Tyrant: The Movie!

Dreams Do Come True…


It’s been top secret for over two years now, but S.R. Bissette’s Tyrant® is finally going to become a feature-length CGI animated feature, slated for 2012 release.

“I’ve been dreaming of this since I was four years old,” grizzled Tyrant creator Stephen Bissette said just after his 55th birthday this year. “From the time I first conceived of this story, I saw it primarily as a movie — in my head, of course, it was the ultimate Ray Harryhausen movie!”

With negotiations quietly kept under wraps since 2008, it was announced today that this complicated South Korean/Belgian/Brazilian/Canal+ co-production was indeed underway and Bissette had approved the initial animation tests, which were presented to him in his Vermont home earlier in March.

As with the recent international animation sleeper The Secret of Kells, such elaborate coproductions are becoming the way in which non-Hollywood animated films are being made. Though The Secret of Kells was made in Ireland, it was an international coproduction that took over four years to complete.

“What they’ve done with my characters, and with these expansive Late Cretaceous landscapes and creatures, is just astonishing,” Bissette said, rubbing his beard sagely. “Every scale, every dewdrop, every dragonfly, every vein of every leaf and every drop of blood looks utterly alive, and Tyrant’s birth is as vivid as that calf birthing I saw when I was six years old, in the Sherman Farm barn.”

[Bissette's original artwork from his celebrated comicbook series is being referenced by animators every step of the way. ©1996, 2010 Stephen R. Bissette, all rights reserved.]

Details of the production are still being kept secret, though it was also announced that Phil Tippett, Roger Avary, Sir Kenneth Branagh and Jean ‘Moebius’ Giraud are among the talents involved in this lavish international coproduction.

The production is being supervised by famed South Korean filmmaker Hyung-rae Shim, whose earlier films include Yonggary (1999, released in the US as Reptilian) and the global hit D-War (2007).

“I insisted on the involvement of certain key individuals whose own work has been important to my own,” Bissette said, “and the producers have surprised me every step of the way. They’ve managed to get just about everyone, and I’m delighted.”

Shuttling between Vermont, Uruguay and South Korea, Bissette has managed to keep tabs on every step of the process since work began in 2008. “When they initially approached me about doing this, I was pretty skeptical,” he said. “But thanks to high-speed internet access and the willingness of the producers to involve me completely, this was been a remarkable experience so far, and I’ve no reason to expect things won’t continue to go swimmingly.”

The production has also tapped the original paleontologists who helped Bissette with his comicbook series, to ensure absolute fidelity to the fossil record. “That was important to all concerned,” Bissette noted, “though we will have to occasionally invent things, as I did in the comic, where there’s simply no fossil record to answer our questions. For instance, there are still no Tyrannosaurus rex nests that have turned up, so that entire aspect of the narrative is necessarily extrapolated from what little we do know.”

The one caveat the producers insisted upon was a narrator. “We were all agreed that there would not be any human voices put to these magnificent animals, the dinosaurs themselves,” producer-director Hyung-rae Shim said from his South Korean studio. “But we could not have a feature-length movie comprised entirely of snarls, growls and roars.”

“I couldn’t stomach their initial idea of using songs by the Roche Sisters to tell the story,” the shaggy cartoonist grumbled. “I like the Roches and all, but it was too Land Before Time for me. After shooting down the Indigo Girls and Lady GaGa, I pushed for John Goodman, Don Van Vliet or Steve Buscemi, but that didn’t fly, either. Finally, the powers-that-be were insistent upon using Sir Kenneth Branagh, because they knew he could carry a dinosaur feature.”

Bissette sighs with satisfaction, already seeing and hearing what the proposed feature will be. “What can I say? After watching Walking With Dinosaurs for the 48th time, the only voice I could hear providing the narration was Branagh’s. I mean, he is the voice of the Late Cretaceous, as far as I’m concerned.”

S.R. Bissette’s Tyrant® is a registered trademark of Stephen R. Bissette, all rights reserved; all artwork ©1995-96, 2010 Stephen R. Bissette.


