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‘The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay,’ a Pulitzer Prize-Winning Novel About Comicbook Creators, Heads to Showtime as a TV Series

Michael Chabon wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay almost 20 years ago back in 2000 (how has it been that long?!). The popular fictitious novel about the early days of the comicbook industry has been in development as a movie for just about as long. Now, the beloved book is finally getting a live-action adaptation, only it’s going to be on the small screen instead of at the multiplex.

Variety reported that Chabon and his wife Ayelet Waldman, who is also a widely acclaimed author, have signed an overall production deal with CBS Television Studios. Within the deal, Chabon and Waldman will produce The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay as a TV series for Showtime along with Akiva Goldsman (The Dark Tower) and Alex Kurtzman (Star Trek).

The book follows the adventures of two cousins, one of whom flees Europe during World War II, who team-up to create, write, and draw their own fictional superhero in New York City during the Golden Age of comicbooks. The two characters are loosely based on the lives of Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster, Jim Steranko, and Bob Kane, most of whom actually make appearances within the story.

The book’s official description is as follows:

“A young escape artist and budding magician named Joe Kavalier arrives on the doorstep of his cousin, Sammy Clay. While the long shadow of Hitler falls across Europe, America is happily in thrall to the Golden Age of comic books, and in a distant corner of Brooklyn, Sammy is looking for a way to cash in on the craze. He finds the ideal partner in the aloof, artistically gifted Joe, and together they embark on an adventure that takes them deep into the heart of Manhattan, and the heart of old-fashioned American ambition. From the shared fears, dreams, and desires of two teenage boys, they spin comic book tales of the heroic, fascist-fighting Escapist and the beautiful, mysterious Luna Moth, otherworldly mistress of the night. Climbing from the streets of Brooklyn to the top of the Empire State Building, Joe and Sammy carve out lives, and careers, as vivid as cyan and magenta ink. Spanning continents and eras, this superb book by one of America’s finest writers remains one of the defining novels of our modern American age.”

Chabon’s book was also followed up with a 2009 graphic novel called The Escapists. Written by none other than Brian K. Vaughn of Y: The Last Man and Paper Girls fame, The Escapists follows the story of three modern day comicbook creators who gain the publishing rights to Kavalier and Clay’s Golden Age character. No word on whether this part of the story will be used in the series as well.

No stranger to show business or even superheroes, Michael Chabon is currently showrunning Star Trek: Picard. He also co-wrote Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 (2004) and was involved in the development of the first Fantastic Four and X-Men films for Fox back in the late 1990s and early 2000s. With that resume and this story, count us as excited to delve into the early days of the industry with The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay!

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