When comic books are brought up in conversation, most people think of the big two comic book publishers, Marvel Comics and DC Comics. Yet, true comic book fans know of the countless independent publishers that put out entertaining and sometimes off-beat comic books that aren’t just about superheroes, but most of the genral public never heard of them. That was until recently, when more and more popular TV shows were revealed to be based on independent comics.
Thanks to the popularity of films and TV shows based on superheroes from DC and Marvel, film studios, television channels and streaming services are now creating their next big superhero film or TV show. The problem for entertainment companies not called Disney or Warner Bros. is that film and TV rights for popular characters like Spider-Man or Batman are off limits. So what can they do to take advantage of the current superhero craze? These companies could create their own characters from scratch as we saw with Heroes and Chronicle. However, the companies do not have to this since there are so many superheroes from independent comic book publishers. What’s more, is that these independent comic books are great treasure troves for other types of genre material from sci-fi to fantasy to horror or a combo of all three.
There have been successful hit films or TV shows based on independent comics that came out years ago, Some examples that come to mind include The Mask (Dark Horse Comics), The Crow (Caliber Comics), and The Kingsman (Icon Comics), but the biggest hit television program based on an independent comic is course, The Walking Dead from Image Comics, the survival saga taking place during a zombie apocalypse. The runaway success of The Walking Dead prompted film and TV studios to mine other properties from independent comics. While these studios did not find the next zombie apocaplyse they found a diverse slew of properties that were begging to be adapted, and yes, this included superhero fare, as well.
Many of these properties are currently airing/streaming and have been well received. These include The Boys (Dynamite Entertainment), Invincible (Image Comics), Jupiter’s Legacy (Image Comics), Resident Alien (Dark Horse Comics), Locke & Key (IDW Publishing) and The Umbrella Academy (Dark Horse Comics). Part of the reason for the success of superhero-related shows like Jupiter’s Legacy or The Boys is because the shows are more graphic and mature compared to the more youth-oriented DC fare airing on The CW, for instance. In other words, they offer a different take on superheroes.
Thanks to the success of these TV shows, even more independent comics are in various stages of development. These include Paper Girls (Image Comics), Ice Cream Man (Image Comics), Port of Earth (Image Comics), Harbinger (Valiant Comics), Oblivion Song (Image Comics), Spawn (Image Comics), and BRZRKR (Boom! Studios). The latter comic book, about a prehistoric immortal warrior, seems to be tailor made for films or TV and it’s no wonder since Keannu Reeves co-wrote it. Any idea who would star in the upcoming television film adaptation from Netflix? The success only confirms that a well-crafted story formed in one medium will be able to crossover to another medium. In this situation, the comic book medium is a great place to find material that is ripe for adaptation.
Of course, there are so many other quality comic books that would make terrific films or TV shows. The list would be exhaustive but should include Saga (though the creators of the comic are not interested in having their sci-fi/fantasy epic being adapted), The Department of Truth, Geiger, Canto, Give Me Liberty, Stray Dogs, The Undiscovered Country, Concrete, Something is Killing the Children, and Astro City.
Thanks to the popularity and success of the live-action adaptations, more and more attention will be paid to the independent comic books. Surveyors will find an impressive and endless trove of reading material spanning a wide variety of subject matter.
It is nice to have options other than Marvel & DC! I enjoyed the adaptations of Locke & Key, Jupiter’s Legacy and Invincible. The other options you listed would be excellent possibilities too!
It’s nice to see that we have so many options now with more shows and films on the way.
At some point non-comic book fans will have to admit that the comic book medium has a rich variety of stories and characters.
Indi titles have brought a wealth of new stories and characters into the mainstream, especially now we are getting TV shows and movies based on them. Much as I love the stuff from the big two, the independent comic heroes are finally getting their share of the limelight with shows like The Boys, Jupiters Legacy, Invincible and many more capturing the imagination of a new generation of fans.
It’s about time the independent comics got their needed attention especially since for the most part they are putting out the best comics lately.
Frankly this competition and attention will be good for Marvel and DC so they won’t rest on their laurels and keep being creative both in print and film.
Great post, I’m personally still waiting for the mooted tv adaptations of Ed Brubaker/Steve Epting’s ‘Velvet’ and Greg Rucka/Michael Lark’s ‘Lazarus’ – are you familiar with either of those? I think they could be pretty awesome if done right!
Unfortunately Jupiter’s Legacy has been swiftly culled by Netflix – good job I haven’t started watching it (one thing less to check out)!
Haven’t heard of those, there are so many independent titles to read out there, it’s hard to keep up. I’m currently reading Crossed which may be too disturbing for a mainstream adaptation and Nuclear Family which is quite engaging.
As for Jupiter’s Legacy my feelings for it are mixed and since it’s been canceled and it ends on a cliffhanger I may not bother finishing it. But I’m on to Sweet Tooth which I’m enjoying so far.