WGN America is looking to expand up its slate of original programming in some promising ways. The network already has the horror-influenced witch drama Salem, as well as Outsiders, about an off-the-grid Kentucky family. But, while it also is getting ready for its Underground railroad series, it canceled the critically-liked nuclear drama Manhattan. In a more high-profile win that could bring more eyes to WGN America, the network has now purchased the rights to the DC Comics title Scalped.
This move could be also be a huge win for diversity. Scalped is a 60-issue comic written by Jason Aaron and illustrated by R.M. Guéra. It tells of Dashiell “Dash” Bad Horse who has returned to his Indian reservation years after he ran away. Geoff Johns, DC’s chief creative officer, will executive produce Scalped with Doug Jung (Banshee), who is also penning the script.
Perhaps most importantly, THR notes that WGN America is looking to feature an all Native American cast. Amid outcries for more diversity within both Hollywood and geek entertainment content, this could be the first of its kind. Though, we’ll have to see if the network can successfully turn these good intentions into action. Netflix’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt came under fire when Jane Krakowski portrayed a character with Native American roots, which could already be a foreseeable problem for something like Scalped if WGN swaps certain characters (see also: Gods of Egypt). Seeing Native Americans actors on TV is rare, and to have a series devoted to them with be a huge step in the right direction.
Elsewhere, WGN is also developing a series based on the Arkady and Boris Strugatsky novel Roadside Picnic. The series also boasts Game of Thrones‘ Alan Taylor directing the pilot, and executive producing alongside Alien: Convenant‘s Jack Paglen, who wrote the script.
Roadside Picnic explores a near-future world where aliens have come and gone, leaving humankind to explore the wondrous and dangerous mysteries left behind as well as the societal ramifications of their visit, as seen through the eyes of Red, a veteran “stalker” who has made it his life to illegally venture into the once-inhabited zone and scavenge the abandoned remains of the alien culture.
Back to DC, Scalped also joins Powerless in new comic-based series for the upcoming pilot season (though Powerless is an office-place sitcom), as well as a suite of other DC series already on the small screen, including Gotham and Supergirl on Fox, and The Flash, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow on the CW.
Here’s the official plot synopsis from Vertigo Comics on Scalped #1:
Fifteen years ago, Dashiell “Dash” Bad Horse ran away from a life of abject poverty and utter hopelessness on the Prairie Rose Indian Reservation searching for something better. Now he’s come back home armed with nothing but a set of nunchucs, a hell-bent-for-leather attitude and one dark secret, to find nothing much has changed on “The Rez” – short of a glimmering new casino, and a once-proud people overcome by drugs and organized crime. Is he here to set things right or just get a piece of the action?