My 10 Favorite Comics That Should be Considered for Adapting to TV and Movies
Good concepts that deserve wider audiences.
I know the headline is a bit of a mouthful, but what I’m trying to do here is pick ten amazing comic book properties that don’t have an active film or television deal or are in production hell. Hence, no Danger Girl, Ex Machina, Saga, Queen and Country, Thief of Thieves, Astro City, Sex Criminals, The Wicked + The Divine, and so many more. Also, no properties that have had a shot, failed, and deserve a second chance so no Powers, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Jon Sable, Global Frequency, the Losers, The Middleman, and so many others.
It is simply ten comic book properties that have not been optioned for another medium and deserve a look. Let’s go!
It is difficult describing the experience of reading Daytripper by brothers Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá. The comic revolves around Brás de Oliva Domingos, the son of a world-famous writer. Brás writes obituaries, but he wants to be a novelist. Each issue jumps around his life from a young boy to an old man, marks milestones in his life, and each ends with his death. At the end of the series, it all comes together beautifully.
This would make a wonderful ten-episode series on one of the streaming platforms. It has a perfect beginning, middle, and end.
Did you know there is a real branch of the military called The Activity? The full name is The United States Army Intelligence Support Activity, which is frequently shorted to The Activity. These men and women support special forces like Delta Force by gathering intelligence on the ground. They are more secret than the CIA.
The comic focuses on a team of operatives doing anti-terrorist work like snatch and grabs, surveillance device installations, figuring out how to help special forces, and usually fixing messes made by the CIA. No superheroes. No supervillains. Just real people doing secret work to keep us safe. This screams to be a TV show.
Casanova is a collage of a comic, mixing espionage, family drama, and multi-universal adventure in a sleek and sexy story. It is awesome, with more ideas flying at the reader than one can conceivably follow. It’s super-spy shenanigans with some dimensional hopping, evil twin stuff, mega-weird villains, and so much more. Writer Matt Fraction and the aforementioned Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá created a comic that is exactly what makes the medium so amazing. There is no need for a multi-million dollar special effects company to make that “thing,” just let the artists draw it.
This is the kind of concept that I’d love someone like Zach Snyder latch onto and craft into an ultramodern film. It features all the tropes Snyder loves, and his signature style would mesh perfectly.
They’re Not Like Us
Finally, some people with powers. This series (unfortunately unfinished) feels a lot like a modern retelling of the X-Men with some Runaways thrown in. People with special abilities get drafted by a mysterious telepath and brought to a giant house where others with special abilities live, and they are given nicknames/new identities. The biggest difference? They are all selfish assholes.
The concept is sound, so I think a television series about self-centered characters with no redeeming qualities can work. However, it does need someone the audience can identify with to make sense of this universe. There’s been a lot of “what if Superman was evil” stories. It’s about time for a “what if the X-Men were pricks” show.
A throwback to heroes like Doc Sampson and Flash Gordon, Rocketo features lots of comic book-type settings with straightforward yet complex painted panels and visuals. It is the adventures of Rocketo Garrison, the last known “mapper” of a future Earth shattered and now filled with weird bad guys and even weirder science.
Only twelve issues were made, and they would make a trippy, modern cartoon. If the animators could take the visuals from creator Frank Espinosa as the template, it would be groundbreaking.
A guy working for a super-secret spy organization wants out. He gets out and is on the lam for years. A setting like this works perfectly for a serialized story. The graphic novel by Patrick Neighly and Jorge Heufemann has the perfect opening and closing for the series. In the middle, think of all the storylines that could be mined.
Maybe our hero helps some of the locals. Maybe the locals help him escape the clutches of the super-secret spy organization. It would be a modern retelling of The Fugitive.
Left on Mission
A James Bond movie without, you know, James Bond. Mixing some of the storylines of the first Mission Impossible movie with Mr. and Mrs. Smith, this cinematic story would make a killer movie. The comic looks like storyboards for a movie, and that only enhances its appeal. Emma and Eric aren’t cardboard characters. There’s complexity and motivations that elevate this thriller.
The same group that put together The Old Guard movie on Netflix should take a good hard look at this property.
Howabout a super sexy Punisher? Paul Dini and Kenneth Rocafort created a sexy and mysterious anti-heroine killing criminals and doing it with style. Rocofort has one of the best pencils working in comics today, and his designs should be followed regarding any adaptation.
In this world, there are superheroes and supervillains, some actual metahumans, and some bio-engineered. The entire mystery of who Madam Mirage is central to the plot. With inspiration from The Shadow and other pulp heroes, this action-driven femme fatale would make for a dark and mysterious series.
A prestigious prep school hiding mysterious and potentially supernatural secrets? Count me in. Pulling from prep school concepts of the past with a little Lost and The Prisoner thrown in, Morning Glories has one of the best first issues. Nick Spencer wrote a mix of psycho-thriller, weird science fiction, and some creepy horror and added the obvious teen movie-style characters.
The main six characters are interesting, and the “school” has plenty of story potential. The comic book series has been put on pause, so the writer’s room of a potential TV series has plenty of material to make it unique.
What if we have a show like Oz, but with supervillains? You’d get Corrective Measures. I am entirely biased here because Corrective Measures was written by my friend Grant Chastain. We’ve seen movies and tv shows set in prisons, but few from the perspective of a security guard. Make the prison one for supervillains, and the potential for mayhem is sitting right there. San Tiburon Prison is a powder keg ready to explode with political maneuvering within the prison administration and dangerous gangs within the prison population.
At the center of the story is a new captain, Jason Brody, with a history of being just as dangerous as the criminals inside. If you like The Shield or The Wire, this is just like those shows with the superpowers added to the mix. It could be a movie, but it feels more like an ongoing TV show at a prestige streamer not squeamish about language, violence, and blood.
I’m sure someone will tell me that one of these properties has been optioned, but that’s a good thing! We are living in a golden age of adaptations of comic book properties. Let’s hope the powers that be want a few more.