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Issue #99

Happy holidays to all the comic book movie fans out there. Asa special holiday gift, our pals over at ADV films have droppedoff a Comics 2 Film exclusive regarding the Lady Death animatedmovie. Likewise Matt Wagner shares additional insights intolast week's Mage movie announcement. These aren't the onlyunder our tree. I'll just wish you all a safe and happyholiday and then turn you loose on this week's stories!

LADY DEATH: THE ANIMATION

ADV Films and Chaos! Comics premiers it's website promoting the upcomingLady Death animated feature which is apparently titled Lady Death: TheAnimation. The new site can be found at http://www.ladydeaththemovie.com/.However, at press time the domain name not fully propagated and may notbe accessible from certain locations for a few days.

According to Andy Orjuela of ADV, future updates to the site will featureproduction artwork and animated trailers. The current site features arun down of the characters from the cast and an interview with Lady Deathcreator Brian Pulido. Here are some excerpts:

When asked how the animated movie will expand on Lady Death's historyPulido replied, "We will be looking at the origin of Lady death in theupcoming OVA. It is her early history where we see her transition froma girl named Hope to the female personification of death!"

Pulido also talked about the elements of the story that would beemphasized in the movie, "We will focus on Lady Death's earlyhistory. The story will take us from the dark ages in Europe duringthe black plague to the fiery pits of Hell."

Finally, the writer had some general comments on animated versions ofcomic books. Pulido said, "By and large, the Americans have notdelivered a quality product. WildC.A.T.S was mediocre. Spawn choosesto de-emphasize the fantastic elements of the story, which does it agreat disservice. It is a dark, gloomy cartoon that might as well belive action.

"I am a great fan of Japanese animation. I am sure Phoenix Entertainment is the right studio to bring Lady Death to life.

"With Lady Death I am committed to pushing the envelope and usinganimation to do things live action cannot do. Lady Death's story isgrand, epic and fantastic. I will not change that. If anything, inthe animation we will see Lady Death as I envisioned her for the first time."

Go to the Lady Death website for a complete transcript of the interview.

ADV Films also launched a website promoting their upcoming theatricalrelease called Spriggan at http://www.sprigganthemovie.com. Theproduction house will will be on a major national convention tourpromoting Lady Death: The Animation along with SIN: The Movie (basedon the computer game), and the theatrical release of Spriggan. Look fortour details on the main ADV website.

Enlarge

Just last night Andy Orjuela, Special Projects Coordinator forADV Films dropped off an early holiday present for Comics 2 Filmreaders. Santa Andy dropped off two pieces of design artworkfrom the movie.

These illustrations represent the first such drawings available onthe internet. These and many others will soon be available on theofficial website for the movie. Orjuela told C2F that they shouldhave all the kinks worked out with the LD:A domain name soon.

Enlarge

The first image is of Cremator. A young, medieval sculptor istragically transformed into this blacksmith for the lords ofhell. His fiery fists become awesome weapons as the artistturned weapon smith fights to be free of his demonic enslavement.

The second image is of Father Orbec is the town clergyman whoaccuses young Hope of devil-worship. He ultimately condemnsher to death, setting her on her journey to become Lady Death.

MAGE

[Mage]Matt Wagner spoke to Comics 2 Film last week about his recently announced Mage movie deal.

Andrew Cosby and Ross Richie of Critical Mass Entertainment are the producers of the movie. "They approached me actually, several years ago, they were fledgling producers and really wanted to give me a pitch on how they saw the movie running," Wagner told us. "We're really on the same wavelength as to what the movie should be."

The trio are enthused about working with Spyglass Pictures, who recently optioned the movie. "Spyglass had seen the property a while ago and was very excited about it. When we finally put it fully out there, they were not only the first ones to bite but they were the ones that both Andrew and Ross seemed to think were in absolute agreement with what the movie should be."

Spyglass appreciated the concept where other potential filmmakers didn't seem to get it. Wagner explained, "Some of the interest we'd had from people were along these lines, 'Yeah! Yeah! We love it! but can we get rid of the King Arthur stuff and does [a major character] have to die at the end?' If it was a totally different property and movie!"

Spyglass on the other hand "seems to be more interested in makingit an accurate depiction. After seeing The Sixth Sense, they'reobviously someone who's willing to pay attention to story."

Wagner's also excited to have hooked up with screenwriter JohnRogers for the project, "We really feel like we caught John, onhis way up, in a big way. I think we're going to see a lot ofimportant things from him."

We asked Wagner how that relationship began. "He came looking forus when he heard Spyglass had it because he's such a big Mage fan,"the comic creator told C2F. "He's been a television writer and astand-up comic and he just sold his screenplay for Jesse James whichis just terrific. I forget which studio is doing it, but they'refilming his first draft which is, like, unheard of. Once I readit I could see why everybody immediately thought he could do Mage."

