EXCLUSIVE: Hellboy creator Mike Mignola is partnering with Ben and Max Berkowitz of Not a Billionaire and Starburns Industries (Rick & Morty) to construct The Forever House, an eerie showcase described as a “high-concept anthology series inspired by international folklore.”
The live-action show will center on the title abode, a mysterious piece of un-real estate and a one-of-a-kind repository for otherworldly objects and international artifacts with dark histories. The logline: “Existing somewhere between reality and nightmares, The Forever House will encapsulate the feeling of an ancient tale told by the fire as we explore the disturbing and the macabre from the mind and sketchbook of Mike Mignola.”
Mignola is a superstar artist and IP creator in the comic book world thanks in large part to Hellboy, the hard-luck supernatural hero introduced in the pages of Dark Horse Comics in 1994. The pimento-colored Hellboy has been the title character of three theatrically released feature films, with the most recent among them arriving last year from Lionsgate.
The folklore aspect of the new project dovetails with a hallmark of Mignola’s Hellboy mythology, which is inhabited by bizarre characters borrowed from creepy legends and diabolical fairy tales from around the world. (One example: Baba Yaga, the Russian witch who snatches up children and travels inside a foul cauldron that sprints on spindly chicken legs.)
The show would build on the anthological traditions of such brands as The Twilight Zone, Night Gallery, and Tales From The Crypt but strike out in a new direction in its aesthetics. One reason, according to producers, is “to stand out from the wave of anthology programming,” a reference to The Twilight Zone revival, Black Mirror, American Horror Story, etc.
To that end, Industrial Light & Magic is on board to engineer the conceptual development for the series, which has the additional ambition of incorporating old-school Hollywood techniques (such as stop-motion animation, a range of stylized animation choices, etc.) to “re-capture the aura of classic Hollywood-style filmmaking through an updated modern lens,” according to producers.
The show will also differ from most anthologies by connecting some stories with familiar faces and story remnants that will bleed into the other tales. Archetypal characters will be played by the same actors across episodes, creating an interconnected universe.
Mignola — whose film work includes Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992), Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001), and Blade II (2002) — was inducted this month into the Harvey Awards Hall of Fame. The veteran creator said Forever House has taken shape so easily that it’s almost spooky.
“What started as a simple conversation with Ben over coffee is threatening to turn into a dream project,” Mignola said. “And Starburns — how often do you get to partner with guys who not only understand your ideas but have the vision and skills to take it far beyond anything you could have imagined and make it a reality?”
Ben and Max Berkowitz are co-founders of Not a Billionaire, a one-stop shop for video storytelling that’s managed by Octagon, the global sports and entertainment marketing arm of the Interpublic Group of Companies.
“Growing up as a devout comic book geek, my brother and I rabidly collected every edition of Mike’s work,” Ben Berkowitz said. “While the Forever House’s twisted, sensational universe is the start of something profound for comic book fandom, this show is, ultimately, about creating a surreal sense of wonder for the kid in me who first fell in love with the Mignola-verse.”
He added: “Fantastical as they are, myths are the ultimate real human story — immutable in their meaning, resonating with generation after generation, for millennia. Partnering with the visionaries of Starburns Industries to place a cutting-edge lens on timeless tales is our dream, and hopefully, someone’s nightmare.”
Starburns Industries, co-founded by Dan Harmon, Dino Stamatopoulos, Duke Johnson and James A. Fino, was behind the 2016 Oscar-nominated stop-motion film, Anomalisa (co-directed by Johnson and Charlie Kaufman) and responsible for the creation of Adult Swim series like Moral Orel, Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole and Rick and Morty.
James Fino, Partner Starburns Industry said: “We couldn’t be more excited to bring Mike Mignola’s wonderfully twisted imagination to life. His funny, strange, sad, and beautiful creations are the kind of things we dream about making a reality. The world he is crafting for this project is one we can’t wait to explore together.”