In 1907, a gifted child was identified, kidnapped and taken to a secret location deep in the Andes known only as The Shrine. A place appearing on no map, whispered about only by some of the indigenous tribes in the surrounding area. It is the ultra-secret headquarters of the sinister Brotherhood. Once there, the child's real name was erased and he was given only a number, the number 13. As the memories of his parents and past life faded, the boy was trained in the secret arts of power and warfare. An exemplary student, he was destined to become one of the Brotherhood's greatest agents. Instead, 13 happened upon the true nature of the Brotherhood and its evil intent. Understanding their lies, and wanting nothing to do with them, he fled. Thus began a deadly game of cat-and-mouse between Agent 13 and the secret Brotherhood.
What is the Brotherhood?
The Brotherhood has existed since the dawn of official civilisation. For millennia, its unseen hand guided mankind down the bright path. But then Itsu, the Hand Sinister, seized power and desired more. In doing so, he converted the light of the Organisation into a darkness.. Now, in the 1930's Itsu and his Brotherhood lusts for global domination and is orchestrating a debilitating war to seize it. Only one man, Agent 13, stands in the way of their plots and plans.
A Midnight Avenger, Agent 13 is a master of disguise, an invisible operator and a ruthless destroyer of the Brotherhood's evil. He is committed to toppling the Brotherhood and restoring its original mandate, that of a benevolent and unseen guide of humanity and progress. For that reason, the Brotherhood fears him. For many of their agents have been discovered dead, with the number 13 branded into their forehead's.
A loner who works though a network of trusted informants, Agent 13 has come to rely on Maggie Darr, the only person outside of the Brotherhood who has seen his real face, Daring, beautiful and feisty, Maggie looks as good with a Thompson machine gun as she does with her infectious smile. She and 13 are allies, not lovers, but were Agent 13's mission any less compelling, things might be forever different...
It was an LA winter evening in the late-80's, I was sitting in my friend, Flint Dille’s living room in Westwood one night, jamming ideas for a possible movie that we would both like to see and could possible write together. Flint was a big fan of the adventure-pulp novels of the 30's and 40's and he showed me some of the originals he had recently purchased at Comic-con. Amazing Stories, True Adventure, Secret Agent X, Sky Fighter, and The Shadow to name a few. Just looking at those fragile covers inspired a thousand and one different stories and I realised Flint was on to something. The Pulps were also in Flint's blood, literally.
Flint's grandfather was John F. Dille who ran the National Newspaper Syndicate in the late 20's. It was John Dille who quickly noticed the original character, Anthony Rogers, as created by Philip Nowlan and published in 1929. Dille realised the potential and contracted Nowlan to turn it into a comic strip that became Buck Rogers.
I had just written some screenplays for Warner Brothers, one of which was entitled the Blonde Hurricane that was a film in the 30's set in Europe and the Middle East on the eve of WW2. So the time period and research was fresh in my brain and I said to Flint: ‘If we can come up with an interesting story about this stuff, we can go around and pitch it to some of my studio contacts, and set it up as a film to write. And most important - get paid.’
Flint agreed, so we started to developed Agent 13 as a studio pitch to set up as a screenplay deal and spent quite a lot of time developing the story. In doing so, we referenced the spirit of the 30's pulps and set it in the time period just before the outbreak of WW2. We also infused into it many of the alternate theories of civilisation and how we came to be here as a race. When we felt the story and characters were solid, we set up the meetings and started to pitch it around to the various studios.
Unfortunately, the movie deal wasn’t getting set up as quickly as we liked, but the story was progressing and evolving to the level where we had all the characters and everything else completely flushed out. So we decided to just write it as a series of books and comics instead. Besides, the process of book writing is in many ways more satisfying then that of screenplays which tend to, at least at the studio level, follow a strict set of guidelines as to how they must be. Stray off those guidelines and your script will either go to the trash, or they will replace you with a writer who is willing to obey their orders to the T.
Flint and I both felt that Agent 13 and his world had progressed beyond the narrow confines of a 120 page script and that to properly tell Agent 13's story, his back story and explain his world, we would require more time and pages than a screenplay could afford.
As luck would provide, Flint’s sister had access to a Random House publishing deal through her company TSR, and we were able to get a publishing deal up pretty quickly once we decided that was the route we wanted to go, at which point we stopped with the film pitch and just dove into Agent 13 novel world. Which at the end of the day, was more fun in that it allowed us to again go deeper into the characters and backstory and really create the involved world that the material demanded.
I normally never work with a writing partner as I find it to be a very frustrating experience. There is the problem of scheduling, who writes what when, who rewrites who when? etc. It's the kind of give and take experience that can destroy marriages and friendships.
So we focused on our strengths. Flint is very good with the big, broad, crazy ideas and then I’m good at taking those unique ideas and grounding them in research and figuring out ways to make them work and sound somewhat believable. So it was really a combination of him and his wild ideas and me saying: ‘Okay, how can we ground this stuff in a reality that people can buy?'
We'd talk through the story, fleshing out as much as we could, then Flint would do a first pass at the material, framing up the structure quickly. Then I would do the "brick and mortar," expanding and reinforcing his structure, infusing it with the research so that it would have a semblance of believability and depth. Grounding it in the research of the ancient lore, myths and theories I uncovered. I need to find a reality that I can believe in. If I can sell it to myself, then I figure I've a better chance of selling it to the reader.
Eventually the books came out. Three altogether. Agent 13, the Midnight Avenger, Agent 13 and the Serpentine Assassins and Agent 13 and the Acolytes of Darkness. The books quickly spun into comics, role playing games and eventually a radio show. Then, one of those producers we had pitched to years ago, Sean Daniels, remembered the project and our pitch and tracked us down. He wanted to know if the rights to do it as a film were still available and if we were interested. Of course we were. The project seemed to have come full circle after all these years.
So he optioned the material and started to develop our property into a screenplay with another writer as neither Flint nor myself were available as the time. Sean has since managed to set it up at Universal with Rupert Wyatt attached to direct and Charlize Theron attached to produce and star. Time will tell if the series ever manages to hit the silver screen. Our fingers are crossed.