Wagner continues, "[Jesse James] is very character heavy and yetthere's also lots of action. He's really great about doing dialogamongst the group without being ponderous. Character gets exposedduring the action. His quips are funny, you don't see them cominga mile away. They're not pop topical."

Although he expects great work from Rogers, Wagner reiterated thathe doesn't expect the movie to be exactly like the comic. "It'snot going to be a panel-by-panel rendition. I don't think itshould be a panel-by-panel rendition. The whole point is to catchthe various high points and a lot of the visual things that peopleremember from it, like for instance, Kevin falling through theelevator. It's just important to catch those scenes. They don'tnecessarily have to be in exactly the same points they were inthe book. that's what translation is all about."

Wagner told us that the Mage movie may take precedence over thethird arc of the comics. However he won't wait another 10 yearsbefore continuing his semi-autobiographical work. "To me it'sall allegory, it's all metaphor which is the way I look at mythand religion anyway," Wagner said of the autobiographical natureof Mage. "But the people that populate it are drawn from my reallife. The three witches in The Hero Defined: that's my wife andher sisters. The next volume will definitely be the Kevin andMagda show. My son can't wait until he's in Mage.

"Mage is very strange for me. I don't plan it out. It happens to me.Unlike anything else I work on I don't write out a plot, I don'tdo any thumbnails, I sit down with blank pages and just startgoing. I know where I want it to take me, and where I want it toend issue by issue but getting there is this page by page step bystep process. I love that with Mage. It just happens. It justflows out of me."

Another project for Wagner is the upcoming Grendel novel. About amonth ago, Greg Rucka, who had just signed a deal to adapt hisWhiteout as a movie, revealed he was writing a the novel whichWagner will illustrate.

"Its a Grendel Prime story," Wagner told C2F. "It's just great, Greg's a great writer."

Wagner reveals that the story centers on "Susan Veraghen, the galwith the white skin in the green hair [from Grendel: War Child].It's the story about how, she's in exile, and she searches outGrendel Prime who's also in exile and becomes his companion.They become a team basically. She's his Robin."

The illustrated novel is due out in April.

THE TENTH/ADRENALYN

According to a posting by Tony Daniel on his F5 Entertainment website, feature films based on his comics The Tenth andAdrenalynn are in the early stages of development.

"We are currently in negotiations with people in Japan to create a Tenth anime feature that would appear theatrically in Japan and then on video for release here in the States," Daniel tells his readers. "We're also looking into releasing a Manga version of the Tenth comic in Japan, which in turn would be also be produced in all the other countries, including America. Again, neither are done deals yet, but I thought you all might like to know what I'm up to, so wish me luck."

Daniel later writes, "On Adrenalynn news, Alan McElroy, writer ofthe Spawn movie as well as its first season of HBO cartoons, isworking on creating an Adrenalynn movie, based on some of theideas presented in her miniseries. Warner Bros. already havealready shown interest in producing it." Daniel and company areexpected to pitch the concept to studios at the end of this year.

X-MEN

It's been an interesting week for fans of the X-Men movie. Cinescapewowed fans with a photo of Bryan Singer on the set, apparently sizingup a shot of Magneto's helmet. However, the story and the photo werequickly pulled from the online magazine's front page. The photo, alongwith others, will appear in the January/February issue of the pintedition of the magazine. The Magneto helmet can still be found onvarious sites on the internet.

Meanwhile, the Daily Radar reports that Danny Elfman is tentativelyset to compose music for X-Men. Elfman's music should be familiar tocomic fans. He composed the beautiful score for Batman as well asproviding music for The Flash, The Simpsons, Tales From The Crypt andtoo many others to mention. However, this information conflicts withprevious reports that Singer collaborator John Ottman (The UsualSuspects) would provide the score.

Corona Coming Attractions received a follow-up scoop on theElfman/Ottman story. An unnamed scooper claims to have e-mailedOttman and asked if he was still on board with the X-Men movie.According to the scooper Ottman said he is "absolutely" scoringX-Men. However, he also said that his directing duties on UrbanLegend 2: The Final Cut may create some interference.

Days after Cinescape unveiled the Magneto production photo, CoronaComing Attractions granted fans a look at two of the character designsfrom the movie. The site features two sketches, one of Magnetoand one of Cyclops, which are said to be costume designs for the movie.The helmet seen in the Magneto sketch is very similar to the one seenin the photo earlier in the week. The designs themselves arereminiscent of the comic book costumes, but with less garish colors.The site also reminds readers that the characters will reportedlysport several outfits throughout the course of the film, so the twoseen in the sketches may not be the only ones worn by Magneto and Cyclops.

