The series is created and owned by Kurt Busiek, and is currently published through DC Comics’ Vertigo line.
Busiek says that he will be writing the pilot episode with Rick Alexander, the executive producer of the television adaptation of Howard Chaykin’s American Flagg!
“It’s a thrill to be working with Rick, Gregory and FremantleMedia on this,” Busiek said. Everyone, at every turn, is supportive, helpful and completely focused on capturing the feel of Astro City and bringing it to life as a TV show.”
The comic book began production in 1995 and has been published on and off since then; it is currently “on” again, having reached about issue 50 of its main series. Set in the city with the highest superhuman population in the world, Astro City includes a vast cast of different characters, many inspired by those of the Marvel or DC Universes, but with interesting twists on their origins and motivations.
The series was first getting started back during “the Dark Age of Comics,” when the industry was running largely on deconstructions and “edgier” takes on superheroes—the kinds who killed their villains, lived messed-up lives, etc. In contrast, Astro City was something of a reconstruction—focusing on what made heroes admirable and beloved by so many, while still acknowledging the weirdness or difficulties that they would bring in a realistic scenario.
Indeed, this is perhaps what stands out the most about Astro City, and makes it unconventional—its focus on characterization and ideas. If the series makes it to air, do not expect a lot of thrilling fight scenes—they are quite rare in the comic. Some issues focus entirely on civilians and how they deal with the after-effects of superheroics.
For example, its first issue, “In Dreams” (which won the 1996 Harvey Award for Best Single Issue or Story) simply follows the average day of the Samaritan, Astro City’s equivalent to Superman; fights with villains are alluded to, but the main focus is on his exhaustion with his busy schedule, zipping across the world in seconds and never getting the chance to fly for the mere enjoyment of it.
FremantleMedia North also creates American Gods, based on a novel by Neil Gaiman, for Starz.