Seth MacFarlane’s First Novel Will Be Released Tomorrow

Seth MacFarlane can do anything: create animation, make live-action features, sing, act, produce live-action sitcoms and science documentaries, host the Oscars, and add to that list now, write novels. Of course, whether he does any of it well is another question.

MacFarlane’s first book, A Million Ways to Die in the West: A Novel, will be released tomorrow by Ballantine Books. The novel is based on the screenplay he wrote with Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild for the upcoming film of the same name, and both Sulkin and Wild receive credit on the book cover.

According to the Wall Street Journal, MacFarlane’s writing is ” peppered with gags about infanticide, child brides, bestiality, incest and one of his comic staples, diarrhea.” Louis L’Amour, this ain’t.

WSJ described the genesis of the project:

A Million Ways to Die in the West grew out of a long-running inside joke between Mr. MacFarlane, Mr. Sulkin and another longtime collaborator, Mr. Wild. The three men have worked together for around a decade as co-writers on Family Guy and Ted. Several years ago, they started joking about how depressing and dull it must have been to live in the Old West.

“There would be nothing to do. You would rise and go to sleep with the sun,” Mr. MacFarlane said. “It takes three hours to get into town from your cabin, and when you get there, there’s like, one restaurant.”

He suggested they turn the extended riff into a movie. They modeled it partly on Mel Brooks’s Blazing Saddles and on Woody Allen’s Love and Death, which features Mr. Allen as a cowardly soldier during the Napoleonic wars. Like Mr. Allen’s character, Albert feels like he is living in the wrong century. “It’s a time-travel story without time travel,” Mr. MacFarlane said.

MacFarlane wrote the novel in secret while they were shooting the film in New Mexico. “We see this as the beginning of his career as a novelist and want it to be treated as its own thing, not as a piece of tie-in movie merchandise,” Jennifer Hershey, editor in chief at Ballantine Bantam Dell, told the WSJ.

(Seth MacFarlane photo by s_bukley, via Shutterstock)


  • Googamp32

    Oh, goody. A book full of the wit and wisdom of Mr. “All religious people are intolerant idiots, all republicans and successful businessmen are evil, and domestic abuse victims should stay in abusive relationships”. Who’s up for going “Fahrenheit 451″ on this one?

    • Hey Now

      “…domestic abuse victims should stay in abusive relationships”.

      Uh, what?

      • Googamp32

        That was the basic message of “Seahorse Seashell Party”.

    • Carl LaFong

      Doesn’t he perfectly fit the description of at least 2 out of 3: successful businessman AND intolerant idiot? In his defense though, at least when he hosted the Oscars he didn’t make any cringeworthy jokes about Liza Minnelli being a transvestite.

    • Jason

      He’s 2 out of 3.

  • Roberto Severino

    Yep. Seth is everywhere. Nobody’s safe.

  • jhalpernkitcat

    I hope he never tries to write a kids book!

  • Inverse

    Seth MacFarlane writing a book? I wasn’t aware the man could piece together a coherent 6 word sentence, let alone write a whole book.

    Maybe before writing a book, he should concentrate on making either a cartoon or a movie that doesn’t suck, first. Because to this day, he’s accomplished neither accolade.

    • IJK

      Guess you’re not aware that he was a screenwriter for years before working on Family Guy?

      Don’t wanna spoil it, but you probably laughed at a bunch of his jokes on Johnny Bravo when you were younger.

  • Marbles471

    The same thought has crossed my mind. Living out in the old west must have been extraordinarily dull. That is, when it wasn’t full of backbreaking hardship…

  • Strong Enough

    i’m totally going to read this.

  • Carl LaFong

    …And then he changed his name to Bararina, apparently.

    • Bararina

      You can always tell when someone doesn’t have anything to say but still wants to be insulting because they always use the same joke: The only person who could be defending something must either be the person themself or work at the studio/company you’re insulting.

      I swear I think I see at least 50 of those whenever a less-than-average animated film is announced.

      Don’t worry I’m sure you’ll be able to actually justify your hate to him one day other than being spiteful and jealous that he’s popular off of making cartoons that aren’t on a Looney Tunes level.

      • John

        Baraina can you please explain how Ant G saying he is getting tired of Seth’s recent projects was suggesting he shouldn’t be successful.