Still later, Corona came through with follow ups to recent rumors regarding the X-Men movie.

For starters, the website posted comments from composer John Ottman.When asked if he was scoring X-Men Ottman replied, "Currently yes.There is always a chance that the schedule of the film I'm directingand the scoring schedule for X-Men may collide too closely. We'replaying it by ear and biting our fingernails!"

Scoopers for the website have also e-mailed reports of sighting ofthe X-Men teaser poster. According to all accounts, the poster willsport the X in a circle emblem as if stamped on a huge metallic door.A shaft of light is emanating from the center of the X, as if thedoor were opening. The film's release date of 7/14/2000 and thewebsite address (http://www.x-men-the-movie.com/) are the only textpresented on the artwork.

The site speculates that this may be the first of several teaserswhere the doors open wider and wider revealing the team within.

Finally, new speculation about the trailer is that we may see it during Superbowl next year.

BABY BLUES

Jerry Scott recently dropped Comics 2 Film a note to let us know about the status of the animated show based on the popular comic strip he co-created: Baby Blues. We had reported last September that an animated Christmas special would air this month on the WB network, followed by a series for next year. Although the series has been filmed, the Christmas special will not air this year as planned.

Scott explains, "The WB decided for various reasons to hold back the Christmas special until maybe next year, and plans to start the series sometime this spring. All thirteen episodes are finished, and we're waiting to hear an air date and time slot."

Scott assures us that information will be forthcoming on the official website.

BATMAN BEYOND: RETURN OF THE JOKER

Warner Home Video has launched a website promoting the feature-length, direct-to-video, animated Batman Beyond movie.According to the site, the movie is to be called Batman Beyond:Return of the Joker and will be available in Fall 2000.

Rob Allstetter of the Comics Continuum recently spoke with Batman Beyondproducer Paul Dini about the upcoming direct-to-video feature BatmanBeyond: Return of the Joker.PDini told the Continuum, "Mark Hamill is back playing several key roles,one of which is, of course, the Joker, who has miraculously turned upin the time of Batman Beyond. The other role is sort of a surprise,and that's all I'll say about it now."

Melissa Joan Hart (Sabrina, The Teenage Witch) also turns up in themovie, voicing twin hit-girls both of whom are named named Dee-Dee.

Dini also said that the story contains extensive flashback sequencesthat bridge the gap between Beyond and the previous Batman Animatedseries. Fans will learn what happened to Nightwing, Robin and Batgirl.The show will also expand on Terry McGinnis' character and motivationsfor staying in the high tech bat suit.

The movie is due out November 7, 2000.

CRAZY JANE

In his Dish column appearing in Daily Variety, Michael Flemingreveals that Warner Bros. has optioned a portion of DC's DoomPatrol. The Crazy Jane character from Grant Morrison's Vertigosuper team is set to be a feature film from producer AaronMeyerson. Meyerson developed the concept with Brian Nelson(20,000 Leagues Under the Sea) who will write the screenplay.

The concept is described as "Sybill in spandex: she has a multiplepersonality disorder, with each manifestation possessing adifferent superpower." The article states that the filmmakers willaim for a darker tone.

GHOST WORLD

A recent article in The Hollywood Reporter indicates that ScarlettJohansson (The Horse Whisperer) is in negotiations to star in themovie version of Daniel Clowes Ghost World. If signed, Johanssonwill appear opposite Thora Birch (American Beauty) as Enid andRebecca. Previous reports indicated that Leelee Sobieski (EyesWide Shut) had been in negotiations for Johansson's role. Themovie will be directed by Terry Zwigoff (Crumb).

ARCHIE

According to a recent article in The Hollywood Reporter,Universal Studios has put the long awaited Archie movie intoturnaround. Tommy O'Haver (Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss)had completed a first draft of the movie and was to direct.Ben Myron (The Mod Squad) is the producer on the project.The article claims that Universal is instead focusing itsenergies on an adaptation of Josie and the Pussycats.

FANTASTIC FOUR

In an article from the Calgary Sun and presented online by Canada'sJam! Showbiz website, director Chris Columbus (Bicentennial Man)talks about the prospect of directing the Fantastic Four movie, towhich he's long been attached.

"Bringing this one to the screen is a budgeting nightmare," Columbussaid. "One estimate was as high as $280 million US because every timethe four characters walk into a scene, it will cost upwards of$100,000."

The director also mentions that the performance of X-Men will greatly influence the chances of a Fantastic Four movie. Both films are set up at 20th Century Fox.

Thanks to Cinescape for the lead.

