If memory serves, Astro City has been under option of some kind since at least the early-to-mid ’00s. Back then, super hero movies were just starting to heat up with Spidey and X-Men, but Marvel hadn’t gotten their own studio together yet. These days, TV is arguably as needy as the film studios when it comes to comics licenses. (See: Netflix) And so, FreemantleMedia North America has come into possession of the film rights for Astro City.
FreeMantle is actually pretty big. They produce everything from The Price is Right to American Gods. What’s a bit more interesting is that Kurt Busiek, himself, is co-writing the pilot.
For those coming in late, Astro City is a nearly 25 year old comic, currently published by DC/Vertigo (originally at Image), about a town where a lot of super heroes live. It’s by Busiek, Brent Anderson and Alex Ross. It doesn’t really follow a particular hero or group of heroes, so much as it bounces around exploring the corners of its universe with an emphasis the human side of things. It’s well worth your time to sample if you haven’t.
Official PR follows:
FremantleMedia North America, the studio behind the acclaimed American Gods TV series, has obtained the rights to Astro City. Spanning 16 (and counting) collected, standalone yet loosely-connected story arcs containing more than 2,000 original characters, the fictional Astro City universe explores the lives of ordinary people and those of the all-too-human superhumans in their midst, and their collective, daily struggle to hold on to hope in the face of world-shaking, life-altering events beyond any single individual’s control.
A mid-sized American city blessed with, and cursed by, the largest number of superheroes and supervillains in one place on Earth, Astro City is a unique brand of humanistic saga — part superhero epic, part intimate drama — in which the (mostly) good hearted, workaday residents of the eponymous locale come into daily contact with the worrisome, the weird and the wondrous.
Currently published by DC Comics, the multiple award-winning, critically acclaimed, Astro City comics series, created by writer Kurt Busiek and artists Brent Anderson and Alex Ross has — in the 23 years since its 1995 Image Comics debut — remained a triple threat worldwide: a sales success, critics’ choice, and fan favorite. The property’s vastly detailed story world represents the last, fully fleshed out superhero universe in the English language comic book business that remains unexploited for the screen.
The live action Astro City television drama series is being produced by FremantleMedia North America, with its pilot episode being written by Kurt Busiek and Rick Alexander. Gregory Noveck serves as Executive Producer of the series, along with Alexander and Busiek.
Said Busiek, “It’s a thrill to be working with Rick, Gregory and FremantleMedia on this. Everyone, at every turn, is supportive, helpful and completely focused on capturing the feel of Astro City and bringing it to life as a TV show. I can’t wait to see it all take wing.”
Astro City creator/writer, Kurt Busiek, is one of the most-honored writers in the comics industry today, having won over two dozen industry awards including the prestigious Eisner and Harvey Awards for Best Series, Best Single Issue, Best Writer, Best New Series and more. In addition to Astro City, Busiek’s decades of success in the creator-owned comics space has also included the titles Arrowsmith, Shockrockets, Superstar: As Seen on TV, The Wizard’s Tale, Jonny Demon, The Liberty Project and Ransom. His most recent original comics series is The Autumnlands, with artist Benjamin Dewey.
Film and television writer-producer and genre-IP acquisition and adaptation specialist, Rick Alexander, is currently Executive Producer on EuropaCorp Television’s series version of Howard Chaykin’s landmark ’80s sci-fi comic, American Flagg!, and is also developing UK comics creator Warren Ellis’ horror infused military actioner, Gravel, as a feature for Legendary Entertainment.
Gregory Noveck, through his Slow Learner banner, is developing George R.R. Martin’s Wild Cards at Universal Cable Productions and James Patterson’s Virgin at Sonar.
Busiek was represented by attorney, Harris Miller, and Alexander was represented by Jim Ehrich of the Rothman Brecher Ehrich Livingston agency, and attorney Tom Collier of Sloane Offer Weber and Dern, LLP. Noveck was represented by WME.
FremantleMedia North America’s Executive Vice President of Scripted Programming and Development, Stefanie Berk, is overseeing for the studio.
Todd Allen wears a lot of hats. At various times he’s been (alphabetically), a bouncer, college professor, humor columnist, Internet producer and an NBA/WNBA Beat Writer, among other things. He’s the author of Economics of Digital Comics. You should probably read it.