'Walking Dead' Creator Sets First Amazon Series: Animated Comic Book Drama 'Invincible'

The comic book drama, also set up as a feature film at Universal, has been picked up straight-to-series as an animated drama under his new pact with the retailer/streamer.
Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic; Courtesy of Image Comics

Nearly a year after moving his overall deal from AMC to Amazon Studios, The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman has lined up his first new series under the pact and it's a familiar one.

Amazon Studios has handed out a straight-to-series order for an hourlong animated take on Invincible, based on Kirkman's recently concluded comic book of the same name.

Like the comic, the eight-episode "adult animated" Amazon series, from Kirkman and Cory Walker, revolves around Mark Grayson, a normal teenager except for the fact that his father is the most powerful superhero on the planet. Shortly after his 17th birthday, Mark begins to develop powers of his own and enters into his father’s tutelage. The series is suspenseful, action-filled and emotion-packed, yet builds upon poignant and heartwarming moments of love, friendship and humanity. 

The series is produced by Kirkman's Skybound, with Simon Racioppa (Teen Titans) set as showrunner. Kirkman, Racioppa, David Alpert (The Walking Dead) and Catherine Winder (Star Wars: The Clone Wars) are attached to executive produce. Justin and Chris Copeland (Ultimate Spider-Man) will serve as supervising directors.

First launched in 2003, the comic published by Kirkman's Image Comics imprint Skybound Entertainment wrapped its run in February after 144 issues. Kirkman and Walker created the title, with Ryan Ottley boarding with the eighth issue as its central artist.

Invincible, which ranked among The Hollywood Reporter's 100 greatest superhero comics, was developed in April 2017 as a feature film, which sources say is still active. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are set to write, direct and produce the adaptation of the comic, with Kirkman on board via Skybound's first-look deal with Universal Pictures. Skybound topper Alpert and co-presidents of film and TV Bryan Furst and Sean Furst are attached to the feature and will return for the Amazon series.

“Robert has an uncanny talent to predict the zeitgeist, and we are incredibly excited to see him break boundaries in an animated one-hour format,” said Sharon Yguado, head of scripted genre programming at Amazon Studios. “In a world saturated with superhero fare, we trust Robert to subvert expectations while encapsulating a story filled with heart and adrenaline. We love his ambitious plan for the show and believe it will look like nothing else on television.”

Invincible was Kirkman's second-longest running comic behind juggernaut The Walking Dead. The AMC adaptation ranks as one of the most-watched scripted shows on all of television.

Invincible is Kirkman's first series under his overall deal with Amazon Studios. The pact reunited him with genre topper Yguado, who helped turn The Walking Dead series into a global phenomenon when the series launched day-and-date across the globe.  

The Invincible order gives Kirkman his fourth scripted series on the air, joining AMC's The Walking Dead and spinoff Fear the Walking Dead as well as Cinemax's exorcism drama Outcast. All of them are based on Kirkman's Skybound comics.

“I couldn't be more proud of the series Cory Walker, Ryan Ottley and I did together for over 15 years. To know our characters will live on in multiple iterations in other media is almost too exciting to bear! What Amazon is allowing us to do in animated form is nothing short of ground-breaking, and I can't wait for our rabid fan base to experience it!” Kirkman said.

For its part, Amazon checks off three boxes with Invincible in that the series is a genre play, animated and a YA-themed entry. Genre and YA are both top priorities for new Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke. The series comes as animation continues to be a top priority for streamers. 

In her first interview since taking over the retailer/streamer from the embattled Roy Price, Salke revealed YA programming was among her top priorities. To that end, she appointed former drama head Nick Hall to oversee YA programming, while Yguado exclusively oversees genre (a favorite for Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos). Invincible gives Amazon Studios its own comic book franchise as the space continues to remain popular on broadcast, cable and streaming. Netflix has a suite of Marvel dramas; The CW's schedule is littered with DC Comics fare; FX has X-Men take Legion and Y: The Last Man in the works; Hulu has The Runaways; ABC has Agents of SHIELD; Fox has Gotham and The Gifted; Epix has Batman prequel Pennyworth; and HBO has Watchmen in the works.

A premiere date for Invincible has not yet been determined.