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Alien seeds and cybermutants seek spin-off success

Runaway box office profits for the X-Men and Spider-Man features could trigger an even greater groundswell of Hollywood interest in pulp properties in the coming years. As North American indie comic book players malign government agencies and big business in their...
July 1, 2000

Runaway box office profits for the X-Men and Spider-Man features could trigger an even greater groundswell of Hollywood interest in pulp properties in the coming years. As North American indie comic book players malign government agencies and big business in their titles, they are also assiduously courting talent agencies and big studios by launching new book series with broader family-skewing content and by dusting off existing series with modern kid appeal.

Taking an active approach to securing an animated series deal for its September-launching Wild Seed comic book property, Hempstead, New York-based Indo City Productions has already hired an agent to shop around a half-hour show proposal that targets the seven to 16 demo. Indo City president Ronald King says the TV concept, which features toned-down body types and less violence than the comic books, has received several nibbles from producers. Initially planned as a bi-monthly four-book miniseries, Wild Seed centers around five multiethnic high school students who come into contact with alien seeds from Mars while working as interns at a bio research lab and, as a side effect, develop superhuman powers. The teens go on the lam to evade the numerous government agencies seeking to exploit their powers for nefarious purposes, testing the parameters of their new abilities by trial and error along the way.

Settling into specialty comic book outlets across the U.S. this month following its official mid-June launch date, Scottsdale, Arizona-based Infinity Comics’ new miniseries Counter-Strike couples compelling kid hooks like cutting-edge surveillance technologies with parent-friendly core content elements like brother-and-sister teamwork to attract a wider readership-and hopefully the attention of TV and film studio execs as well.

The four-book saga tells the story of Robin and Matt Hunter, a pair of affluent Gen Y siblings whose lucrative family import/export company is lost in a hostile stock takeover. To make ends meet, the Hunter kids start an on-line spy store (which, incidentally, goes public to the tune of several hundred million dollars), all the while using the surveillance technology they sell to bring down the smarmy corporate raider who poached their parents’ business. Developing a taste for exposing corruption, the two embark on a life-long mission to protect the little guy from crooked big business and government institutions.

Surge Comic Properties, whose offshoot Surge Licensing handles licensing for The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, is hoping to sign a screen deal for its newest amphibian comic book character Cyberfrog so that its toy option with Playmates Toys will kick into gear. The star of a comic book series published by Harris Comics, Cyberfrog is actually an alien entity who takes on the form of a human-sized mutated frog after his spaceship lands in a pond in Central Park. Confused as to why he’s been sent to earth and embittered about his apparently repulsive exterior, Cyberfrog becomes an outcast vigilante who defends the weak from the forces of evil-oh, and he has a penchant for fried chicken too. Based in Long Island, New York, Surge is also planning to expand the Cyberfrog licensing plan beyond toys to include video games, books and apparel.

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