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Man of Action Studios, producer of the Cartoon Network hit Ben 10 and Marvel/Disney XD’s upcoming Ultimate Spider-Man, is expanding its reach with three new projects in the film, television and digital space.
Man of Action, composed of friends Duncan Rouleau, Joe Casey, Joe Kelly and Steven T. Seagle, was founded in 2000 in an effort to push the graphic novelists beyond their comic book backgrounds, which includes such titles as I Kill Giants, Superman, X-Men, Wildcats and American Virgin.
Beyond the animated efforts, Rouleau’s Image Comics title The Great Unknown, about a slacker’s attempt to find the people responsible for raiding his thoughts, is being developed as a feature film with Mark Gordon Co. (Grey’s Anatomy).
“It’s a quirky book, a ‘low-fi sci-fi,” Rouleau tells The Hollywood Reporter. “The ‘superhero franchise’ is amply addressed by the likes of Marvel and DC so other types of stories originating in comics are finding their place in the market as well and The Great Unknown was one of them.”
In addition, Seagle’s original graphic novel Kafka — centering on a government-enhanced agent on the run — is being developed for television with the Kenneth Branagh Co.
“Kafka is a thriller, an espionage piece, a romance and a noir, and each of those aspects is being dovetailed into a paranoid world of government agents gone rogue,” Seagle tells THR. “The story deals with themes of loss and redemption and does a very cool trick with what I call superpowers even though it is in no way a spandex show.”
Lastly, MTV’s cross-media group MTVX has put into production Disco Destroyer, an original series of animated shorts created for its relaunched Liquid Television brand.
Casey, producer Scott Mosier (Zack and Miri Make a Porno) and artist Jim Mahfood will create the shorts, which will debut on MTV.com, LiquidTelevision.com and potentially across MTV’s various on-air networks.
“Disco Destroyer combines ’70s muscle-car culture with the battle for humanity’s salvation,” Casey tells THR. “The ironic thing is that Ben 10 is the show that was a real departure from what I do. Sometimes it’s tough being a rated-R guy in a rated-G media space, but Disco Destroyer gives me that chance to indulge in subject matter that’s a little closer to my own twisted sensibilities.”
With Ben 10 a global franchise spawning three spinoff series, a feature film and toys with merchandising topping $3 billion in sales, Man of Action’s next project is the animated Ultimate Spider-Man, which bows April 1 as part of the Marvel Universe block on Disney XD. “Since we’ve all worked in comic books for most of our careers, this show will feel more like the comics than any previous animated Spider-Man series has,” Casey says.
The guys joke that Man of Action runs like a well-oiled machine, with four men often doing the work of 10. “We’re a rock ‘n’ roll band who records together while simultaneously recording multiple solo albums,” Casey notes.
Check out an exclusive clip from Disney XD’s Ultimate Spider-Man, below.
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