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WIRE Buzz: Universal launches comics imprint; Henry Golding for The Tiger’s Apprentice; & Scott Pilgrim

By Benjamin Bullard & Nivea Serrao
The Umbrella Academy

Universal is getting into graphic novels. Universal Content Productions, a TV production arm of NBCUniversal’s Content Studios division, is entering the world of comic books through a newly-created label called UCP Graphic.

The new label takes aim at “up-and-coming talent,” with a focus on original comic book stories that find their way to store shelves both online and physical through agreements with existing publishers, according to a UCP press release. The first announced title, Proctor Valley Road, will follow that exact path, as a creation of Alex Child and prolific comics writer Grant Morrison (who’s also the co-creator of SYFY’s dearly departed comedy romp Happy!)

Set in coastal California, Proctor Valley Road’s five-issue run will be written by Morrison and published by Boom! Studios. Here’s the logline, via UCP:

“In the early summer of 1970, four teen girls living in the coastal town of Chula Vista, CA find themselves without their fathers for the first time in their lives, the men having been pulled away by the war in Vietnam. The girls decide to charge tourists and locals for nightly tours of the infamously haunted California highway known as Proctor Valley Road. But when four high school boys go missing on a tour, the girls become the prime suspects, forcing them to find out what happened in order to prove their innocence.”

The long-term goal of launching UCP Graphic, reports Variety, is to tap emerging talent to develop new story IPs that can gain a comic-book foothold for future crossover into UCP’s other media platforms. The first step came last month when the brand launched UCP Audio, a podcast platform that similarly offers creative opportunities to up-and-coming artists.

The focus on comics merges with UCP’s track record on the small screen, with the TV label already having produced Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy (based on the Dark Horse comics series from Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá), as well as its production, in association with Amblin TV and Dark Horse Entertainment, of SYFY’s upcoming Resident Alien — a TV  adaptation of the comic book series from Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse. NBCUniversal owns both UCP Graphic and SYFY.

Henry Golding is making the jump from rom-com to epic fantasy. The Crazy Rich Asians star reportedly has signed on to voice the lead role in The Tiger’s Apprentice, Paramount Animation’s upcoming animated adaptation of the children’s novel by Laurence Yep.

Henry Golding

Via The Hollywood Reporter, Golding will lend his talents as the voice of the shapeshifting tiger himself, who in the 2003 book goes by the name of Mr. Hu. The first of three books in Yep’s original trilogy (Tiger’s Blood and Tiger Magic are the others), The Tiger’s Apprentice tells the story of a boy named Tom, whose world begins to expand as Mr. Hu takes him under his paw on a magical journey to protect an ancient phoenix from the evil Clan of Nine.

Pixar animator Carlos Baena, whose background includes work on both Wall-E and Toy Story 3, will reportedly direct the movie, marking his first turn at the helm of a feature film. The Tiger’s Apprentice will be produced by Shrek EP Sandra Rabins and Ella Enchanted producer Jane Startz. There’s no early roar from Paramount Animation on a release date, with the studio’s next scheduled project, the G.I. Joe spinoff movie Snake Eyes (starring Golding as the titular ninja) still currently set for Oct. 23.

The band is back together — though only for a limited engagement.

Entertainment Weekly has announced that an all-star Scott Pilgrim vs. the World 10th-anniversary reunion table read will be taking place on July 20. 

The event — which will be raising money for the charity Water For People — will be bringing back together almost all of the film's star-packed cast, including Michael Cera (Arrested Development), Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Birds of Prey), Chris Evans (Captain America), Aubrey Plaza (Little Demon), Alison Pill (Picard), Ellen Wong (GLOW), Kiernan Culkin (Succession), Mark Webber (SMILF), Johnny Simmons (Girlboss), Satya Bhabha (Sense8), Mae Whitman (Avatar the Last Airbender), Brandon Routh (DC's Legends of Tomorrow), and Jason Schwartzman (Bored to Death). 

Also joining them will be the film's writer-director Edgar Wright (Baby Driver), his co-writer Michael Bacall, and Scott Pilgrim's  comic creator himself, Bryan Lee O'Malley. 

The now cult-classic film follows the story of the titular Pilgrim (Cera), the slacker bassist of a Toronto-based band called Sex Bob-omb, who dumps his girlfriend (Wong) to pursue a relationship with a rollerblading, Subspace-traveling Amazon courier named Ramona Flowers (Winstead). However, as he soon discovers, not only is Ramona's latest ex, Gideon Graves (Jason Schwartzman), the record producer throwing the music competition Sex Bob-omb is taking part in, but he's a member of the League of Evil Exes, a group of seven of Ramona's former partners, each of whom Pilgrim must face off against individually before he can date Ramona in peace. 

EW's reunion isn't the only upcoming Scott Pilgrim content fans can look forward to, as Wright has also mentioned possible plans to produce something animated, while O'Malley has teased a catch-up comic that follows up with where the characters are now. 

The Scott Pilgrim vs. the World reunion will take place on July 20 at 1 p.m. ET.