        • Baraina

          Can you explain to me how that’s not the message?

          Saying “I’m getting tired of that guy” is basically saying I’m getting tired of seeing his work, meaning I’m getting tired of seeing him get opportunities which end up being successful.

          If Seth was still working and pitching shows but was not a producer at FOX and all of his shows got cancelled and was not as big as he was now, do you think Ant G would still be “tired of the guy”?

      • Carl LaFong

        Need a gig, do you?

    • DC

      Oh, you are fire tonight, Carl LaFong. Ba-doom-boom. And then Carl changed his name back to Brian, apparently.

  • Marie

    I’m always fascinated by the animation community’s discussion about MacFarlane because I can’t help but see him as the Tyler Perry of animation. Just like Perry divides the opinion of the black film community (I’m a huge critic of Perry’s work), the same appears true for MacFarlane (although I don’t want to diminish the fact that both worked hard for their success). In both cases, quality seems to be the main issue. The big difference between the two, though, and why I don’t feel the need to comment about MacFarlane’s work despite disliking it, is that unlike Perry, MacFarlane’s not the only choice in his niche. MacFarlane isn’t the only person making adult-oriented tv cartoons and coarse comedic films. There are other options. Perry, on the other hand, is the only filmmaker consistently making movies starring black women. This makes the mediocrity of his work even more glaring and disappointing. Ultimately, Perry’s work is motivation for me to write better stories. Hopefully, for those of us who dislike MacFarlane’s work, it will inspire us to make better animation.

    • Teletran1

      That is a very interesting honest take on the matter. I think that a lot of people of been so conditioned in accepting mediocrity, that it becomes a standard and the new normal that hurts art, the way it is consumed (disposable), and its impact on the society in which it suppose to represent (life imitating art). twitter: sataqtk

  • IJK

    I’m kind of surprised by some of the comments here who believe Seth is some intolerant jerkwad.

    I mean, sure he uses Family Guy as an outlet for his opinions and beliefs, but he does it mainly through Brian, and Brian is known in the show for being a tool so… He’s kind of making fun of himself in the process.

    Do people take Angry Video Game Nerd and Maddox’s opinions seriously as well? What about Louis CK’s stand-up, do they think that represents him as a person and it’s not just his opinions exaggerated for humor?

  • Doug

    I saw the trailer to this movie and was sort of appalled. Pretty much mean spirited, snarky, gross-out, throw filthy language in there for a laugh whenever you can type entertainment. Seth MacFarlane = lowest common denominator to me.

    • IJK

      What do you consider Aqua Teen, Robot Chicken, Superjail, Drawn Together and South Park? Is it fair to say Seth = lowest common denominator, or mean spirited, snarky, gross-out, filthy language = lowest common denominator? Cause you don’t really NEED to attach a name to it, you can hate the game without hating the player.

      You can hate his work but I always see these types of comments and I feel like it’s not that fair since the majority of adult animated shows do the same thing he does, but I don’t really see Seth Green getting flack from animators.

      • Doug

        IJK – I do hate the game and I see MacFarlane as emblematic of it.

  • Ca

    For me not being a big fan of the decline of Family Guy and/or his other work, I must say he’s doing it all. Kudos. Singing, acting, movies, television, writing, pretty much all my dream careers at once. Not bad for the guy who’s credits were once upon a time writing for Johnny Bravo.

  • Kris Åsard

    So, for all intents and purposes, this is about a novelization of an existing screenplay, to be released in accordance with the cinematic presentation. But they want it to “be treated as it’s own thing” because that would be more beneficial for them.
    Gotta love that attitude.

  • Funkybat

    I was intrigued when I read the headline, I was hoping that his first novel would be something completely unrelated to an existing project. Sounds like this is just an expanded version of his film script. I’d be more interested to see something written as a standalone thing, not at all “Family Guy,” “Ted” or “West” related.

  • Robert G

    The editor and chief of Ballantine/Bantam is high on something.
    ““We…want [MacFarlane's book] to
    be treated as its own thing,” she says, “not as a piece of tie-in movie
    merchandise.” How is that possible when the book has the same title as the film? If this isn’t a movie tie-in, then what is? The bottom line
    is big bucks: MacFarlane is a cash-cow and
    his fans will buy anything that has his name on it, and Ballantine
    bloody well knows it.