Comic book films -- Richie Rich, Spider-Man, Concrete, and Flaming Carrot may be hitting the big screen

Story-starved Hollywood executives are leaving the pages of no comic book unturned these days. Never mind that 1990’s Dick Tracy didn’t blast its way into the stratosphere as Disney had expected (they’ve scratched plans for sequels as well as theme park attractions); Batman’s grosses (more than $250 million) still stand as proof of the power of comics on film, so more comics- inspired creations are being inked for the screen:

If an anxiety-ridden caped crusader can do it, Marvel Comics’ legendary Spider-Man might also have a shot at the big time. James Cameron (Terminator 2) is reportedly eyeing SpiderMan, a project that has been in development at Sony Pictures (formerly Columbia Pictures). Since Cameron has the clout of a superhero himself now, thanks to T2, Spidey has acquired new importance, according to industry insiders. The studio also recently optioned Marvel’s The Black Panther, which features a crime-fighting African prince named T’Challa, to develop for rising star Wesley Snipes (Jungle Fever).

Concrete and Flaming Carrot, characters who look exactly as their names suggest, may make it to the big screen; their offbeat publisher, Portland, Ore.-based Dark Horse Comics, has just signed a development deal with Twentieth Century Fox.

The Japanese comic-book character Mai, the Psychic Girl will be the subject of a Tim Burton (Edward Scissorhands) musical for Carolco Pictures (which now has a distribution deal with TriStar). The director has already indicated he’d like his favorite leading lady, Winona Ryder, to star.

The pesky misadventures of Dennis the Menace will be produced by kidmeister John Hughes (Home Alone). Cartoonist Hank Ketcham, who created Dennis almost 40 years ago, will supervise the script for Warner Bros. A director has yet to be announced.

The rights to Richie Rich, the wealthiest kid in the world, are in the hands of producer Joel Silver (Die Hard 2) and Warner Bros.; Macaulay Culkin has been approached about the role. His asking price? $4 million and 10 percent of the gross. So far, no deal.

Casper the Friendly Ghost will feature a mix of live action and animation in a movie produced by the team of Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment and Universal Pictures. Universal is also at the bottom of Baby Huey, the gargantuan duckling who will be the subject of both a six- to eight-minute theatrical short and a feature.

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