It’s probably no surprise to anyone that I’m slightly obsessed with Rat Queens, the breakout comic from writer Kurtis J. Wiebe and artist Roc Upchurch. I mean, it’s not like I’ve reviewed every issue or interviewed the creative team as well as Wiebe’s other collaborative partner, Tyler Jenkins, the artist for Peter Panzerfaust. Oh wait, I totally did.
Anyway, I’m not alone in my love of the kickass, foul-mouthed, all female quest group operating out of the much beleaguered city of Palisade. Wiebe and Upchurch have crafted a fantasy world with a modern attitude that has drawn in plenty of fans, male and female, to form their own community of social clubs, burlesque shows, cosplay, fan art, and online hangouts. And it seems that the popularity of the book will now extend into television.
Announced by Variety back in June, Rat Queens will be adapted into a 30-minute animated show by Weta Workshop’s Pukeko Pictures and Heavy Metal under the purview of executive producers Martin Baynton and Adam Fratto from Pukeko and Heavy Metal’s co-CEO Jeff Krelitz. Heavy Metal is also producing the television adaptation of Peter Panzerfaust for BBC Worldwide, adding to the wide variety of properties and mediums they’ve expanded to since the magazine that supplies the company name was bought from previous owner, Kevin Eastman – co-creator of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic book.
Rat Queens is a standout in the marketplace as a diving rod for fangirls, a market as yet untouched by most comics publishers. It is not only perfect for the TV space, but much needed.
Krelitz isn’t wrong in his assessment of the television landscape when it comes to courting female viewers. While the “fairer sex” as an audience will watch everything their male counterparts do, Rat Queens presents an untapped well in animation with four female protagonists who don’t conform to gender stereotypes. They’re awesome characters who happen to be women and their sex is never called into question by their male peers. If anything, the Rat Queens can out drink, out curse, and out fight most of the men they interact with or face off against. It’s a chance for a more mature audience to see that being a girl is by no means detrimental to your ability to stab out a troll’s eyes.
Wiebe: It’s exciting to have interest from the TV world on both of my projects. It’s the sort of thing you don’t ever expect to happen, and when it does it’s pretty surreal. It can be a slow process, as I’ve come to learn from the Peter Panzerfaust option, which is fine by me because my focus is, and always has been, the comics.
Upchurch: I can’t wait to see Rat Queens animated. I think this will be a great platform for it. And it’s in good hands with WETA and Heavy Metal. They won’t fuck it up.
I completely agree with Upchurch’s excitement for Rat Queens to be animated. The fantasy genre is where a property like Rat Queens thrives in animation rather than live action where the special effects can range from passable to Syfy channel, low-budget, green screen fiascos. In animation, the possibilities are similar to the comics from which they originate, limitless. I only hope the adaptation sticks to Upchurch’s art style. It’s a distinct universe with equally distinct characters. The Rat Queens are a diverse group in terms of races, religions, and sexual orientation, so I hope Pukeko and Heavy Metal stay true to what Wiebe and Upchurch have created.
Peter Panzerfaust will also need a deft hand to bring it to television. Unlike Rat Queens, Peter Panzerfaust is made for live action. And considering the track record with mini series and television shows produced by the BBC with an historical slant, adapting a book that meshes J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan with WWII sounds like a daunting, yet ultimately rewarding task. Luckily, the production already has some excellent writers on board.
For the time being, both properties are in the pre-production phase. Scripts are being written and Heavy Metal plans to produce a pilot to shop around. Fingers crossed that a network takes advantage of a growing market of female-driven properties and the fans that follow them. In the mean time, please enjoy this motion comic trailer for Peter Panzerfaust that was produced back in 2013.