American Gods producer FremantleMedia North America has acquired the rights to Astro City superhero comic book series to develop as a live-action TV drama series.

The Astro City comics, created by writer Kurt Busiek and artists Brent Anderson and Alex Ross, spans 16 (and counting) standalone yet loosely-connected story arcs containing more than 2,000 original characters. It is claimed to be the last, fully fleshed out superhero universe in the English language comic book business that has not been exploited for the screen. Astro City made its debut in 1995 with Image Comics and is currently published by DC Comics.

Despite the fact that the comic books’ current publisher, DC Comics, is owned by Warner Bros., Busiek owns all of the rights to Astro City, which he will now exploit in TV with FMNA.

The fictional Astro City universe explores the lives of ordinary people and those of the all-too-human superhumans in their midst, and their collective, daily struggle to hold on to hope in the face of world-shaking, life-altering events beyond any single individual’s control.

A mid-sized American city blessed with, and cursed by, the largest number of superheroes and supervillains in one place on Earth, Astro City is described as a unique brand of humanistic saga — part superhero epic, part intimate drama — in which the (mostly) good hearted, workaday residents of the eponymous locale come into daily contact with the worrisome, the weird and the wondrous.

Busiek and Rick Alexander will pen the pilot episode. Gregory Noveck serves as executive producer of the proposed TV series, along with Alexander and Busiek, for FremantleMedia North America.

“It’s a thrill to be working with Rick, Gregory and FremantleMedia on this,” said Busiek. “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.”

Busiek has won over two dozen comics industry awards, including the Eisner and Harvey Awards for Best Series, Best Single Issue, Best Writer, Best New Series and more. In addition to Astro City, Busiek’s titles include Arrowsmith, Shockrockets, Superstar: As Seen on TV, The Wizard’s Tale, Jonny Demon, The Liberty Project and Ransom. His most recent original comics series is The Autumnlands, with artist Benjamin Dewey.

Alexander is currently executive producer on EuropaCorp Television’s series version of Howard Chaykin’s ’80s sci-fi comic, American Flagg!, and is also developing UK comics creator Warren Ellis’ horror infused military actioner, Gravel, as a feature for Legendary Entertainment.

Noveck, through his Slow Learner banner, is developing George R.R. Martin’s Wild Cards at Universal Cable Productions and James Patterson’s Virgin at Sonar.

Busiek is repped by attorney Harris Miller. Alexander is repped by Jim Ehrich of the Rothman Brecher Ehrich Livingston agency, and attorney Tom Collier of Sloane Offer Weber and Dern. Noveck is repped by WME.