Pixar, Blue Sky Animators Team for 'Urban Legendz' Graphic Novel

The upcoming project centers on a teen who joins a group of wannabe supernatural vigilantes.
Michael Yates/Humanoids

When a teenager joins a group of wannabe supernatural vigilantes to distract himself from his mother’s death, the last thing he expected was the discovery that all of the old stories shared around the schoolyard might turn out to be true. That’s the premise of the upcoming graphic novel Urban Legendz, to be released next week. Heat Vision has an early peek at what’s to come.

The book is the debut graphic novel from a team with an impressive animated pedigree: Paul Downs, Nick Bruno and Michael Yates.

“At first glance, Urban Legendz appears to be a supernatural trip into nostalgia. But when you read between the lines, you’ll discover a timeless message about how having a few good friends, can help us all overcome the 'monsters' we’ll face in our lives,” says Bruno, an animator at Blue Sky Studios, whose directorial debut arrives later this year with December’s Spies in Disguise.

Co-author, Downs — a screenwriter and animator who has worked on Rio, the Ice Age franchise and Spies in Disguise — agrees, calling the book “a supernatural story with meaning,” and “a nostalgic adventure, centered around a diverse group of friends who are dealing with present-day social issues like family dynamics, homelessness [and] gentrification.”

He continues, “I grew up in a city, where our childhood adventures may have looked a little bit different than the classic Spielberg-ian suburbs, but were equally as magical. This was our opportunity to tell one of those stories. After all, why should the suburbs have all the fun?”

Illustrating the book is Pixar story artist Yates (Cars 3, Toy Story 4). “As a kid, I grew up on a steady diet of comics and animation. In middle school, I'd take some of my favorite animation worlds, like Akira and Dragonball Z and do my own comic spinoffs,” he recalls. “I’d take a stack of printer paper stapled together and lose hours drawing and telling stories. The biggest difference being my stories would include characters that looked like me. This has been a goal of mine since I've entered into the animation industry and now into comics. I just want that little black kid in rural Indiana to see himself in some of the stories he was lost in.”

Urban Legendz will be released by Humanoids on June 11. Before then, read on for an exclusive preview.