“Emily the Strange”:
The teen comic book creation is invading pop culture in a big, multi-platform way.
In addition to the announced Chloe Moretz film, the character will also come alive in music.
Expect to see a whole lot more of that already ubiquitous, raven-haired teen with the trademark bangs. Universal Pictures last week announced that it had acquired the rights to Dark Horse Comics’ “Emily the Strange,” with Chloe Moretz set to play the 13-year-old girl with an entourage of dark kitties and a penchant for the peculiar.
But Emily will be brought to life on stage as well as on screen; Emily’s creative managers at Cosmic Debris are teaming up with Virgin Records to give the musicloving rebel child a voice of her own in a multi-platform music project that will likely include an album, online music videos and even live performances.
Emily, who came into the world as a skateboard design before evolving into a comic book character, already has her own Dark Horse series, a slate of teen novels published by HarperCollins, a Nintendo DS game coming out this Christmas and an array of merchandise sold online and at the likes of Hot Topic.
“I feel more and more every day that this vision of mine that’s been strictly two-dimensional and imaginary in terms of prose and words is coming to life,” said Rob Reger, Emily’s creator, who is particularly excited about Moretz being cast in the role.
“From the moment I met her, I could tell she’s very genuine,” Reger said of the actress, whose latest film, “Let Me In,” opens in theaters Friday. “Her enthusiasm for Emily and the project was contagious. Her family and everyone around her were very enthusiastic about it. From her films and from hanging out with her, it’s clear that she can play a very cool and sneaky character. She’s very adventurous.”
Reger will serve as executive producer of the film, alongside Keith Goldberg of Dark Horse Entertainment. DHE President and founder Mike Richardson will produce.
At the moment, Reger has his hands full working with Virgin Records on a separate project that would give music-loving Emily a microphone. Emily makes her own instruments and blogs about what vinyl she’s listening to. Her comics feature nods to music idols and interviews with real-life artists such as Marilyn Manson, Karen O and Gerard Way.
“Music in general has always been a huge part of Emily’s world,” Reger said. “We were brainstorming one day, and somebody said, ‘Why don’t we take her and actually do a recording with her being the singer?’… This is the coolest next step, actually doing it rather than commenting on it or talking about it.”
Reger and Virgin Records President Rob Stevenson were tight-lipped about the specifics but said Emily’s musical debut will likely straddle several mediums: teasers on HearStrange
Music.com, an album accompanied by a comic book and, eventually, live performances.
Virgin has some experience coupling fictional characters with real music; the label has enjoyed great success with the Gorillaz — a music project created by Damon Albarn featuring four animated band members.
And Emily is certainly not the first musically inclined comic book character to be brought to life. Archie spinoffs Josie and the Pussycats hit the big screen and music store shelves in 2001. More recently, Sex BobOmb and The Clash at Demonhead — bands from Bryan Lee O’Malley’s “Scott Pilgrim” series — made their big-screen debuts this summer.
But while the Scott Pilgrim bunch were voiced by successful artists (Beck and Metric) with distinctive, recognizable sounds, Emily’s voice won’t be tied to any particular artist, Reger said.
“It can’t be somebody else’s. It has to be hers,” Stevenson said. “We’re not really looking for someone who’s already established as an artist themselves for that very reason. I personally would not want anyone listening to Emily the Strange and thinking, ‘Oh, that’s Karen O. ”
Reger said he’s careful to make sure all the Emily stories from the comics, novels, music project and movie fit cohesively.
“I think as long as we stick to the ethos of Emily, the ‘be yourself, think for yourself’ ethos, it will work,” he said. “If we let the overarching ideology of Emily lead the way, her iconic things people know, I think everything will land right.”
Chloe Moretz is set to voice the lead role in a planned “Emily the Strange” movie by Universal.