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Comics That Should Be TV Shows
The past years has been the golden age of comic book adaptations coming to TV. There are currently 21 television series based on comic books currently airing, 8 more picked up for at least a pilot, and 14 more in development. The reason there are so many properties from what initially was thought to be niche is the diversity of stories represented in comics. For instance, a show like Supergirl is nothing like Preacher though both are DC Comics properties. In comics and graphic novels, there are stories about superpowered aliens, genetically mutated humans, post-apocalyptic zombies outbreaks, vampires, magic, secret agents, and every type of story imaginable under the sun. Initially, this was a list of five until I found out Y: The Last Man, a story about a man and his pet monkey being the only two males on earth of any species and Runaways, a story about a group of young people who find that their parents are a piece of a sinister organization known as The Pride, were in development. Of the 3 comics, I went with one is Romeo and Juliet in Space. Another is Friday Night Lights meets Son or Anarchy and the other is Hunter S. Thompson on steroids.
Transmetropolitan (DC Comics)
Transmetropolitan was a 60 issue series written by warren Ellis that chronicled gonzo journalist Spider Jerusalem ( inspired by Hunter S. Thomson) and his hunt to expose the truth through any and every avenue. With the help of Yelena and Channon, who he deemed his filthy assistants, Jerusalem tackles everything from crooked politicians to conspiracy theories on his fact-finding missions. For Spider, it didn't matter who got in the way as long as the citizens of "The City" knew what was really going on.
As a cyberpunk graphic novel, Transmetropolitan deals with modern political issues in a grounded way. Its extensive plots are perfect for a serial style TV show. Transmetropolitan has a visceral and satirical in style of storytelling. Ellis holds nothing back and no plot goes too far. As with most of the properties on this list, premium channels are probably the only option but AMC may be able to adapt as they have had a track record with shows like Preacher and the Walking Dead both of which are gritty comic adaptations.
Transmetropolitan manages to be funny, real, and harsh all simultaneously. It doesn't just tackle the faults of politicians but also those of the civilians. It manages to be ruthless and maintain relatability. In the lead character Spider Jerusalem is an anti-hero who is a very flawed with demons of his own, but you still believe in. The series offers twist and turns that keeps it compelling and a format that perfect for tv, including a plot twist ending.
Southern Bastards (Image Comics)
Southern Bastards is a crime drama set in fictional Craw County, Alabama about Euless Boss a high school football coach who is also a local crime lord. When Earl Tubbs son of the town's former sheriff returns to see Boss in control a battle ensues.
Written by Jason Aaron with the art of Jason Latour Southern Bastards is a tense and angry and heavy on the southern stereotypes. It puts you in right in the heart of Alabama with each page having you feeling like it's a humid 90-degree day. Aaron calls "Southern Bastards" a "love letter/hate rant to The South" and "'The Dukes of Hazzard' by the Coen Brothers." in a USA Today interview.
It has some of the superhero comics tropes but on a small more realistic scale and in the two main characters it may be hard to root for either but you do sympathize a little when you learn the backstories. Southern Bastards isn't funny at all. It's heavy and violent much like the tone of the Walking Dead but always compelling. A network like FX whose may be looking for something to feel the void left by Son's of Anarchy would be a good fit for this adaptation.
Saga (Image Comics)
From the mind of hall of fame, comic writer Brian K. Vaughn comes an epic space opera/fantasy comic book series called Saga. In the series Alana and Marko, a couple from warring species are on the run from those trying to stop them from being together. Not only are they trying to get away from the war and protect their child but they are also trying to stay alive in the process.
Many have described Saga as Star Wars mixed with Game of Thrones, as a matter of fact, that is how it was pitched to Image Comics. That comparison isn't too far off. Saga is a story with a galaxy full of creatures, spaceships, and magic. There is a war between the horned people of the moon Wreath and the winged people from the planet Landfall that span across the entire galaxy. The merciless Prince Robot IV and The Will a bounty hunter are entrusted with the task to hunt down Alana and Marko. I can see how one would get the "in a galaxy far away" feel but unlike Star Wars, there isn't a light side and dark side and our heroes aren't trying to take down an empire. Alana and Marko aren't your typical benevolent heroes either they just want to be left alone and allowed to live and love how they want.
The greatness of Saga is that it manages to have a world steeped in the weird and abstract with characters that have human bodies and spider legs, seahorse people, child ghosts with missing legs, magic spells, and television head people to name a few yet their characterization and actions are genuine. Vaughn writing allows for great character development and his signature splashes of comedy.
The problem with Saga being adapted is budget any network that would take it on would have to be willing to spend a lot of money. Fiona Staples vivid and world building visuals would require a good amount of effects both CG and practical. When Vaughn created the story he wanted to put everything that was either too dirty or too expensive for TV or movies. “I guess I wanted to make something that if people were looking at this and going ‘Is this something we can option?” they would close it right away and say ‘This is not for us’ Vaughan told The Hollywood Reporter. I can see a network like HBO or a streaming service like Netflix could have that budget and not be restricted by censorship take a chance on it though it seems unlikely at the time.
Saga is a series that if you like fiction you should be reading and I hope in the future someone will take a risk and bring this incredible story to life in live-action form. It would be great to see The Lying Cat live-action. If they never do at least you have the fantastic comics.