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Guillermo del Toro sets sights on comic books

Will exec produce 'Strain' adaptation for Dark Horse

After conquering the film, TV and novel world, multihyphenate Guillermo del Toro set his sights on his childhood love: comicbooks. Now del Toro is exec producing a feature adaptation of his and co-writer Chuck Hogan’s sci-fi vampire novel trilogy “The Strain” for Dark Horse Comics.

The 24-issue series, set for publication Dec. 14, is being adapted by writer David Lapham (“Stray Bullets”) and artist Mike Huddleston (“MK Ultra”). Three paperback graphic novel compilations will follow beginning in fall 2012.

Although del Toro has directed several bigscreen comic and graphic novel adaptations (including Dark Horse Prods.’ “Hellboy” films), “The Strain” marks his first official creative role in the medium. “I supervise everything,” he said. “I give my opinion on the art, the covers, the screenplays. (Lapham) is capturing the novel very well.” Lapham recently penned Dark Horse’s new “Kull” miniseries.

Hogan, whose 2005 novel “Prince of Thieves” was adapted into Ben Affleck’s hit thriller “The Town,” will also supervise the writing.

The 2009 bestseller “The Strain” follows a biohazard expert and elderly Holocaust survivor who fight a virus turning New York City residents into zombie-like vampires. In the 2010 follow-up “The Fall,” the virus spreads and war breaks out between Old and New World vampires. Del Toro and Hogan recently finished the final novel, “The Night Eternal,” due from William Morrow in October.

Each 32-page Dark Horse issue will be released day-and-date in paper and digital versions. After the eight monthly “Strain” issues finish their rollout next July, the eight-part “Fall” series will launch in the fall, followed by eight “Eternal” comics.

In part, del Toro’s desire to work with Dark Horse stems from loyalty to company founder Mike Richardson, who fought for his vision during their seven-year quest to bring “Hellboy” to the screen. “He was behind me through thick and thin,” del Toro says. “They are great supporters of alternative and more adventurous comics.”

“The Strain” isn’t his first stab at new geek-friendly mediums. He recently pacted with THQ to serve as external creative director of “inSANE,” a videogame trilogy launching in 2013.

On the bigscreen, del Toro co-wrote and produced (with Mark Johnson) the upcoming horror remake “Don’t Be Afraid of The Dark.” But despite his revived interest in comic fare, fanboys shouldn’t hold their breath for a “Hellboy III.”

“I don’t know if we can collect everyone in time to make another ‘Hellboy’ before it’s a geriatric endeavor,” he says. “I think the third would take another five to six years, and by that time, Ron [Perlman] would be getting a senior discount at the drugstore.”

Del Toro is repped by WME and Gary Ungar at Exile Entertainment.

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