Starz' Spartacus: Blood and Sand goes Graphic

Starz' anticipated gladiator drama "Spartacus: Blood and Sand" is due on the smallscreen by 2010.  Hailed as one of the most realistic depictions of Roman gladiator life, the series has also spawned a Graphic/Comic book series.

Devil’s Due Publishing and Starz announced today their collaborative launch of the comic book mini-series this October based on the network’s upcoming series “Spartacus: Blood and Sand.”

Award-winning producers/filmmakers Rob Tapert, Sam Raimi and Joshua Donen will serve as executive producers on the program, along with Steven S. DeKnight, who will also be the show’s head writer.

DeKnight spoke with Monsters and Critics at the winter TCA press junket in January about "Spartacus," and what to expect from the smallscreen series.

"We're not going for horror movie brutality...Much like '300', there was a certain visual beauty in the way they shot it.  So, it is almost an era of violence.  It is an ode to violence when the fights actually happen. We are definitely not shying away from it."

"The other part of this is the sexuality of the times, it was very different kind of sexual feeling, particularly with the slave class where it was completely acceptable to have sex with your slaves, even inside a marriage. Usually it was fine for a man to have sex with female slaves and sometimes the male slaves.  It was a little bit trickier for the women, but we don't want to shy away from either the violence or the sexuality of the period.  We're trying not to put it on screen just becasue we can.  We want it to come from the story that if this story leads us to an extremely violent incident, we want to be able to show it and the same thing sexually."

“Spartacus: Blood and Sand” will undoubtedly be, by smallscreen standards. a provocative, violent and sexy television series chronicling the life of the famous Ancient Roman gladiator and his rise to fame. 

Actor John Hannah has signed on to play the devious Batiatus, the owner of the gladiator school and husband of Lucretia (Lucy Lawless), his scheming, insatiable wife. The series stars Andy Whitfield in the title role, a Thracian Soldier in the Roman Auxiliary who was taken prisoner and condemned to die in the gladiator arena.

Devil’s Due will be working closely with Starz, the production studio for its sibling premium entertainment channel, to create four self-contained stories that intertwine with the show’s continuity.

Contributing to the series will be DeKnight, DDP President Josh Blaylock and noted comic scribe Jimmy Palmiotti, with others to be announced. Evan Sult will edit the comic books with R.H. Stavis overseeing the project.

The first issue will debut as a promotional collectible at the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con with a unique variant cover available only at the convention, followed by the release of the issue in stores nationwide in October.

“This is a very exciting project for Devil’s Due,” Blaylock said. “Not only do we get to tell an incredible story full of intense action, battles, and sexy characters, we also get to work with a project from Tapert and Raimi and the entire awesome team.  We couldn’t be happier.”

“We have an expansive vision for the retelling of the classic Spartacus story, filled with astounding visuals and larger than life characters. A comic book is the natural extension to the world we’re constructing,” DeKnight said. “Josh Blaylock and the artists at Devil’s Due have just the right sensibility to make this the perfect complement to our show.”

“Spartacus: Blood and Sand” is scheduled for a debut on the Starz premium entertainment channel in January 2010.

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