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Comedy Death-Ray: the comic book

Variety July 26, 2009
Original taps 'Ray' comics
by Mark Graser

Comedians set to contribute to the anthology

American Original has assembled a lineup of established comics to produce the graphic novel series "Comedy Death Ray."

Bob Odenkirk, Sarah Silverman, Patton Oswalt, B.J. Novak, David Cross, Janeane Garofalo, Paul Scheer and Zach Galifianakis are among some of the first to contribute to the anthology, for which each comedian will create a comicbook.

The goal is to see individual books in the "Comedy Death Ray" series, shepherded by Scott Aukerman, generate spinoffs for TV or film that would be produced by American Original.

American Original has a publishing deal with Top Cow.

The comedy project is one on a diverse slate set up by Jeff Katz, a former New Line and Fox exec who helped develop pics like "Freddy vs. Jason" and "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" and went on to form the new shingle to produce genre fare for multiple platforms.

The company's branding arm recently signed TNA Wrestling, a rival to World Wrestling Entertainment, and in addition to trying to build TNA into a bigger biz, one of Katz's first projects will be to adapt the sports docu "Bigger, Stronger, Faster," into a scripted feature.

Project, to be penned by the docu's helmer Chris Bell, with Jason Dolan ("Sydney Hall"), will be a "Traffic"-like exploration of performance-enhancing drugs. Katz will produce with docu producers Alex Buono and Tamsin Rawady serving as exec producers.

Signing TNA "marks my return to the business after a decade and I'm looking to make an impact by trying to grow TNA as an alternative to WWE," Katz said.

Separately, "Book of Eli" scribe Gary Whitta is adapting Brian Lynch's prison-based comicbook "Daybreak," based on an idea co-developed by producer Bryan Brucks.

American Original has also inked a four-pic pact with Titmouse Animation, behind the "Afro Samurai," new "G.I. Joe" and "Metalocalypse" animated series.

A sci-fi anthology entitled "The Galaxy Project" is also in the works. It will feature creature designs by "Alien vs. Predator" monstermakers Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff.

And American Original will soon begin producing digital comics through a relationship with Longbox, on whose board Katz sits.