?AMC’s The Walking Dead broke viewing records for the cable network and also gave viewers a few things they might not have known they were looking for — namely long-running zombie stories and TV shows based on comics normal people have never heard of.
We’re assuming in the grand tradition of Hollywood believing that if something works once, it’ll works several thousand more times, that the networks will start combing non-Marvel and DC comics for more potential TV hits. And they’ll likely start looking at Image’s back catalog for new properties to exploit first, since that’s where The Walking Dead came from. To hopefully streamline the process for the comics ignorant junior assistants Hollywood executives will surely send to the comics store looking for the next big hit, we’ve put together this list of five Image comics that would make for good television and five that are better left alone (although that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re bad comics, as you’ll see).
?Originally created as a 6-issue mini-series by writer Jonathan Ross and artist Tommy Lee Edwards, Turf‘s mix of of 1920s gangster setting, aliens and vampires would offer the perfect jumping off point for a network with a good deal of money to spend. HBO’s Boardwalk Empire has a similar setting and shows like True Blood and The Event have proven that there’s an audience for this kind of material. Why not combine it all in one place? Sure the comic’s obscure and only a miniseries, but that could work in the show’s favor for the types of fans who were following along to The Walking Dead premiere with the trade, checking off scenes and waiting for the good parts.
?Networks love procedural dramas, but with all the major cities as well as the various levels of law enforcement are covered in the many different shows of this genre, what new ground can be broken? How about a show featuring a vice cop named Tony Chu who has the ability to essentially taste psychic leftovers on anything he eats? Pretty damn original, no? That’s what the comic world seems to think of John Layman and Rob Guillory’s Chew, the book that came out of nowhere and became a gigantic hit. There are only a year’s worth of issues out right now, but with a good writing staff and Layman working as showrunner/producer, we think this quirky series would catch on pretty quickly.
3) The Amazing Joy Buzzards
?Okay, this one might be a stretch, but Amazing Joy Buzzards would make an awesome show. The comic, by Mark Andrew Smith and Dan Hipp, features a rock band touring the world and fighting supernatural threats, kind of like The Impossibles meets, well, Supernatural. There’s no reason that Biff, Stevo and Gabe couldn’t be the next big thing on television, especially if they got some legit musicians to craft songs for the band to perform on their world-hopping exploits, which they have no idea are actually being orchestrated by the CIA. Sounds more interesting than Undercovers, doesn’t it?? Oh, they also have a Lucha Libre genie on their side, what more do you want?!
2) Violent Messiahs
?Remember what we said about procedural dramas? Violent Messiahs is about a couple of cops trying to bring in the vigilantes of Rankor Island with names like Family Man and Citizen Pain. We’re on the fence about this one because the original comic by Josh Dysart, William O’Neil and Tone Rodriguez was pretty violent and had a distinct mood to it that we’re not 100% sure can be captured on TV. But, hey, if Dexter can work, why not Violent Messiahs?
1) Morning Glories
?Morning Glories‘ mix of teen drama and sci-fi mysteries make it perfect for a television landscape in need of more clever shows to fit both genres. The comic, written by Nick Spencer and drawn by Joe Eisma, only just premiered in August, but also carries a huge amount of buzz. Think of it as Gossip Girl meets Heroes, which might not sound super appealing to hardcore geeks, but probably has the ring of dollar signs to TV networks. We’d suggest doing this one as a miniseries in the same vein as the new Prisoner or Persons Unknown, so as not to stretch the idea out too much.
Dear TV execs — please stay away from the comics on the next page.
NO NEED TO MAKE THESE, SERIOUSLY:
?Don’t get us wrong, we’re not saying that Invincible is a bad comic. By most accounts it’s a great comic, one right up there with Kirkman’s other big deal book Walking Dead. For the few of you who don’t know, Invincible stars Mark Grayson, a teenager who discovers that he not only has super powers but that he’s connected to an alien race called the Viltrumites. A coming of age story featuring superheroes created by the guy who also created the most popular show on television might seem like a good idea, but we’re not so sure any network could do the story justice with a regular TV budget (see: Smallville). We recommend going the movie route with Invincible to do it up right.
?Unlike Chew and Violent Messiahs, we wouldn’t recommend going the procedural route with Fell, which was written by Warren Ellis and drawn by Ben Templesmith. A few years ago, Fell was Image’s big, out-of-nowhere success story, but the problem is that it died out without much resolution. Sure, there’s nine issues to draw inspiration from, which could give high quality TV writers enough to build on, but we don’t think there’s a network that can match the dismal location Ellis and Templesmith created for the fictional Snowtown, nor its more oddball denizens like the prostitute-loving nun. Ellis’ comic RED got turned into a movie that did surprisingly well, so we wouldn’t be surprised if Fell got a look too. This is another one that might work better as a movie, because capturing Templesmith’s essential moody, gritty and sometimes terrifying art as moving pictures didn’t really work so well in his other comic-to-movie 30 Days of Night.
?We’re really not trying to pick on Kirkman here, but we’ve seen how these things work out. Success with one property kicks off a bloodhound-like search for other projects that person has worked on regardless of quality. Which brings us to Haunt, the book Kirkman dreamed up with Spawn creator and baseball enthusiast Todd McFarlane who inks the book and draws covers while Spawn alumn Greg Capullo draws interiors. Haunt features a priest wrapped in his dead secret agent brother’s soul which gives him super powers, powers he’s using to find his brother’s killer. As if McFarlane’s involvement slowing a project down wasn’t enough of a 90s flashback for readers (it was announced two years before the first issue came out), the book also sounds a lot like Spawn — someone comes back from the dead with a mission wearing a funny suit — and looks a lot like Spider-Man. Basically what we’re saying is that there’s a lot of other, better comics out there that deserve more exposure.
?A studio flipping through the Image catalog might see that Spawn‘s still being published, remember the movie or possibly the HBO animated series and assume there’s a built-in audience for bringing this character back to television (certainly creator Todd McFarlane thinks so, as he’s been swearing another TV series is in the works for the last several years). We implore them to please ignore those previous entries — though the cartoon had some pretty good moments — and just let the festering, rotting corpse of Spawn continue to do so in comic shops and not bring it back into our homes. That book has turned into such a convoluted mess and we haven’t talked to anyone who actually reads Spawn since 1998, so we’re not exactly sure who’s buying them.
?If one Image zombie comic worked, as a TV show all the others must work too, right? Well, probably not. We love XXXombies writer Rick Remender (Punisher, Fear Agent), cover artist Tony Moore and interior artist Kieron Dwyer, but this book probably wouldn’t make it on any channel aside from late night Cinemax. See, those “Xs” in the title aren’t just a creative way of spelling, they indicate that the book is filled with zombie porn stars and a porn director trying to round up zombie celebs for his future videos. This seems like the kind of thing a network would option without really paying attention to the content, like when ABC made a Clerks cartoon not realizing that two of the main characters were drug dealers. We’d actually love to see XXXombies made, but the whole premise feels a little more “edgy independent movie” feel than “weeknights at 9:00” even on pay network.