In advance of his appearance this weekend at Stan Lee Comikaze 2015, during which the Star Trek icon will be unveiling a new comic book collaboration with Stan the Man himself, William Shatner has revealed new details on his own projects to be released via Shatner Singularity, his recently-announced comics publishing imprint with LNL Partners.
Inspired by Shatner’s 1996 novel Man O’ War, made earlier this year in LNL’s Cinematic Graphic Novel format, the new project will be an adaptation of the entire Man O’ War series, to be released serially under the umbrella title William Shatner: Chronicles Of War. Set in the future when planetary colonization is in full swing, the series follows the course of a war for independence by the first generation of humans raised on the Red Planet. They’ve come to see themselves as Martians rather than Earthlings, and bristle at the Earthlings’ exploitation of their labor. The ideas, says Shatner, were inspired by the American Revolution.
Shatner also mentioned the plight of Syrian refugees as an inspiration for the series. “The older generation, people coming out of Syria for example, emigrating out of countries that are no longer home, carry with them literally and figuratively a lot of baggage,” he says. “It’s only the kids growing up that begin to have the courage that they actually belong in that country, and to express the essence of humanity which is ‘I want to be free to express myself’.”
Though the graphic novel series now officially begins with the adaptation of Man O’ War, William Shatner: Chronicles Of War will kick off properly with a brand new story bridging the gaps between the first and second novels, called Act Of War. It will be followed soon after by Law of War, an adaptation of Shatner’s 1998 novel of the same name. Each series will be released in a manner similar to a television series, and indeed, Shatner and LNL Partners’ Mariano Nicieza refer to the storylines as “seasons.” “Essentially Man O’ War was season one,” Nicieza told Deadline. “Now as of Sunday, we’ll be launching Act of War [as] an eight-issue story arc and soon after, we’ll be launching Law of War [as] another eight-issue story arc.”
That fits with the hybrid nature of the cinematic graphic novel format. Somewhere between so-called motion comics and traditional comics, the new format uses cinematic lighting, angles, sound effects and music along with traditional comic panels and word balloons. The intent is an experience that combines reading with watching, something Shatner says he already has in mind when writing his books. “If you read the book, they’re very much like seeing a movie,” he says, “which is how I like to read a book. Any of these novels could be a movie, and [in fact] they were designed to be movies, then became a comic, and now they’re somewhere in between.”
Shatner Singularity is built with digital platforms and multiple formats in mind. “Cinematic Graphic Novels is our twist on it,” says Nicieza but, he elaborated, the imprint will include traditional comics in digital format, with an eye on moving into hardcover print editions in late 2016. Currently, the imprint has a staff of about 14 people working on all facets of the production in an operation described as a combination of the assembly line model used in traditional comics, and the model used in animation. “We have lined up a terrific crew,” Nicieza told Deadline, “[and they have] completed season 1 and season 2, and are under way with season 3.”
Shatner Singularity has multiple other projects in the pipeline as well, among them plans to begin bringing independently owned projects into the fold in an arrangement Nicieza likens to Image Comics’ creator-owned model. These plans are contingent on the success of the imprint’s initial run of titles, but are envisioned to begin kicking off in late 2016 and moving into 2017. There are plans for further new titles produced in- house as well. Shatner’s Tekwar series of science fiction crime/detective novels, previously adapted for television in the 90s, was mentioned as a possibility during our discussion, but Shatner also revealed that he’s now working on two new projects, a book about the late Leonard Nimoy, and a science fiction concept about law enforcement dealing with jurisdictional issues in Earth Orbit he calls Zero-G Men. Both projects will be developed more fully beginning mid-2016.
Stan Lee Comikaze starts today at the Los Angeles Convention Center and lasts through Sunday. Shatner and Lee will be appearing together in a panel to discuss their new project in detail on Sunday.