Emily the Strange

Cult comic icon getting feature treatment…

Dark Horse Entertainment’s president, Mike Richardson, has confirmed rumors that his production company will produce a feature film based on skateboarder Rob Reger’s counterculture icon Emily the Strange. The film will tell focus on the origin of this “gothic figure and her four mysterious cats,” as THR.com describes her. Reger created the ebony-haired little girl in the early 1990s, one of many images he was printing up for stickers, t-shirts and skateboards at the time.

Like Reger’s company, Cosmic Debris (which became a multi-million-dollar business with products in the realms of fashion, books and comics, toys, school supplies, and accessories), the Emily character took off. This sullen-looking little girl, often accompanied by four cats, has also become an image closely associated with female empowerment and anti-conformity trends.

While Reger has remained behind the helm of Emily the Strange, Mike Richardson became involved with the character in 2005 when Dark Horse Publishing first released a comic book featuring the character titled “Emily the Strange #1: Chairman of the Bored,” which was followed by several other popular miniseries. “Emily herself is very appealing little girl, there’s an edge to her,” Richardson said. “There is something very alluring to her image; people see it and respond to it immediately.”

Richardson, the producer behind Hellboy (2004) and 30 Days of Night (2007), said that he and Reger are on the lookout for a filmmaker who seems to “get” the Emily character. The duo are hard at work to transform Emily the Strange’s cult appeal into a full-blown franchise, working with HarperCollins, who will publish a young adult novel based on the backstory presented in the film sometime next year.

Reger cites Dr. Seuss and M.C. Escher, among others, as influences on his Emily design, and credits her popularity to the character’s punk fashion sense, the clean and direct graphic quality of her design, her feline companions, and the message of empowerment she represents.

“In their life, everybody has, especially in the teenage years, looked to find themselves and felt like they don’t fit in,” said Reger. “Emily represents that person, but in a positive light. She prefers to be different and to look at things in her own way. She’s a great role model for people to think for themselves.”

He adds: “It was one my many designs that just stuck. I remember three years (after I created it) thinking ‘They’re still ordering the same dang shirt!’ There’s something there.”

The Emily storyline is currently being kept under wraps as Reger and Richardson search for a filmmaker and shop around for a studio (a partnership with Universal seems likely, given its first-look deal with Dark Horse).

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