When I attended the San Diego Comic Con in 2008, I was amazed to see the impact comic book films like X-Men, Spider-Man and Iron Man had on the con and the world of comics. I ran across a lot of vendors who had essentially just published comic books in order to a movie deal. They weren’t trying to get readers, they were trying to get a studio’s attention. I think back to that because now with this news, they’ll probably think they don’t even have to publish a comic book at all to get that film contract.
The Hollywood Reporter’s Heat Vision blog is reporting that Rebel Wilson’s Camp Sugar production company has optioned the rights to the Image comic book series Crowded with an eye on her to star in it. Another comic book company, Oni Press, will be co-producing with Wilson through their production arm, Oni Entertainment.
Crowded, written by Christopher Sebela with art by Ro Stein and Ted Brandt, is set in the near future where crowdsourcing is much more popular than it is today and app culture has taken over. Charlie Ellison is a young woman living a rather non-descript life until she finds a multi-million dollar contract out on her life on the assassination app, Reapr. Looking to protect herself, she logs on the bodyguard app, Dfend, only to find the only bodyguard she can afford is Vita, the lowest rated guard on the app. Together, Charlie and Vita try to stay alive long enough to find out who wants Charlie dead.
If you read that description and want to head to your local comic shop to check out the comic, don’t bother. You won’t find it there. And it won’t be there next week either, or the week after that. The comic book is set to be released on August 15th.
So, how exactly did Rebel Wilson get a head start on a comic book that hasn’t even been published yet? Has she been scouring the industry catalog Previews for months looking for concepts that might fit her comedic style? Not likely. Both Wilson and Sebela are represented by the William Morris Endeavor agency, and it probably came down to some sort of communication between Wilson’s agent and Sebela’s agent, probably over lunch.
But many people who believe they have a sure-fire comic book concept that would work well as a film who don’t have this kind of connection will still believe that all they need is a concept to rake in the Hollywood dinero. I anticipate booths at many major comic cons being filled by people selling nothing but ideas.
To those people, I say this. This kind of deal is an outlier. Sebela probably had an early galley of his comic he could show around and a planned release date for his work. If all you have is an idea, then that puts you at the end of a line with thousands of people on it. Having your idea be a high concept comic book idea will not jump you to the head of the line.
Also, none of those people I mentioned in the first paragraph got a film deal as far as I can tell. So even publishing one issue of your high concept might not be enough. So, save some money and pass on that convention booth. Leave it for the edged weapon retailers and the steampunk seamstresses.