You might expect Jon Geoffries to be happy to learn that he is a unique individual. Instead, this discovery might get him killed. This is the premise of “Unique,” an upcoming graphic novel written by Dean Motter and pencilled by Stefano Cardoselli from Platinum Studios, which is also being developed as a film by Touchstone Pictures. CBR News caught up with Motter as well as Platinum Studios’ Aaron Severson to learn more about this project.
According to Motter our world has a parallel counterpart in “Unique.” Motter described the twin Earth as, “A mirror of our own, except that human society is strictly nocturnal. And our worlds are phased in such a way that when it is day in one it is night in the other.” The night world is similar to our own but it is marked by many cultural differences as the result of humanity developing in darkness. A shared history and population tie these worlds together. Motter continued, “With rare exceptions each individual has a counterpart in the other dimension. And each major event has a similar reciprocal event. There are unscrupulous types that seek to affect events in one dimension by manipulating those in the other. They do this by means of the people who have no doppelgangers and are able to move from world to world. These people are referred to as ‘Uniques’.”
Jon Geoffries is a Unique. Unlike many comic book protagonists, John Geoffries is not an action hero. Motter describes him as an almost “nebbish” everyman. John is a normal guy targeted by a cabal of sinister individuals in both worlds hoping to manipulate him.
Unique is science fiction, but it’s not about technology as is usually the case. It was inspired by classic paranoia/thrillers like “North by Northwest” and “Vertigo.” Motter described the story as “The Fugitive” meets the “Twilight Zone.”
“It is about deception, desperation and there’re some existential themes in it.” Motter likened it to the “Prisoner” series he wrote for DC Comics rather than his recent “Terminal City” series.
Platinum Studios first approached Motter with the idea for “Unique.” He took Platinum’s original idea, tweaked it and fleshed it out. He then turned it into a proposal and finally a script.
Motter has just begun working with “Unique” penciller Stefano Cardoselli. Previously, Cardoselli has lent his talents to “Heavy Metal,” “2000 AD” and Antarctic Press’s “Winds of Winter.” Of his work on “Unique,” Motter said, “We are very early into the illustration of the book. There is a bit of a learning curve since English isn’t his first language- but I do like what I’ve seen so far.”
“Unique” is an original graphic novel that is tentatively scheduled to be released in 2005. Motter said that if sales merit there are plans for sequels.
It was announced last month that “Unique” is being developed as a feature film at Touchstone Pictures. David Heyman, the producer of the Harry Potter films, has signed on to produce the film and Michael Cooney, the writer of last year’s psychological thriller, “Identity,” will write the screenplay. David Goyer, the writer of “Blade” and “Blade II,” and the writer/director of this summer’s “Blade III: Trinity” will be directing the big screen version of “Unique.”
You might think that getting a film development deal for a comic that hasn’t been published yet is difficult. According to Aaron Severson, an associate producer on “Unique,” this isn’t always true. “If a comic hasn’t been published yet, that can sometimes work in its favor,” said Severson, “because it can help to get the studio interested in the world and the characters rather than just the specific plot of the finished book (which may not always lend itself to a feature film). And it allows the release of the comic to be timed to the build-up for the film.”
From Platinum’s home in Beverly Hills the studio actively pitches upcoming comics to studios. When they approached the President of Touchstone Pictures, Nina Jacobson, she was immediately taken with “Unique.” According to Severson, “Unique’s” lead character was the real draw for Jacobson, a protagonist for which she had immediate empathy for.
Like many comic book based movies, the film will differ slightly from the source material, but the spirit and themes of the work will remain intact. According to Severson, the plot of the film will differ from the graphic novel. “It’s not so much a matter of changing the universe of Dean’s story, but showing a somewhat different view of it.”
Production and casting have yet to begin for the movie, but when “Unique” is released Touchstone has big plans for the film. Severson said Touchstone sees “Unique” as a “tentpole film,” one that will appeal and capture the imagination of a large audience. “They’re not looking for a niche-market project, but something that will be exciting and accessible for a wide audience. At the same time, Michael Cooney and David Goyer are constructing a very intricate and thoughtful story line with some interesting philosophical issues at the core. So it’s going to be a mainstream film, but definitely not a brain-dead action flick.”
Motter isn’t involved in translating “Unique” to the silver screen, but he is pleased with the talent working on the film saying, “I think it is in very good hands.”
When asked who he envisioned portraying Jon Geoffries, Motter’s choices were classic Hollywood everyman actors. “Well… You know, some days I think Wally Cox, other days I think a young Jimmy Stewart or Dick Powell..”
The graphic novel and the film versions of Unique won’t be released for awhile, but Motter’s intriguing story and some big name Hollywood talent will have many comic book and movie fans eagerly awaiting John Geoffries identity quest.