back in the 90s, and at one point Bill Murray was informally attached, but it didn’t make it much farther than that.
Horror icon Wes Craven has optioned the sci-fi thriller, The Disciples, from 30 Days of Night creators Steve Niles and Christopher Mitten, and the fledgling Black Mask Studios. The story is billed as a “ghost story in space,” with grounded science fused with horror.
Craven will bring the project to life with help from Universal Cable Productions, the team behind other sci-fi shows, including the US version of Being Human and Defiance. No timetable has been given for the show, but Craven is occupied with the upcoming TV adaptation of his horror series, Scream, which is set to debut on MTV later this year.
Created in the 70s and later adapted into a live-action Spanish-language TV series, Universal is adapting El Pantera with Warren Ellis and Gale Anne Hurd attached to produce. Televisa USA will co-produce. It is still in the very early stages though, and a pilot hasn’t been announced yet.
The story focuses on a fictional Metropolis on the border of the US and Mexico, where the Mexican mafia threatens to overrun the city. When a young officer is made the head of police, he releases his wrongly imprisoned friend and the two create a vigilante known as “El Pantera.”
Commissioned in July 2015, this one is still in the very early stages.
The comic Enormous is just over a three years old, but its story (and strong sales) were enough for 20th Century Fox and New Regency Television to buy the property and begin to develop it as an “event series.”
Beyond that there aren’t really any details on the TV series. The comic focuses on the rise of a new breed of massive creatures that threaten to wipe out humanity. Many of the survivors unite to fight off the new creatures – and other humans.
Machinima previously released a webseries based on this comic, written by Trollhunter helmer André Øvredal and directed by BenDavid Grabinski. The new series will be original, but it will likely be somewhat similar in tone. Check it out here.
The graphic novel series, Essex County by Jeff Lemire, has been optioned by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Aaron Martin is set to write the pilot and act as showrunner, while Ted Adams, Chris Staros, Christina Piovesan, Lemire and Martin will executive produce.
The three graphic novels that make up the trilogy follows several connected characters, all living, working, and dying in rural Ontario. The story trades superheroes for personal drama, with a grounded story.
Things are looking very good for the project, but it is still in the very early stages.
Judge Dredd: Mega City One
Independent studio, IM Global, and game developer, Rebellion, are creating a live-action TV show based on the comic (and later movies) Judge Dredd. The plan is to create an ensemble show following the law enforcement division known as Judges, who patrol and defend the futuristic mega city that covers the East Coast known as Mega City One.
The show will not directly be connected to the movies.
At the moment, no stars or studio is attached, although IM Global Television president Mark Stern – who helped develop Battlestar Galactica, Defiance, and Helix – has deep connections to SyFy Channel. Despite the movement, at the moment the show is still just in development and a pilot has not yet been ordered.
The SyFy Channel went on a purchasing tear in April, gobbling up comic properties, encouraged by the insane success of all the other comic properties that are essentially printing off money. At the moment through, while they are all technically in development, none have seen much movement, including the critically acclaimed Oni comic, Letter 44.
Letter 44 begins when a newly elected President reads a letter from his predecessor revealing a secret mission to investigate an alien object located in the asteroid belt. While most of the proposed SyFy shows are miniseries, Letter 44 is intended as an ongoing series – if it happens.
In April 2014, SyFy announced a miniseries based on the four issue Image comic series that ran from December 2007 to November 2008 from Jonathan Hickman. There TV series is being written by the team responsible for Warehouse 13, but since the announcement, there hasn’t been much movement on the show.
The story revolves around a Vatican team that discovers time travel. They decide to go back in time to “fix” things. They begin by sending a heavily armed team back to Rome 312 AD, but when the Cardinal in charge is shot, things go sideways. No word on it since the announcement.
Actor Peter Facinelli is helping to develop the graphic novel Protocol Orphans, which he himself wrote alongside Rob DeFranco. The adaptation is in development at Fox, although so far only a pilot script has been approved.
The story focuses on a foster family raised by the U.S. government to act as a team of covert operatives. While not fighting America’s enemies, they are busy fighting themselves.
Studios and producers have been trying to adapt Grant Morrison’s works for years without luck, but this one seems to have some momentum. Based on Morrison’s upcoming comic of the same name for the new Black Mask Studios, Sinatoro, the project has some powerful players backing it – although at the moment it is still just a concept.
Filmmakers Chris and Paul Weitz, along with Universal Television, are working with Morrison to bring the project to life. The story focuses on a soldier who is sent into a bizarre alternative world, based on a twisted version of American mythologies and legends, with a hint of the Tibetan Book of the Dead thrown in for good measure. The property originally started out as a screenplay for a movie, then a comic, and now a TV series.
The project is currently still in the scripting phases. The next sstep will then be to find a director to create a working vision of the pilot, and from there they will begin to pitch the project to studios. It has a long way to go, but Sinatoro is moving ahead.
The Umbrella Academy
There have been several aborted attempts over the years to bring Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá’s The Umbrella Academy to life as a movie, animated series, and live-action show, but none of them have gone very far. A new deal between Dark Horse and Universal Cable Production could change that.
The Umbrella Academy is the story of a group of estranged superheroes, described as a “dysfunctional family of superheroes.” The members of the team are the seven survivors of a pool of 43 mysterious births, all seemingly unconnected. A man nicknamed “The Monocle,” adopts the seven in order to train them for a coming, global threat.
The recent deal includes this comic, Harrow County, Back Up and Concrete. Of the four, this is arguably the most well known (with the possible exception of Concrete). That would seemingly give it the best chance of being made first.
Did we miss any TV shows based on comics?
Hear of any bits of news or rumors on the shows? Let us know in the comments below!