J.J. Abrams' 'Fringe' Debuts in Comic Book Before TV

Cover to Wildstorm's Fringe #1 comic book

For the rest of the world, Fringe frenzy will have to wait. But for comic book readers, it's starting early.

As fans of J.J. Abrams vehicles like television's Lost and the big screen's Cloverfield know, his creations are filled with mysteries and closely guarded secrets. Yet comic book readers are being given extra insight -- and an early peek -- into his next creation as this month's first issue of the Fringe comic book will be in the hands of readers before the show begins on Fox on Sept. 9.

Released under DC Comics' Wildstorm imprint, the six monthly installments of the Fringe comic will be written by many of the same people who are guiding the television series, promising comics-only extras as the monthly issues work in conjunction with the show's first season.

"There are definitely hidden (and not-so-hidden) elements that will feed into the Fringe [tv] series that you can only find in the comic," said Athena Wickham, co-story consultant for the Fringe comic and TV executive for Abrams' production company, Bad Robot. While Wickham said reading the comic isn't necessary for viewers to understand what's happening in the show, "it will give them a greater appreciation of what's to come and help them uncover some of the integrated plot points."

Wickham joins quite a few other people who are making sure the comic fits seamlessly with the show. Series creators Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, and Roberto Orci (the writers behind the upcoming Star Trek movie) are co-developing the comic book story and approving all scripts and art. Then the six issues of Fringe are being crafted by TV show staff writers Zack Whedon and Julia Cho along with Superman/Batman scribe Mike Johnson, who works with the Kurtzman/Orci production company. The comic will also have contributions from other members of the television show's staff of writers, including Alex Katsnelson, Danielle Dispaltro, and Matthew Pitts.

"The writers have created such a rich and complex series that we are looking to the comic to further illuminate the Fringe universe," said David Baronoff, creative executive for Bad Robot, who is also a co-story consultant on the Fringe comic.

The Fringe show, which centers on "fringe sciences" like telekinesis and reanimation, follows the story of FBI agent Olivia Dunham. Working with scientist Walter Bishop and his son Peter, she discovers that a specialized government department is looking into a recent series of reality-bending events called the "Pattern."

As the comic series opens, Wickham said the first issue "begins when the yin and yang of fringe science first meet face to face."

"The issues will consist of two parts. Part A will tell the back-story story of two of our key characters: Walter Bishop and William Bell. Part B will consist of stand-alone stories," Wickham said. "Readers will be introduced to a range of characters -- from those at the epicenter of the pilot to others who might not live to make a series appearance."

Comics artist Tom Mandrake will provide art for the back-story. "He will be joined by Simon Coleby in the first issue, with surprise artists to come in upcoming issues," Baronoff said. "Mandrake just jumped out at us with his extremely emotional and creepy art. He's producing amazing work. Coleby is a rising star whose style is perfect for Fringe."

Baronoff said the comic is being designed to visually echo the Fringe universe and the overall tone of the television series.

"We are working with the amazing team at Wildstorm so that both the artists' work and the physical book itself will be reflective of the story's place and time," Baronoff said. "Much like the series, we hope this comic will run the gamut from dark and eerie to funny and profound."

The first issue of the comics series will be available on Aug. 27th, with subsequent issues released each month, promising in ad copy that they will "thrill, terrify and explore the blurring line between science fiction and reality."

"It's a lot of fun and we hope it creeps out all of our readers," Wickham said.

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