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Quick on the draw: studios fast-track graphic novels, comics.

For four months, writers weren't writing and production execs weren't giving notes. So what were they doing with all their idle time? Judging by a number of deals last week, everybody was reading comicbooks.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

As the biz revved up again after the writers' walkout a slew of deals were made for films based on graphic novels and comics.

Warner Bros. jumped on the anime bus and will spin Katsuhiro Otomo's six-volume graphic novel "Akira" into two live-action movies. Leonardo DiCaprio is on board as a producer.

Paramount has put its weight behind a film based on Charles Burns' graphic novel "Black Hole," tapping David Fincher for helming duties. "Beowulf' scribes Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary penned the most recent draft.

And Columbia and producer Neal H. Moritz took a chance on flawed superheroes by acquiring the rights to Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson's indie comicbook "The Boys," which tears down the myth of the superhero. If literary snobs think this is an unfortunate trend--coming the same week that Oscars are saluting literature and works by Ian McEwan, Upton Sinclair and Cormac McCarthy--they have to concede that comicbooks do feature some words.

That sets the graphic-novel-mania apart from what could be the biggest post-strike deal of all: Universal's plan to make films based on Hasbro board games and toys.

After all, it doesn't take a classics-steeped mind to appreciate the dramatic arcs, metaphors and sentence structure on display in a round of Candy Land.

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Title Annotation:Smoke & Mirrors: BEHIND THE SCENES OF THE BIZ'S DEALS, DECISIONS AND DIVERSIONS; Columbia Pictures Industries Inc.; Paramount Home Entertainment; Warner Bros.
Author:Siegel, Tatiana
Publication:Variety
Article Type:Brief article
Date:Feb 25, 2008
Words:245
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