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)

Latest News from Cartoon Brew