Filmmaker makes deal on comic series

Ed Burns is hatching a deal with Virgin Comics for a comic book series that serves as a calling card for a live action feature.

Burns has created “Dock Walloper,” a stylized gangster tale set in the 1920s, where Prohibition has created a struggle to control the criminal underworld.

Burns is writing the comic with Jimmy Palmiotti, and it will be drawn by Virgin’s in-house artist, Siju Thomas.

Burns has joined a recent trend where actors and filmmakers road-test film concepts in comic book form. Virgin has already worked with John Woo on the comic “Seven Brothers,” Nicolas Cage and his son Weston Cage on “Voodoo Child,” and Guy Ritchie on “Gamekeeper,” the latter of which was just set up for a feature with Warner Bros. and producer Joel Silver. Separately, Dimension Films made a deal to adapt “O.C.T.: Occult Crimes Taskforce,” an Image Comics title hatched by Rosario Dawson.

Burns, who’ll begin writing the feature script in the fall, saw the comic as a way to transition from indie relationship films to a larger canvas.

“I always wanted to make a film about Irish Americans and New York history, but was looking at an $80 million budget for what is really an esoteric character study,” said Burns. “After I saw `Sin City,’ I saw how the world can be recreated and then `300′ fully convinced me that the way to do it was to green screen the whole thing.”

Burns will write himself in to play Mad Dog Madden, a fading crime lord, and he’ll look for a star to play the Smith character.

Burns, who just acted in “27 Dresses” for Spyglass and “One Missed Call” for Warner Bros., is prepping for a March start date on “Rainy Dog,” a remake of the Japanese gangster film. Kadokawa is financing.

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