In my last semester at IU, I took a few writing courses and one literature course in which we studied “The Poetry of Comics.” It is one of my favorite classes I’d taken and I find myself thinking about the material learned more so than other classes I’ve had. One thing I remember very well is how everybody in the class enthusiastically praised the Watchmen graphic novel and collectively scoffed at the film adaptation. It’s not that it’s a bad movie, we agreed, but it wasn’t as true to the source material as we would have liked to see. Zack Snyder seemed to beef up the heroes to the point of “superheroes” when that’s not what the story was supposed to be.
That made me think of how the adaptation process for a graphic novel may not be quite as simple as just copying the frames and dialogue; it’s more about capturing the feel of the novel. Therefore, I’ve come up with five graphic novels that would make extraordinary films (or series), and how best to capture what makes each novel great.
- Black Hole
- This novel is weird. It’s so weird that it would best be made by somebody whose aesthetic matches that of a David Cronenberg or Tim Burton given that he’s not making the film for Disney. Giving it a strange sort of coming-of-age vibe would juxtapose the two very nicely, allowing for the commonplace drama to stand out just as well as the grotesque effects of the STD-like virus that sweeps its way through the school.
- Similar to Grave of the Fireflies, you could make a great animated film for adults that centers around tragic events; this time, about Nazi concentration camps. You could even take a different approach: make it for kids and have all of the tragedy be indirect, just focusing on the characters who come in and out (and don’t come back) of the story. There are a lot of ways to approach it but having the same mouse-rat analogical comparison is the most important part, the rest of the elements will fall into place given that their relationship is made clear.
- This one I’m a little less concrete on; I’ve started to read Out from Boneville but I haven’t finished yet. All I can think of, however, is how flippin’ great a 3D animated series this novel would make. The unfortunate aspect is that if the first film doesn’t make a lot of money, then the rest will not be made and nobody will want to touch the project for quite some time. Therefore, making a television show similar to The Last Airbender would be the best bet. Longer form, with less of a need to cut out parts of the story would be best for this series. Just make it silly and fun, and then dark and sinister; similar to Lord of the Rings, but in an animated-fashion.
- Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth
- This is the hardest one to mess up: make an emotional indie film similar to American Splendor about a guy who is down on his luck, is stuck in a boring job, and hates his life in pretty much every way. The audience will connect with it pretty easily and as long as the casting is great (it’s more of a character-study than a plot-progression type of novel), you’ve got a movie that could win Oscars. The most important part, though, is the tone. It’s gotta feel lonely and hopeless at times.
- Everything, in the Style of Spider-Verse
- I’m cheating on this last one. I was going to pick “Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic,” but my reasoning would be more like “Jimmy Corrigan,” and I wanted to keep things fresh. The reason I just now decided to pick “Anything as long as it’s made like Spider-Verse” is because you can really make anything happen if you animate it and keep the aesthetic of the original work. If you can make Spider-Verse feel like a comicbook, then you can make a Watchmen movie like nobody has ever seen. Your Black Hole series would be like the pages had come to life. Bone would be about the same, but Jimmy Corrigan could be animated to look just like the comicbook character — casting would be nearly irrelevant. There’s so much you can do, and it’s not like animating it would take away audience members like animating prose novels would (Harry Potter wouldn’t be nearly as big), your audience would most likely be as big as possible.
So, there are my ideas for what comics would make great movies, and how best to make them. However, I’m by no means a comicbook expert (or even much of a fan compared to the other things I watch and read), so I want to hear from the real comicbook fans. What would make a great movie? Preferably, either something I haven’t mentioned or something that hasn’t been attempted before. Thanks ahead of time!
As always, it’s been a pleasure having you here and I hope you enjoyed my content. I’ll see you soon!