[April 2nd note: The above was indeed an April Fool's Day post -- and it worked far, far too well!]

Discussion (22) ¬

  1. Steven Pennella

    Great news! Can’t wait to see it.

  2. Zatoichi

    Steve, that’s fantastic news! Congratulations!

  3. Zatoichi

    I just realized the date. I hope you’re not fooling with us.

  4. Brian C. Payne

    Wow! That’s quite a secret you’ve been keeping. I look forward to the “movie.” I really love the Roches but I have to think that you made the right call vetoing a Tyrant song cycle. Branagh is a great choice as narrator. However, I’ll always imagine what a strange little flick it might have been with a Beefheart voice over.

    Yet, what I am even more excited about than your “big screen” news is that I believe you have several unpublished pages of Tyrant ( correct me if I’m wrong) and I hope that this movie might generate enough interest in the original comics that we might see a faux reptile skin hard cover collection someday that includes any and every page you ever drew for your classic creation from the Late Cretaceous period.

  5. Brian C. Payne

    D’oh! I just read Zatoichi’s second comment. If this is in fact an April Fool’s joke I must admit that you got me good.

  6. mike dobbs

    Dude! You’re going to disappoint these people when they realize its an April Fool’s joke!

  7. Allie

    I don’t know, I think Lady Gaga could have been perfect for the job.

    (Good one, Steve, although this honestly makes me a little sad!)

  8. Ade Brown


    but also


  9. tOkKa

    –>> .. do i smell fish ??

  10. Maia

    Daaaad. I wish.

  11. Steve Weiner

    Well that’s big news, Steve! I’d heard earlier that you’d been appointed to the newly created position of Ambassador of comics. Congratulations!

  12. mark a. nelson

    FANTASTIC my friend!!!!
    That is great!!!!!!!! WOW!
    Far Frietrucking out as we used to say!

    Just great news.

  13. Alanbgo

    Oh, Bissette! And I was so excited there for a minute. Ya got me.

  14. James Robert Smith

    April fools??!!

    The Roches is the only thing that is keeping me from thinking otherwise.

  15. baldemarbyars

    Today’s “Variety” says that the screenplay for “Tyrant” is being done by David Mamet. I guess we’d better expect a lot of Cretaceous cursing.

  16. srbissette

    Well, it’s 5 PM — I guess it’s time to tip that this is indeed a vast crock of April Fool’s B.S.

    How could I resist?

    [Maia, your post cracked me up completely. I can SO hear your voice!]

  17. Mark Masztal

    You’ve disappointed me for the last time. Oreo Double Stuff’s at 10 paces. See you in WRJ!

  18. Charles Hatfield

    And the award for Most Disappointing Disclosure goes to…

  19. Mike Howlett

    Nice job of playing with my emotions! Ha! You pretty much got me, even a day later.

    Hopefully, one day this will be true.

  20. Rob Imes

    I honestly fell for this bit of news… and totally believed it for 24 hours (until checking the site again today)!

  21. srbissette

    Thanks, all. It’s nice to know folks are rooting for my scaly li’l dream (of TYRANT, not the nonexistent movie). This means a lot — and helps light a few fires.

    Between this comment thread, Facebook and emails (not to mention a few students, who congratulated me face-to-face and whom I inadvertantly embarrassed when I said, “uh, April Fool!”), there were almost 150 responses and well-wishes to this April Fool’s joke. Pretty overwhelming — and evidence that I’d better get back to work on TYRANT, and soon.

  22. Paul Riddell

    A hat tip to you. I haven’t had this much fun with a comics-related prank since I did that weekly newspaper article on the “Green Lantern” movie back in 1996. (Did you know that I STILL get people asking about when that’s going to be released? Even with the allegedly legitimate version coming out next year, I still hear from old cohorts who read the original article and expect to see the version I described. They get extremely pissed off when I tell them, yet again, that it was a hoax from beginning to end.)

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