5 comic books that need their own TV series
As Marvel and DC insist on filling our linear and on-demand schedules with their countless superhero series, we wish the popularity of these mainstream adaptations would open the floor for more comic books to reach wide audiences as audio-visual programmes. With their serial and episodic formats, complex character development and topical subject matter, some of these titles lend themselves so well to the small screen that we can’t believe they haven’t been made already. So why not? It’s done well enough for The Walking Dead..!
1. Black Hole by Charles Burns
Set in the suburbs of Seattle during the mid-1970s, this Harvey Award winning, 368-page tome from master of dark realist sci fi Charles Burns is widely recognised as one of the great teen fables of recent times.
In a gorgeous inky black aesthetic, the story follows a group of teenagers as they go about their lives in typically teen ways; smoking, drinking, experimenting with drugs, skinny dipping in lakes, running away from home, and above all, spreading a sexually transmitted disease that results in hideous and alienating deformities.
Burns has said that the mutations can be read as a metaphor for adolescence, sexual awakening and the transition into adulthood; timeless themes that would make for a wonderfully compelling and unique series. American Horror Story‘s Evan Peters would take on the lead role of Keith Pearson, and we’d love to see someone like James Franco in the director’s chair.
2. Ice Haven by Daniel Clowes
His seminal Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron has historically been compared to the work of David Lynch, and Ghost World and Art School Confidential have made hugely successful transitions to the silver screen, but a more recent story by the man behind Eightball would just as brilliantly lend itself to a live action adaptation. The work in question, 2005 graphic novel Ice Haven, is an intricately executed tapestry of a town rocked by the disappearance of a young boy.
Ice Haven comes readily assembled with a host of intriguing characters revolving around a compelling mystery, including the out-of-town guest, the married couple of private investigators, the unreliable narrator, the introspective and wise-beyond-his-years classmate of the disappeared boy… Here are all the makings of the next Fargo.
3. Concrete by Paul Chadwick
This under-the-radar series published by Dark Horse Comics throughout the ’80s and ’90s somehow manages to be beautifully understated, considering it follows the exploits of a man whose brain has been forcibly transplanted by mysterious alien beings into a large stone body. Physically indestructible (for the most part), our eponymous character finds himself lending a hand in situations ranging from the quotidian to the extraordinary, whether it’s helping out with the manual tasks on a struggling farm, or giving teams of explorers piggybacks up Mount Everest.
While the look and ‘feel’ of Concrete would be a challenge to recreate for the screen (which may explain why the idea for a Concrete film with Bill Murray in the leading role was dropped during pre-production stages), the complex portrait of our frustrated hero, physically and emotionally trapped by his strange and singular circumstances, is unparalleled in any other literary work. We’d love to see Concrete’s experiences played out on our TV each week, and more people deserve to experience Chadwick’s genius.
4. The Strange World of Your Dreams by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby
Supposedly based on real dreams submitted by its readers, this Golden Age of Comics series by industry-leading superduo Simon and Kirby would make for an excellent modern take on the Twilight Zone / The Outer Limits TV genre. It’s uncommon to read narratives produced in the 1950s that are still so unpredictable in their twists and turns, yet this comic series certainly delivers its weight in shock value, while also communicating stunning and/or horrifying visual landscapes that we would love to see in 4K.
The Strange World of Your Dreams TV series would also benefit from the inbuilt format provided by fictional dream analyst Richard Temple, who introduces each cameo from his grand oak and leather furnished office. We’d like to see one of the networks pick up on this opportunity for a truly creepy and imaginative psychological venture.
5. Scalped by Jason Aaron and R.M. Guera
Set on a fictional Indian Reservation in modern-day South Dakota, this crime/western series is an epic masterpiece that would befit a TV format akin to HBO’s The Wire with its gritty exploration of organized crime, rampant poverty, drug addiction and alcoholism, local politics and the preservation of Native American Indian cultural identity.
U.S. TV could certainly do with some well developed native characters, and the superbly crafted roles in Scalped would perfectly answer the call. The story more or less revolves around Dashiell Bad Horse, who returns to the “Rez” as an undercover FBI agent after a fifteen year absence, is promptly arrested by corrupt local authorities, and taken to crime boss Lincoln Red Crow, who owns the newly opened Crazy Horse Casino on the Reservation and controls the Tribal Police. Breaking Bad‘s Danny Trejo would perfectly bring to life Red Crow, while Fargo‘s Zahn McClarnon could make an excellent Bad Horse.
Which comic books and characters would you like to see on your screen?
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