Fox has set the first piece in its Animation Domination HD block, which is slated to launch in the 11 PM-12:30 AM Saturday night time slot in the first quarter of 2013. Animation Domination HD, the new animation unit launched by Fox in January to generate programming for the new block and various digital platforms, has acquired the rights to the hit online comic Axe Cop. The division, headed by Nick Weidenfeld, has given an order of six quarter-hour episodes to an animated version of the comic, which has been put in development and is looking for a showrunner. Axe Cop is one of four six-episode quarter-hour animated series Weidenfeld plans to introduce in the block during its first year on the air, along with about 50 short-form shows of 1-3 minute each, which are expected to also have strong digital presence. Among the writers brought in-house to work on shorts are Arin Hanson and Marc Moceri, both of whom have popular YouTube animation channels. The goal is for the Animation Domination HD block to expand to half-hour series in the second year, Weidenfeld said.

The Axe Cop web comic was created by then five-year-old Malachai Nicolle, who did the writing, and his 29-year-old brother, Ethan, who drew it. It chronicles the adventures of an axe-wielding police officer and his loyal team of allies as they fight bad guys. The first five installments of Axe Cop were put online on January 25, 2010 and went viral in a matter of days. Weidenfeld, who worked for Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim before joining Fox, said he had pursued the rights to the comic for awhile. “Axe Cop is one of the most creative, hilarious and naturally viral comic properties to emerge in the last decade,” he said. “It has all the makings of an iconic animated series and it will help set the tone for Fox’s new late-prime Saturday animation lineup.” The deal was brokered by the Gotham Group, Surge Licensing and Nelson Davis Wetzstein LLP.