Handmaid’s Tale author Margaret Atwood’s graphic novel, War Bearsis headed to television. Deadline reports that WOW! Unlimited Media has officially optioned the comic for development as an animated series. The comic, which Atwood wrote with art from Ken Steacy, tells the story of a young comic book artist during World War II who creates a Nazi-fighting bear-human hybrid character, Oursonette. However, the real story of the comic is not about the hero character, but about the artist, Al Zurakowski, and his publisher Gloriana Topper as they work to get their comic up and running in Canada.
“Ken Steacy illustrated War Bears given his World War II interests and high standards of visual accuracy. We cooperated — although the main work on the script is his — and the rest is history,” Atwood said. “Comics history. How delightful that Ken is now working with Michael Hirsh and WOW! Media to bring our beloved she-bear, Oursonette, to life.”
Collaborating with Margaret Atwood on War Bears was a superlative experience as a visual storyteller,” Steacy said. “In the graphic novel’s afterword, I expressed my hope that Oursonette would make good on her promise to return some day — I’m absolutely thrilled to be working with WOW! Media to fulfill that promise!”
Published by Dark Horse Comics, War Bears first appeared as a short story by Atwood with Steacy’s illustrations in celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary in The Globe and Mail. Atwood told Entertainment Weekly back in 2018 about the origin of the story, which involves the short-lived comics industry that developed in wartime Canada
“They were black and white comics, because it was forbidden at that time to import colored American comics into Canada, because of paper shortages and the war effort. I’ve never understood that, but it was forbidden,” Atwood said. “On VE Day, everybody knew that now everything was going to change. Back would come the American comics, which they did, and away would go the black and white ones they’d been drawing, which they did.”
At this point, War Bears is still in development, but WOW!’ Unlimited Media CEO Michael Hirsh is excited about the project.
“When I meet Margaret’s agent, Michael Levine, I jumped at the opportunity to work with these two incredibly talented artists to develop this exciting, historical graphic novel to series,” Hirsh said.
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