Amazon Studios Publishes Blackburn Burrow Digital Comic as Screenplay Test

I didn’t know Amazon had a Studios, but they do. Amazon Studios is, according to their FAQ, “an effective way to develop commercially viable feature films and episodic series.” They “try to get the stories into a form that is either short, or visual, or both” and then “test premises, posters, trailers, test movies, pilots, promos, and other formats to see what people think.” They even have a first-look deal with Warner Bros., in case one of the movie pitches pans out.

Blackburn Burrow cover by Brian Stelfreeze

Cover by Brian Stelfreeze

As part of this effort, Amazon Studios today released its first digital comic. Blackburn Burrow is written by Ron Marz, illustrated by Matthew Dow Smith, and “based on an original screenplay from J.H. Levy”. (Judging from feedback on the site, the idea’s been floating around there for a year and a half.) It’s an historical horror Western, with the description as follows:

During the Civil War, a nameless man with a haunted past is sent by Union officials to hunt a mysterious supernatural evil in a remote mining town, where he uncovers a sinister plot to raise an supernatural army that will plunge the world into darkness.

It reminds me of a mashup of the Hellboy family of titles, The Walking Dead, and Jonah Hex (the movie more than the comic). I found it too strongly reminiscent of other stories I’d read before, but I’m not a fan of the supernatural Western. Speaking commercially, with the recent failure of Cowboys and Aliens, I’m not sure it’s what Hollywood is looking for either. I do wish they’d made more of the time period — as it is, it could be taking place almost any time.

The only piece of public feedback (since Amazon Studios is set up to gather comments) so far relates to the mechanism of reading the comic (which uses graphic.ly). However, if you read it, then fill out their survey, Amazon will send you a $5 gift card. I appreciate them being willing to pay for the reader’s time and attention.

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One Response to “Amazon Studios Publishes Blackburn Burrow Digital Comic as Screenplay Test”

  1. John Jakala Says:

    Turns out the survey (and $5 offer) was only open to the first 5000 respondents, so I don’t get anything for my time.

    As for the comic itself, there was nothing that would get me to come back for the second issue. It was a bland story with dull art. (Some of the staging and composition was really poor.)

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