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Channing Tatum, Roy Lee Team to Adapt Sam Kieth Comic 'The Maxx' (Exclusive)

The cult comic inspired an MTV cartoon that won an Annie.
Channing Tatum (left), Roy Lee   |   Getty Images; Courtesy of Sam Kieth; Getty Images
The cult comic inspired an MTV cartoon that won an Annie.

The Maxx, the cult comic created by Sam Kieth, is getting the screen treatment from Channing Tatum and Roy Lee.

The two are teaming to produce via their respective production companies; Tatum will produce via Free Association, along with principals Reid Carolin and Peter Kiernan, while Lee will produce via his Vertigo Entertainment.

Kieth will also produce with partner Tal Vigderson.

The Maxx, created, written and illustrated by Kieth (yes, the “i” is before the “e”) was released in the early 1990s heyday of Image Comics, the disruptive comic company created by hotshot artists Jim Lee, Todd McFarlane and Rob Liefeld, among others.

The original series followed the adventures of The Maxx, who appears in both the real world and an alternate reality, the Outback. In the real world, he is a homeless man living in a box, but in the Outback, he is a powerful masked being who is the protector of the Jungle Queen. In the real world, the latter is a social worker named Julie Winters who frequently works to help the homeless man, unaware that the alternate reality exists and is exerting a dangerous influence on her life.

Kieth was the first artist on the DC comic The Sandman, which launched the career of Neil Gaiman and became one of the most acclaimed comic books of all time. He also worked on Wolverine stories for Marvel Comics Presents before going on to create The Maxx. The initial series ran for five years In 1995, attracting a hip audience thanks to the unique art and an envelope-pushing story that was at once trippy and grounded.

The comic inspired an audio drama and a 13-episode cartoon series on MTV, which cemented its cult status, going on to win an Annie Award for best animated series. Kieth, who continues to work on DC and Marvel projects, recently revisited the titular character with a special collaboration with DC for Batman/The Maxx: Arkham Dreams, a five-issue miniseries.

It is unclear if Free Association and Vertigo’s adaptation will be a series or feature. The producers are actively meeting with writers and filmmakers to find the right take for the material.

Michael Parets is overseeing the project for Free Association.

Free Association is coming off of wrapping production on Fatherhood, a Kevin Hart feature that adapts the best-seller Two Kisses for Maddie. Sony will release the movie next year. The company, which was behind the Magic Mike and 21 Jump Street franchises, is prepping to shoot Dog, a canine comedy that Tatum and Carolin will direct.

Vertigo is coming off of the back-to-back releases of Stephen King adaptations It: Chapter 2 and Doctor Sleep.

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