Shaun Tan’s illustrated book Tales from Outer Suburbia is being developed into an animated series, with the author reuniting with The Lost Thing producer Sophie Byrne.
The pair will develop the television adaptation of the award-winning title with Flying Bark Productions.
Tan’s book has been translated in 28 territories across the world and tells the story of clever “almost 13-year-old” Klara and her younger brother Pim, who begin experiencing weird and miraculous phenomena as they go about their everyday life in Australian suburbia, whether that be spotting a water buffalo hiding in the long grass in a vacant lot, or discovering a secret garden deep within the walls of their home.
The Australian Children’s Television Foundation (ACTF) has provided development investment for the creation of the concept and scripts for the 12 x 30-minute series, for which the creative team has produced a teaser.
Tan is the creative director of development, working alongside producers Byrne and Flying Bark Productions’ Alexia Gates-Foale, as well as writers Sam Carroll and Lally Katz.
Tan and Byrne previously worked together on the 15-minute short film adaptation of Shaun’s picture book The Lost Thing, which won the 2011 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.
Flying Bark’s Barbara Stephen and Bernadette O’Mahony from the ACTF are executive producers. Funding assistance has also come from Screen Australia.
Tan said the intention was to create a “playful” series, both fun and thought-provoking, that ignited children’s imaginations.
“Ordinary life is anything but ordinary, but we often need good, smart storytelling to remind us of this,” he said.
“With Tales from Outer Suburbia, we hope to awaken that fantastic realisation that fiction and reality are never very far from one another and that there is really no such thing as a normal life.”
Byrne hoped the audience would be able to see “something of their own worldly problems in an otherworldly context” in every episode.
“Drawing upon the much-loved stories from the original book, we have developed a new work with its own voice and aesthetic which shows that the world around us is not always what it seems,” she said.
Stephen said Flying Bark Productions was drawing on both CG and 2D artistry to build “a rich world full of vibrant characters”.
“The result is the rich textured look and feel of stop motion animation with Shaun’s unmistakeable visual motifs,” she said.
“The work is digitally handcrafted to reflect Shaun’s intricate and distinctive style of illustration.”
No broadcast partner for the series has been confirmed as yet.