John Barrowman, the Torchwood and Arrow star, has come aboard to develop an adaptation of The 49th Key, a story from author Erika Lewis that appears in the newest edition of the sci-fi/fantasy comic magazine Heavy Metal.
Barrowman will executive produce and star in what is intended to be an event TV miniseries.
Heavy Metal’s Jeff Krelitz and David Boxenbaum will executive produce, with Jeremy Atkins, who recently joined Heavy Metal from Dark Horse, as an associate producer.
49th Key is based on the 16th century legend of Enochian magic, which tells of a secret language of angels.
The first chapter in an expansive fantasy series tells of a rogue archeologist and a young autistic and mute boy on a treacherous journey through England to bring the boy home. The boy turns out to be the key to a gateway between our world and that of Enochia, a magical society that exists below the Earth’s surface, filled with fantasy creatures and highly advanced humans.
The story makes its debut in issue 273 of Heavy Metal (pictured), which hits comics shops and bookstores Wednesday and is drawn by J.K. Woodward. The serialized story will run in the magazine through the year.
Lewis spent 15 years as a development and production television executive, working at Sony, Fox, and NBC Universal before leaving her position as vp programming and production at G4 when the channel was shuttered to pursue a career in writing. She is now writing a teen fantasy series for the Macmillan imprint Tor Books. Lewis is repped by Sally Wofford-Girand at Union Literary, The Cartel and Jackoway Tyerman.
Barrowman broke out on BBC’s Doctor Who when he played Captain Jack Harkness, which led to his own spinoff show, Torchwood. He now plays Malcolm Merlyn, aka The Dark Archer on Arrow. As a producer, his production company Barrowman Barker Productions has been involved in British variety show Tonight’s The Night and reality series The Small Animal Hospital.
Krelitz has several projects in developments, including the adaptation of the Image Comics title, Peter Panzerfaust, with BBC, as well as the Wizard of Oz-themed Red Brick Road, set up at Warner Bros. and Lifetime Network.
He worked with Barrowman on the digital series Torchwood: Web of Lies.
Krelitz teamed up with Boxenbaum, a co-founder of A&M/Octone Records, to buy Heavy Metal in March 2014 and relaunch with a multi-media focus.