EXCLUSIVE: Christopher Lemole and Tim Zajaros, the founders of Armory Films and producers of Mudbound, are teaming with Knightfall co-creator Don Handfield on The Dark Age, a sci-fi tale that will published as comic book series by Red 5 Comics and then pursued as a television project.
The Dark Age will be the first series in a slate of comic book titles launched under the collaboration between Armory Films and Handfield’s production company, Motor Television. The slate will be penned by Handfield with additional writers to be announced.
Illustrator Leo Rodriguez and colorist Dijjo Limawill handle the artwork for The Dark Age series from Red 5, which also published The Rift, Handfield’s debut effort in the comics world, which was acquired by Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment to be adapted for an episode of the AppleTV+ revival of the Amazing Stories anthology series. Handfield also wrote The Mall, a series published by Scout Comics that was acquired last year by Ivan Reitman’s Montecito Pictures to develop as a television series.
The Dark Age is a near-future tale about the collapse of contemporary civilization in the wake of mysterious calamity that transmutes every piece of working or workable metal on earth (tools, vehicles, guns, circuits, girders, etc.) into crumbling piles of rusted dust. Staggered by the loss of technology, humanity plunges into chaos until a violent feudal system takes shape and the surviving pockets of civilization are dominated by knights who wield weapons of wood and plastic.
A description from the creative team: “The story begins with Ethen Riker, an archeology professor at Cornell, his pregnant wife, Helen and his daughter Jonnie, enjoying a quiet lunch at a campus cafe. When his stirring spoon, then the table, then the metal foundations of the building itself suddenly crumble, Ethen rushes his family outside to witness the world quite literally coming to end. We flash forward thirteen years post-metal as he struggles to protect his family in this new paleo-plastic world and unravel the dark mystery of why metal disappeared.”
Handfield said The Dark Age was a chance to chronicle a leafy post-civilization tale that veered from the now-familiar sci-fi scenarios that present a planet marred by toxic calamity, nuclear fallout, or alien invasion.
“The Dark Age was inspired by how dependent we as a society are on technology, computers and metal to survive and asking, ‘what if’ it all disappeared? I wanted to create a post-apocalyptic world that wasn’t a radioactive wasteland, but more of a lush “World After People” where, as a storyteller, I could explore how cultures would crumble and reform based on primitive technologies. All of this of course wrapped inside a strong drama about a family trying to survive.”
The Dark Age comic book series will launch with issue No. 1 in July, timed to Comic-Con International in San Diego. A preview of The Dark Age has already been selected for inclusion in the national giveaway efforts of this year’s Free Comic Book Day, which is May 4.
The comic book effort is a new frontier for Lemole and Zajaros of Armory, which has been raising its profile and last year celebrated its fifth anniversary. The Armory founders delivered the challenging but highly lauded 2017 feature Mudbound (starring Carey Mulligan and Garrett Hedlund, directed by Dee Rees). Acquired by Netflix, Mudbound went on to earn four Academy Award nominations, a milestone moment for the streaming subscription service.
“We could not be more excited for our first foray into the comic universe,” the producers said of The Dark Age. “We have been talking to Don for a while about doing something in the comic book space. We’re very much looking forward to collaborating with him on The Dark Age and help build this universe from pen to screen.”
Armory has Joe Penna’s Arctic, starring Mads Mikkelsen, currently in theatres, and just premiered The Peanut Butter Falcon (Shia LaBeouf, Jon Bernthal, Dakota Johnson and Bruce Dern) at SXSW in Austin this month. Armory also has Charlie Day’s directorial debut, El Tonto, now in post-production.
Handfield is repped by The Cartel and Dale De La Torre of Jacobson, Russell, Saltz, Nassim & De La Torre.