EXCLUSIVE: Ethan Murphy’s independent publishing company Echelon Graphic Novels has signed a development deal with Scott Mitchell Rosenberg’s Platinum Studios, the comic book-based entertainment company that produced the adaptation of Cowboys & Aliens which was directed by Jon Favreau and starred Daniel Craig.
Under the multi-year agreement, Platinum will develop Echelon’s diverse and inclusive properties into entertainment franchises for theatrical release, TV/streaming and merchandising. Platinum CEO Rosenberg will serve as producer while VP of development Kendall Rosenberg and development executive John Lechago will step into the roles of co-producers.
Murphy founded the indie publishing company Echelon with the intention of creating an outlet for more diverse stories. With the comics and graphic novels space becoming more and more inclusive and Platinum’s access to its huge library of characters, the partnership could make some magic.
Echelon has expanded its team with new co-owner and full-time colorist Veronica Smith, editor Susan L. Holland, professional illustrators Zach Snyder, Eder Messias and Adam Fields, cover artists Carlos Eduardo and Luigi Teruel, and graphic designer and letterer Alex Scherkenbach.
Of the comics on Echelon’s slate its flagship title, Slate & Ashe has the potential be one of the first projects from this deal. The comic follows an unlikely partnership between a young, Black policeman and a zombie in a dystopian future. Slate & Ashe debuted in 2013 and has become a favorite among fans and the “Con” scene.
“I fell in love with Slate & Ashe, then immediately read Ethan’s other comics and was impressed with his storytelling abilities,” said Rosenberg. “I can see the potential for all of these stories to appeal to our audiences.”
“Echelon is proud to be part of a new generation of storytellers, particularly as comics and graphic novels have become a bigger part of popular culture,” added Murphy. “That means not just creating our own stories but supporting our peers and the creators coming up. Of course, our ultimate goal is to deliver a story experience like none other regardless of the medium. We’ve tackled print and airwaves. We can’t wait to see how our worlds look on the big screen.”
The Echelon-Platinum partnership comes at a time when the space for comic book movies and TV series is continuing to grow beyond the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the DC Extended Universe. Also throwing their hat into the comic book film/TV franchise ring is Dan Mintz’s Valiant Entertainment which is looking to build their own cinematic universe.
Since 2016, Echelon has self-published three more titles and they have another debuting next fall. The titles include:
- Screenboy – In 2246, a boy jumps through portals to battle supervillains throughout iconic works of fiction.
- Blackmoore – Labeled “mad” by her peers, scientist Dr. Viktoria Blackmoore’s experiments accidentally wreak havoc in 19th century London while she attempts to innovate the world.
- Divine Influence – A jaded angel finds the reincarnation of God in a toddler and must decide whether or not He’s worth raising.
- IpSwych (due Fall 2021) – A fantasy world of supernatural creatures is threatened by the delusions of a young prince with severe PTSD.
In addition to producing Cowboys & Aliens, Rosenberg’s Platinum Studios produced projects alongside Universal Pictures, DreamWorks and Paramount Pictures. Rosenberg previously owned Malibu Comics, which was later sold to Marvel/Disney. Through Malibu, he brought the Men in Black franchise to Sony.
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