CROW 4

Corona Coming Attractions reports that a fourth installment ofJames O'Barr's Crow movie franchise may center around the deathof a gansta rapper, a la Tupac Shakur. Citing Paula Guran'sDarkEcho newsletter the fourth incarnation could be "a 'HipHop' Crow."

Reports dating back several years have indicated that O'Barrhimself may handle the screenwriting chores on the fourthinstallment. No word is given as to whether or not the abovestory concept comes from the concept's creator.

In the mean time, the third installment, The Crow: Salvation isdue out March of next year.

HARSH REALM

The VFXPro website reports that all eight episodes of the Harsh RealmTV series are set to air next March on the FX cable network. Theshow, based on James Hudnall and Andrew Paquette's comic of thesame name, was one of the early casualties of the 1999 fall TVseason. Fox TV yanked the new show after airing only three episodes.

The visual effects company Pixel Envy went on to complete effects workon all eight shows, in spite of the cancellation. No new episodeshave been ordered, but word is that FX is considering continuing the series.

IRON MAN

Terry Rossio and Ted Elliot have been identified as thescreenwriters charged with the task of bringing Marvel's IronMan to the big screen. The duo, who wrote last year's TheMask of Zorro among others, recently broke the news in an exclusiveinterview with Eon Magazine. The pair reportedly pitched theirtake on the character to both New Line and Marvel and weresubsequently hired.

"Obviously, everyone is interested in seeing what happens with X-Men,but the only real similarity between the two projects is: they arebased on Marvel Comics properties," Elliot told Eon. "I think NewLine feels pretty confident, based on their success with Blade,that they're capable of doing a good movie based on a superherocharacter -- even if other studios can't."

And what is their take on Iron Man? "It's funny, in many waysTony Stark is one of the most generic alter-egos in the MarvelComics universe," Elliott said. "It is the ways that Tony Starkis different from that model that best define the character.Specifically he is an engineering genius. Confronted with aproblem, he will work relentlessly until he solves it; whichmeans first understanding completely the nature of the problem,and then seeking the most efficient, effective and elegant solution."

Elliot went on to say, "Taking our cue from some of the otherelements intrinsic to Iron Man -- high-tech manufacturing, tiesto S.H.I.E.L.D. and the U.S. Government, international businessman-- and some of the stories from the books, we're going to throwTony into a very gray world, one which his money and his personalityhave isolated him from for the most part. It will be a Gordianknot of motives, actions and events which forces Tony to solvethe most fundamental question about himself: 'What kind of man am I?'"

The writing pair refused to speculate on casting. Rumors fromprevious years have indicated Nicolas Cage and Tom Cruise wereinterested in the character. However, the property has changedhands since those stories had circulated, and the question ofwho would don the armor is still up in the air. Likewise thepair have not decided on a villain for the piece yet. "As yet,we have not found a villain from the comic books who fits theneeds of the story," Elliott told Eon. "If we do, we'll usethat character-- no reason to re-invent the wheel, after all."

For more information about Elliot and Rossio, check out theirexcellent Wordplay website.

MODESTY BLAISE

Lawrence Bender spoke with the Calgary Sun recently about thelong planned Modesty Blaise movie. In the article, which canbe found on the Jam! Showbiz website, Bender talked about thedifficulty he and partner Quentin Tarantino have had gettingthe movie to the big screen.

"We just can't get a screenplay we like. When we do, it shouldbe no problem casting it. Actresses will come out of the woodworkto play Modesty," Bender told the Sun.

Thanks to Cinescape for the lead.

BATMAN 5

Gossip columnist Liz Smith is claiming that Dogma star BenAffleck is "a major contender" for the lead role in the nextBatman movie. No word is given as to Smith's source.

ELFQUEST

Rob Allstetter of the Comics Continuum recently spoke to Craig Millerabout the progress of the animated Elfquest feature. Miller is apartner at Wolfmill Entertainment, who is producing the movie. He isalso one of the screenwriters working on the film, along with Wolfmillpartner Marv Wolfman and Elfquest creator Wendi Pini.

Miller reports that they've turned in the second draft of the screenplay.The script is well-liked by all parties and will likely undergo a"dialog polish" before production starts.

Miller told The Continuum that storyboarding and voice casting shouldbegin in mid-January. No names were mentioned in relation to casting,but Miller did slip that they are talking to some major names.

According to the report, the movie is targeted for a 2001 release.

SILVER SURFER

A scooper for Corona Coming Attractions confirms talk that AndrewKevin Walker (Sleepy Hollow, 8mm) is developing a screenplay forthe filmed adaptation of Marvel's Silver Surfer. The writerapparently told audience members he was working on the scriptduring an October writer's network conference.

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