Courtesy of Legion M.

 

“The Hateful Eight,” “True Grit” and “Silverado” are some popular contemporary films that we may typically think of when we hear the term “western.” Unsurprisingly, these films are male-dominated, with few women being part of the casts and creative teams. The fan-owned production company, Legion M, and Co-Op Entertainment have partnered together to break this “western” stereotype with their new project, “Girl With No Name.”

“Girl With No Name” is a female-led action-western film, and is being produced by Co-Op’s Laura Ivey and directed by Co-Op’s Tanya Wexler. The movie is set in the 1869 wild west, featuring a heroine simply called “The Girl” as its lead character. After her parents are murdered, The Girl is raised by her uncle, who didn’t enforce the stereotypical gender roles of the times.

“Her uncle [raised The Girl] without the morals of the time put on her,” said Terri Lubaroff, Legion M’s Chief Operating Officer and head of content. “He never said to her, ‘when you grow up you have to be a wife or a school mom.'”

Early sketch by Dani Strips, courtesy of Legion M.

This story will come alive in Legion M’s venture into the publishing world with an accompanying comic book. Dave Elliot at AtomekART developed the A1Shot, the oversized, heavy stock, 40-page format which will tell the “Girl with No Name” tale. According to Lubaroff, the self-sustained narrative is eight pages longer than standard comic issues. Comic artists Tula Lotay and Dani Strips will create the comic’s promotional poster, cover art and the book’s interior. The book will flesh out only a small portion of the feature film, so there’s no need to worry about reading it beforehand to spoil the entire plot. The comic book will be a good start for the “Girl with No Name” universe.

“We’re hoping the development we do for [the comic book] informs the development on the script,” Lubaroff said.

Comic books are often serialized, but future publications typically depend on how successful the first book is. Although Lubaroff feels that there is more to explore in the film’s story besides what will be presented onscreen, she can’t guarantee a continuation for the “Girl With No Name” past its movie material for comic books.

“It depends on how this one does,” she said. “I feel like there is so much to explore in this universe. I would love to say this is the first of many, but I just can’t make that promise without people going out and buying it.”

Lubaroff and her team hope that audiences are interested, especially during the time of the #MeToo movement. Both the film and comic book are female-led, an intentional choice by Legion M and Co-Op Entertainment that sets these projects apart. Lubaroff believes “it’s extraordinary … rare and a privilege” to sit in a room with a mostly female creative team.

Courtesy of Legion M.

Although led by women, there’s still exceptional male talent involved in the project. David Baxter, Legion M’s head of content development, is one of these men. His extensive comic book experience makes him an excellent addition to the project and has earned him the favor of others involved.

“[Baxter is] amazing. This is the second project we’ve worked with him on,” Lubaroff said. “He’s just been an absolute pleasure, he’s very knowledgeable and very experienced.”

While the release dates are estimated for 2019 and beyond, the audience response to the promise of the film’s release is remarkably positive. This is hardly shocking considering that Legion M ardently listens to their contributors and wants to give them a voice. Lubaroff enjoys seeing affirming responses at various comic conventions and film festivals.

“People are really excited about a female-led western told in a new way,” she said. “It’s very gratifying to see the reaction.”

Get excited, because the project will be a unique addition to both literature and film which you won’t want to miss. The comic book — predicted to release in spring 2019 — will have pre-sales available online. When available, more information will be announced here.

a.whitten@dailyutahchronicle.com

@adelinaydg

Adelina Whitten is a senior writer for the arts desk. She is a senior studying Communication.

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