Whether you realize it or not, Man of Action Studios is starting to take over entertainment. You may recognize them as the guys behind the Cartoon Network franchise “Ben 10” or even the Marvel animated series “Ultimate Spider-Man” and “Avengers Assemble.”
However, the group, consisting of Steven T. Seagle, Joe Kelly, Duncan Rouleau and Joe Casey, are also firmly entrenched in the comic book world and are starting to make waves in film as well.
Zap2it had the chance to talk to the men of Man of Action about their current projects, including a movie directed by Slipknot’s Shawn Crahan, and what to look forward to.
“Officer Downe” is the movie Crahan (the Clown in the masked band) will be directing from a script adapted written by Casey, who also penned the graphic novel it’s adapted from. “If you know anything about Slipknot and you know anything about the Clown, it’s pretty easy to connect those dots with the ‘Officer Downe’ book,” he says, adding, “He’s committed to doing it without compromise.”
That leaves Casey with the ability to push the envelope. Where the graphic novel didn’t have room for deep character development and background, the script is able to make that change. He says, “The graphic novel was almost like a sketch of a concept and a character … In the movie I had to actually come up with a story and deeper characters and more relationships.”
Should the movie prove a success, expect more “Officer Downe” headed to a theater near you. “Every time someone options something, they want it to be a big a*** franchise to make billions and trillions of dollars,” Casey explains, “The Clown is no different, he’s got his eye on the prize.”
As for graphic novels, they’ve got a bunch in the mix at the moment. Seagle has “Genius,” which is illustrated by Teddy Kristiansen. The story follows a physicist who finds out about a lost Albert Einstein theory and has to decide whether to reveal it to the world and the consequences that would follow. Seagle says the idea is somewhat based on his wife’s late grandfather, a one-time employee of the Atomic Energy Commission. “He knew one of the really great secrets of the 20th century,” Seagle says, “I tried to pry out of him the answer to this secret and he just would not tell me anything.”
Seagle is also working with Kristiansen on another graphic novel, tentatively titled “Mercury,” and another comic called “Imperial,” which he describes as a superhero buddy book. “It’s about a guy named Mark who’s set to be the next grand superhero of the earth, but he’s also getting married in five days.”
Kelly, Rouleau and Casey each have plans return to their existing comic books before the year is out. Kelly will release the next two issues of “Bad Dog” starting in November, which he says will complete the current story arc. Likewise, Casey will release the finale of “Godland” in November as well, with Rouleau finishing up “The Great Unknown” by the end of the year. He also has a feature film version of “The Great Unknown” in development.
As far as cartoons go, “Ben 10” is still a big focus of their work. Eight years in and the show is stronger than ever, due in part to it’s international reach. “It’s bigger globally than it is in the U.S. by far,” Seagle says, “I went to a Toys R Us in Denmark and there were ‘Ben 10’ products in 10 of the 20 aisles of the store.”
Between that and the Marvel universe, it’s still not enough. Always more content building their own worlds, they’re also working on a show called “Seven Seas,” which is currently in production, and an Adult Swim-style cartoon called “The HMS Cucaracha.” If you can believe it, that one’s about cockroaches trying to overthrow the world in a battleship shaped like a human. Really.
Of course, those are only the projects they are talking about at this point. Not wanting to jump the gun on announcing things before they get too far along, Seagle says, “We have three features and two TV shows that are, as they say, in development.”
If anything, it’s clear Man of Action Studios is sticking around for quite a while.