Already, 2017 is off to a strong start for fans of comic book properties. Just recently, the news hit that renowned comic book writer/artist, Rob Liefeld has inked a deal with Graham King and Mark Gao of Fundamental Films as well as screenwriter/producer Akiva Goldsman for the rights to develop his Extreme Universe into a multi-film franchise.
Liefeld may be known to many as the creator of the ultra-popular character, Deadpool for Marvel Comics, but he’s also a co-founder of Image Comics, under which he created the Extreme Universe banner. Created first with Image’s Extreme Studios and later Awesome Comics (which came about after Liefeld left Image), the Extreme Universe includes nine comic titles and almost 100 characters, among them Bloodstrike, Brigade, Lethal, Re‐Gex, Cybrid, Bloodwulf, Battlestone, Kaboom, and Nitro‐Gen.
King has said the deal: “Rob has an uncanny ability to create unique stories with unforgettable characters and Extreme Universe is no exception. These stories are fantastic and I couldn’t imagine better partners on this project then Mark [Gao] and his team at Fundamental Films.”
Having interviewed Rob before about the Deadpool movie, I was again able to speak with him about his Extreme Universe and what this deal means. Read on for our full interview!
It must be pretty cool for you as an artist to ink a deal of this magnitude to see your characters come to life. Plus, working with some heavy hitters in Hollywood.
It is absolutely a phenomenal opportunity. It took the better part of a year. Graham King and Akiva Goldsman, I’m a huge fan of them. It’s like , I have seen every movie they have ever made! Graham’s entire portfolio, I have seen it all, same with Akiva. It was very exciting.
How did this deal come together?
The origin is I met with Akiva, he had an interest in my comic book, Avengelyne. He was interested in the afterlife and angels and demons, so he asked to meet with me over Avengelyne and we hit it off. He then showed me this giant hardbound – equivalent to a phone book – that said “Transformers Universe.” It had screenplays and concept art. He said he ran The Transformers writing room for Paramount, and said next he was working on a writing room for Hasbro, and then said he wanted to do mine. I was like, okay! He wanted me to meet Graham King and they both said they had the financing component to hire writers for the writing room and start with two films. So yeah, it was really exciting and I am really happy to be a part of this and be able to talk about it now.
Will the deal have any effect on the comic world of the Extreme Universe?
We released a commemorative hardcover of Kaboom about three years ago. That sold great, people remember these books fondly and continue to collect them and pick them up. That is one of the components of the deal, I am having a lot of the original books remastered.
I have the original line art for Bloodstrike #1 that I laid out for a young and talented artist named Dan Fraga. I told him I would let him do his thing and I would give him the story-telling, ’cause I love the story-telling part of comics. To me, picking shots and laying out pages is the most important part of engaging the reader. I have held on to the 32 pages of original line art, so we are going to get cooking and re-color and bring in some state of the art new talent and reissue those. We are doing the same thing with Rejects #1. So we are going to have a nice new line of remastered comics, remastered is the best word for it.
With so much talk about superhero films lacking diversity, The Extreme Universe seems to have been ahead of its time by featuring a very diverse roster of awesome and dynamic characters.
In Brigade, we have Kao, a Japanese martial artist, a complete badass and weapons master; in Bloodstrike we have Shogun, who is a badass robot and Cybrid is Asian-American. We have a very broad and diverse cast in these books, I got to believe that helped seal the appeal.
I am very happy to hear that you will be a part of the writer’s room and in the trenches, so to speak, creating story lines for a Cinematic Extreme Universe.
I would not have done the deal otherwise. I am a producer and a part of it, we are going to get in there and beat it out in terms of stories and story lines. Comic book creators have a level of respect they did not have ten years ago, we have a voice now and it’s wonderful that it’s a voice that is being respected. These books are loved and we are going to do them justice.
If you could summarize a sentence about this deal what would it be?
It’s going to be an absolute blast and I’m so excited!
It was a pleasure speaking with Rob about this exciting deal and bringing a new comic book universe to the big screen. After speaking with him, I can only say I am very excited for what is going to come of this film deal. Rob loves the characters he has created and having the creator of the original world right there in the thick of it is an assurance to fans of the Extreme Universe that things will be done right. On opening day, I expect we’ll all be blown away by this new cinematic universe.