THE STORY: "King City" by Brandon Graham (W/A) - Image Comics/Tokyopop
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: A 20-something, lock-picking adventurer named Joe returns to his home city of the future with unclear intentions and a kind-hearted friend named Pete who gets in over his head while agreeing to help some Mafiosos take care of a life-size sea-monkey girl they've been raising for illicit purposes.
Joe gets dragged back into the rough rackets of King City, all the while on a seeming collision course to rendezvous with his ex-girlfriend.
WHY IT WORKS: Graham's character Joe has all the stubbornness and energy of a Scott Pilgrim of the future, and the world he lives in is almost over-saturated with creatures and visual elements that give it a distinctive "Blade Runner"meets-"Animaniacs" vibe.
The real triumph of the series is how well Graham keeps his characters' personalities grounded in a completely haywire world that recalls the city of "Transmetropolitan" with a focus on silliness instead of political absurdity, but keeps real-world elements of crime, sex and young love intact.
WHY IT DOESN'T: The sasquatches and dinosaurs of "King City" work really well as cartoons, but translating them into live-action or computer-generated effects could be risky. Graham's pages are crammed with nuances and morsels of extra story detail from panel to panel, but fitting everything in to a film in a meaningful way would be nearly impossible.
HOW TO DO IT: Treat the project like "The Fifth Element" meets Kevin Smith's "Clerks" and a "King City" movie would generally be headed in the right direction. The story needs a young actor who can play a determined, cool-but-scruffy outsider, and someone like Jamie Campbell Bower of "New Moon" and "Sweeney Todd" might fit in well.
As for his sidekick Pete, who wears a goofy mask most of the time, someone a bit more geeky but who can pull off heroic moments like Clark Duke could be a great match, and "Men in Black" director Barry Sonnenfeld would be a fine choice to talk to about directing.
FINAL WORD: Humorous future-based sci-fi might be a challenge for theaters, but "King City" has a human heart underneath its action adolescent humor. The tone might actually be unique pick for Hollywood, though, and it would look like nothing else that's been out recently.
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