Kavalier to ‘Come Back Together’

The producer behind the film adaptation of Kavalier & Clay has told Michael Chabon that the movie “will all come back together again,” the author said Tuesday.

During an online chat hosted by The Washington Post, Chabon said the producers had green lighted the movie last summer, with Tobey Maguire and Natalie Portman set to star and Stephen Daldry set to direct.

“The production designer had taken his kids out of school in LA and was ready to move to London where the principal interiors were going to be shot,” Chabon said. “And then last fall it all fell apart. I’m not entirely sure why; I’m not privy to the inside information, but my sense is that the studio (Paramount) underwent one of those financial panics that studios are regularly prey to, and many plugs were pulled–including K&C’s.”

“Oh, well, that’s showbiz,” he added.

Nevertheless, Chabon said producer Scott Rudin “assures me that there is no reason to despair and that it will all come back together again.”

“I have no reason at all not to believe him,” he said.

During the chat, Chabon also hinted at what his next project might be.

“I would like to get a new novel going,” he said. “I would like it to be set in the present day and feel right now the urge to do something more mainstream than my recent work has been.”

He also said no new graphic novels starring the Escapist were lined up.

Will the Escapist Return?

Can the Escapist escape the end?

That’s the question following the final issue of The Escapists, published earlier this month. Dark Horse still has the rights to publish a new book, and while nothing has been announced, editor Diana Schutz says plans are afoot.

“Our commitment remains firm to the character,” she said via e-mail.

Just last week, Dark Horse founder Mike Richardson talked to Schutz about creating a new Escapist-related series, “though I can’t give you any details at this point and probably not for some time,” she said.

“Don’t forget that Mike went out of his way to get the rights to publish comics based on Michael Chabon’s Pulitzer-winning novel; he is still totally passionate about Michael’s novel and about our comics,” Schutz said. “As am I. It’s the market whose support we need!”

At the stands, Escapist series have stuggled. The final issue of Michael Chabon Presents: The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist, which hit stands in November 2005, sold only 4,594 copies, according to ICv2 data. Schutz said they “learned the hard way that a nine-dollar eighty-page anthology was perhaps not the right direction to take.”

Retooled and repriced at $2.99, The Escapists faired better; issue #5 sold 12,190 copies, ICv2 says. Still, that issue ranked only 172 out of 300 comics in November.

At the very least, fans should expect to finally see the so-called “missing” Escapist stories, according to Schutz. When Dark Horse abruptly pulled the plug on the anthology in January, issue #9 was all but done and scheduled to hit shelves that week. Howard Chaykin and artist Jed Dougherty had finished a story about a battle between several decades’ incarnations of Luna Moth, and Stuart Moore and Phil Winslade completed a 1970’s tale featuring the Escapist and Hunter S. Thompson. Neither have seen print.

“We certainly have plans to print all of the ‘missing’ Escapist stories!” Schutz said. “There were several in production at the time the anthology was pulled, and I have both personal and professional reasons for wanting those to see the light of day — as do the several writers and artists who worked on them.”

Schutz said she’s not sure what form the stories will be in when they get published.

“It’s possible we’ll collect the whole darn shootin’ match into one big brick of a book, though my preference would be to find a way to thematically link certain groups of stories together and release them as miniseries first, along the lines of the Hellboy: Weird Tales anthology, for instance,” she said.

But don’t expect a return of characters Max Rothwell and Case Weaver from The Escapists. As early as September, write Brian K. Vaughan indicated at his Web site’s forum that the series, if it continued, would be without him.

“I love the book, but my finale is pretty final,” he said.

Artist Steve Rolston likewise said he hadn’t “heard of any further Escapist comics being planned,” though adding he suspected Dark Horse would work to publish the “missing” stories.

Exactly how long Dark Horse can publish comics spun from The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay is unclear. Schutz declined to say how long Dark Horse was allowed to publish Escapist comics, saying the contract was confidential.

“Let’s just say that I think Michael Chabon would like us to get those stories into print, too,” she said. “He’s been very happy with what we’ve done so far — both in terms of the original anthology as well as the Vaughan/[Jason] Alexander/Rolston Escapists six-issue series.”

Asked in mid-December, Chabon said he hadn’t heard anything from Dark Horse about a new series. Chabon said he was “sorry” to see The Escapists end, calling it “so great.”

“I really wish it would continue just so that I could keep reading,” he said.

Escapists #2 On Sale

The Escapists #2 hit stores today, featuring the second part in the tale of Max Roth and Case Weaver!

“This is the issue where Jason Shawn Alexander and I jump on board as artists, masterfully coloured by Matt Hollingsworth and Dave Stewart,” artist Steve Rolston e-mailed fans this morning. “Esteemed writer Brian K. Vaughan has really woven a beautiful story here that’s clever & original on its own but also faithful to the vibe of a great novel.”

Vaughan had his own thoughts. “If you can find a new book with a better team than that, you… I don’t know, live in some kind of alternate reality,” Vaughan posted on his Web site’s forum. “I LOVE this issue, so I hope you guys give it a read.”

The story had been set to appear in Michael Chabon Presents: The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist #9 before Dark Horse Comics canceled the series in January.

In issue #2, Roth and Weaver complete their first issue of the new Escapist comic. The solicitation notes that “their promotional plans include a risky publicity stunt that puts Denny in an old Escapist costume… and in harm’s way!”

And if perhaps that’s not enough for you, take a look at the preview for issue #4, due in stores October 11.

Pitch for Lost Escapist Story Online

When Dark Horse Comics canceled The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist in January, several stories in the works disappeared with it.

Gone went a story by Howard Chaykin and Jed Dougherty about a battle between several Luna Moths. Gone went Stuart Moore and Phil Winslade’s 1970’s tale of the Escapist and Hunter S. Thompson. And gone went David Hahn’s story too.

Hahn, the artist behind Marvel Comic’s new series The Masked Marvel, had been in the midst of pitching a World War II story featuring the Escapist when he got the bad news.

“Yeah, this story was in the process of being developed when the series was canceled,” he said in a recent e-mail. “I submitted the pitch and gotten notes from Chabon on how to tweak the story, then later leaned the series was nixed.”

But just because the story is dead doesn’t mean the art is. Hahn, being the cool guy that he is, provided this site with the cover for his story, along with an unpublished pin-up of the Escapist and Luna Moth.

Kavalier Movie in Pre-Production

The film adaptation of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay recently moved into pre-production, Michael Chabon said Wednesday.

In a posting on his Web site, Chabon said Paramount Picture’s adaptation, produced by Scott Rudin and directed by Stephen Daldry, has begun design work.

“Though the production has by no means been greenlighted, prospects for this long-running, oft-moribund project are suddenly looking better than they ever have before,” Chabon said.

Production designer Patrizia von Brandenstein and costume designer Ann Roth have begun work, Chabon said. The film’s comic book elements, “of which there are many,” is being overseen by Paul Pope.

Casting has also begun, Chabon said, though not roles have been cast yet.

In other news, Chabon confirmed that Dark Horse Comic’s The Escapists, the six-issue limited series spinning-off from the now-canceled Michae Chabon Presents: The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist, will debut this summer.

Writing for Disney’s Snow and the Seven is “ongoing,” Chabon said. And Chabon said The Yiddish Policemen’s Union will hit book stores in January.

“Really. No, really.”