Dark Horse Comics Inks Universal Cable TV Deal, Preps 'Umbrella Academy’

The comic book powerhouse will produce scripted programming from their library as well as new material.
Dark Horse Comics

In a deal a year in the making, comic book powerhouse Dark Horse (The Mask, Hellboy) is getting into the television business with Universal Cable Productions.

The NBCUniversal-owned cable-focused studio has signed Dark Horse Entertainment to a multiple-year overall deal that will see the comics publisher produce scripted programming from their extensive library as well as develop new properties. Conversations for the deal began at Comic-Con 2014 when Dark Horse introduced UCP execs to their top writers and artists — which led to multiple television projects with direct involvement from the comics creators.

Among the projects in development under the pact are Gerard Way's beloved The Umbrella Academy, which was previously in development at film arm Universal as a feature; Harrow County, based on Cullen Bunn's (The Sixth Gun) new comic, which sold out its first printing; Eisner Award-winning Concrete, from Paul Chadwick; and Back Up, based on a feature script from Tom Vaughn. (Full details below.)  

UCP will work with Dark Horse and their comics creators to develop character-driven concepts for television that will build on their current fan base. The UCP deal will push Dark Horse president and founder Mike Richardson and senior vp production Keith Goldberg deeper into the TV business and come as the duo currently exec produces Syfy's Dark Matter.

"Dark Horse Entertainment has an incredible roster of fantastical, witty and mind-bending stories,” said Dawn Olmstead, exec vp development at UCP. “Their brand has conquered multiple media platforms and boasts iconic books that have attracted the highest level of writers. It’s going to be a wild and imaginative ride.”

Dark Horse joins a roster of genre players based at UCP including The Walking Dead's Gale Anne Hurd, Wes Craven (Scream) and Jason Blum’s Blumhouse Productions, among others.

Dark Horse's comics include Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Aliens, Tomb Raider, Halo, Game of Thrones and more. It is the largest independent comic book publisher in the U.S. and one of the world's leading entertainment publishers. A closer look at Dark Horse/UCP's development slate follows:

Harrow County 
Emmy has always known that the deep, dark woods surrounding her home crawled with ghosts, goblins, and the restless dead. On the eve of her 18th birthday, she learns that she is connected to these creatures and to the land itself in a way she never imagined, for she is the reincarnation of a powerful witch who was put to death on the very day Emmy was born. For this reason, the townsfolk mean to kill her too. In order to survive, Emmy must embrace the unusual powers at her command.  This project is based on the brand new book written by Cullen Bunn (The Sixth Gun) and illustrated by Tyler Crook (Bad Blood).  The comic quickly sold out of its first printing.
 
The Umbrella Academy
Nine years after parting ways, the estranged members of the Umbrella Academy, a dysfunctional family of superheroes with bizarre powers, must figure out how to work together to save the world. Created by Gerard Way (lead singer of My Chemical Romance, and writer of The True Lies of the Fabulous Killjoys) and Gabriel Ba (Daytripper); Bluegrass Films is also attached to executive produce.

Back Up
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. Jim Wedaa is also attached to executive produce.
 
Concrete 
After his subconscious is transplanted into a hulking stone body, Ronald Lithgow must come to terms with his new form and try to live a normal life. This Eisner award-winning title is the opus of comics legend Paul Chadwick.

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@THR.com
Twitter: @Snoodit
comments powered by Disqus