The recent news about the apparent failure of the John Carter movie (which even I, a die-hard Michael Chabon fangirl [he wrote the script], have no interest in seeing) has me thinking about comic book movie adaptations—and adaptations of movies into comic books.
The latter is actually more interesting to me–comic book movies, of course, are reliably good and/or silly, depending on the characters and the directors involved, and are a tried-and-true movie institution–but the reverse move is a little more unusual. I’ve seen quite a few tie-in comics through the years–there’s a whole cottage industry of Star Wars comic books, for instance, but there are also tie-ins for things like Charmed (a tv show that went off the air years before a comic book version came out), True Blood, and Alien vs. Predator.
One of the most successful tie-in comic books is the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series, which picks up where the television show leaves off. The first eight volumes of stories were actually marketed as Season Eight of the show, and now the story is on season nine. Comic books are a lot cheaper to produce than tv shows, especially when things like vampires are involved that require special effects, so Joss Whedon and his team have a lot more room to get crazy with the storylines–which they definitely have done.
Comic book companies have also attempted to get in on various book/movies crazes like Twilight and Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. A Dragon Tattoo graphic novel was just announced, and Twilight has been adapted into a two-volume manga version (it’s very pretty, but the story makes even less sense than the original book and movie do).
A more successful example is the Avatar: The Last Airbender comics. First published was a book called “The Lost Adventures,” consisting of the comics that ran in Nickelodeon Magazine when the show was originally airing. And now a two-volume series called The Promise has started (the first volume is out, the second will be out in June), to bridge the gap between the original series and the spin-off, Legend of Korra, that premieres April 14th (and if you haven’t watched the original series yet, it’s on Netflix Instant and is very much worth watching). The Lost Adventures are fun, but The Promise has a lot of, well, promise. The first volume was really strong and I can’t wait to see how it wraps up. I am also REALLY looking forward to Legend of Korra—watch the trailers online—it looks like it’s going to be great.
This week’s recommendation: Beasts of Burden, by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson. You may not believe me when I tell you that a series about a group of dogs (and a cat) battling evil supernatural forces is worth reading, but IT IS. Thompson’s art is amazing—you just want to cuddle all the dogs—and the story is surprisingly compelling—and creepy. This was in my top 10 of 2010.