Tuesday, June 12, 2007

From Screen To Page: The TV Shows And Movies That Are Becoming Comics

Joss Whedon is one of the greatest television writers that ever worked for the big Networks. He's also one of the greatest writers to pen mainstream superhero titles for the big two comics publishers. No surprise, then, that his Buffy 'Season 8' comic book series is proving successful - in just about every sense of the word.

And it may prove to be setting a new par

Talking to The Toronto Star, Rob Thomas has let on that DC Comics want to publish a 'Season Four' of Veronica Mars. The Buffy model must have been in mind - there's a common conception, anyway, that Mars is the new Buffy (but if that were entirely true, surely it'd swap networks for a few more seasons before heading to print?)

Looking at Rich Johnston's Lying in the Gutters yesterday, I saw a piece of art created for a proposed Reanimator comic book. House of Reanimator has had some famous trouble in finding funding, so maybe the route to the printed page has been similar here also - a makedo or an attention spinner when the cash for a screen hasn't been forthcoming.

What's more, there's the prospect of Virgin Comics producing a series of graphic novels (at the very least) based upon unproduced Terry Gilliam projects. Oh... and more Star Trek: Original Series... and the countless projects that have already happened in synch with still ongoing series, from Alias to 24 to CSI.

All in all, it looks like comicbooks are becoming a kind of Limbo for rejected film and TV projects. And let's face it, that's what these projects are: rejects. Buffy Season 8 on TV: rejected. Veronica Mars Season 4: rejected. More Reanimator: rejected. The Defective Detective, Time Bandits 2, The Minotaur: rejected, rejected, rejected.

The potential audience for a comic book is massive, but any realistic projection is not. Has any given issue of Buffy Season 8 been read by anything like the number of people who saw any given episode of the TV show? Of course not. So, the die-hards amongst the numbers, the web-savvy, forum trawling, Browncoat wearing, comic-friendly geekcore, they're going to prove big enough a potential audience base to give comics a shot.

When comics make the transition to the big screen, more often than not there's a kind of smoothing down - which is not necessarily to say a dumbing down. It seems like the geekcore are more open to the idiosyncratic (say, a big purple man with a funny helmet instead of a cosmic cloud of black and grey dirt) and even, it seems to me at least, they expect, want, and sometimes plead for this kind of wild, abandoned fantasy. As such, going from TV to comics, I think, might afford some previously off-limits 'craziness' to occur. Veronica Mars Season 4 might just go into some uncharted territory, push its own limits a little more readily, be less concerned with wide audience expectations and just play into the hands of the geekcore more.

So, perhaps, in a parallel universe Slither wasn't a movie but a comic book, Snakes on a Plane was a comic book, Death Proof and Planet Terror were comic books, Serenity was a comic book and they each did very, very well. They'd each be seen as far greater successes.

But I don't like that universe so much. I like the one where they are all movies just fine thankyou - most of them are very fine films indeed. I can cope with them being not that popular - in fact, I'd expect some of them to be downright unpopular - but I wouldn't want them to stop being films and get forced into a comic book just so they'd be less of a commercial viability.

But, on the other hand, I'm glad that comics have helped people like Greg Pak get attention where their films didn't.


Adam said...

There is already a RE-ANIMATOR comic book. And a RE-ANIMATOR VS ARMY OF DARKNESS comic.

CEG said...

A bit too negative towards the comic reading community.

Brendon said...

Really? Why?

I am a member of the comics reading community.

Brendon said...

Reanimator vs. Army of Darkness? Was that any good? At all?

As I said, there are countless previous spin-offs. The new paradigm seems to be 'can't get it on screen, make it into a comic'.

Anonymous said...

I've got the whole Re-Animator vs Army of Darkness series (it's short) and I must say that, while inconsistent, there's some good fairytale stuff in there (imagine Alice in Wonderland where everything's been re-animated) and the artwork is fairly special.

I thought I was going to hate it after the first two issues, but it redeemed itself.