A crime-fighting group of pigeons from Australia are ready to take flight in Hollywood!
Andrew McDonald and Ben Wood, an author-illustrator duo from Melbourne, turned the humble pigeon into superheroes and they’ve just been picked up by Nickelodeon.
The children’s television company have brought James Corden onboard to produce the film and television series based on the book series, Real Pigeons, along with Emmy-winning show-runner Ben Winston.
The deal has come as a wonderful surprise for McDonald and Wood:
“My philosophy is that I make books, and I’m really excited that they think that they think that they can turn the story and the characters into something that will appeal to a TV and film audience,” said McDonald to the Aussie Guardian.
Photograph: Hardie Grant Egmont
The books follow crime-fighting birds- Rock Pigeon, Tumbler, Frillback and Homey- who rescue their fellow animals- as well as humans- from trouble.
“I started wondering about pigeons and what’s going on in their little brains, and I thought, wouldn’t they be the ultimate crime-fighting outfit or surveillance network? Because they are everywhere, they see everything,” the author explained.
Soon McDonald was researching the city birds and finding out they are a lot more interesting than he first assumed, and that they had distinctive attributes he could use for characterisation including the frillback pigeon “that looks like a wedding cake bird” and somersaulting tumbler pigeons who perform acrobatics mid-air.
“I learned that pigeons can fly faster than cheetahs can run,” he says. “I learned that their eyes are better than human eyes. They’re obviously a superbird.”
The artwork by Ben Wood has an energy that simply had to be adapted for film.
“I never went into it as a 2D world, it was always an animated world in my head,” he says. “Even the way I compose the images, I tend to think, ‘Where’s the camera?’ I want them to be immersive.”
McDonald and Wood explained how the illustrations grab the attention of younger readers.
“When a kid opens up a Real Pigeons book we give them two things,” McDonald says. “We say, we’re gonna have fun and solve a mystery together and it’s going to be a bit like a game, and it’s going to be really silly. We definitely lean into the silliness.”
Beginning with Real Pigeons Fight Crime, there are five books in total so far, all published by Hardie Grant Egmont.
A start date for production is yet to be determined- keep your eye out for more news!