Movies made from popular comic books are a winning device in Hollywood. This summer alone both Iron Man and The Dark Knight have been huge critical and box office successes. That truth in Hollywood has a corollary that goes: in movie-town nobody reads, meaning screenplays.
“Producers don’t even want to read comics anymore,” says writer/director Steve Kahn. He should know. His mentor is Stephen Stern, author of War of the Worlds and Beowulf graphic novels, which were released alongside the Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis films of the same names.
Kahn saw firsthand the brick wall they were up against while the two were busy adapting his feature screenplay into graphic novel format. But, that’s when he got his “blinding flash of light” as he calls it (comic book guys aren’t known for their subtly). “We’ll make the comic book pages come to life!”
Two of Stern’s comic book pages adapted from Kahn’s feature screenplay Ninja Zombies evolved into a full multimedia pitch presentation. “We didn’t have to publish an entire graphic novel,” says a beaming Kahn, explaining they got the entire flavor of his story with live action footage that morphs into comic strip then music video. The comic strip characters, drawn by Bill Maus, serve as “colorful iconic elements that grab your attention quickly and in a way that video or a script never could.”
So is it working? “It’s all about telling your story quickly and easily,” says Kahn. “With a comic strip, live action footage and music video we found our knockout Karate chop!”
Ninja Zombies is a feature film and graphic novel in the vein of Shaun of the Dead and is currently being courted by several production companies.
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