Friday, April 10, 2009

film2comics - or - comics2film

You hear in films today how this or that character or story was originally found in a graphic novel. You have seen in comics a trend towards licensed books, where a comic can sell to a ready made audience with further stories in a particular world or with a particular character. But in film you almost never see a direct to film take, outside of 300 or Sin City, however in comics the direct novelization of a film has often flopped in the comic market. So while film takes liberties and does well, comics take what has been done and places it on paper, to poor sales. Why is this? Well I am sure there are many reasons, such as the desire to sell a comic to people who wouldn’t normally be in the audience, but that is unlikely. I mean, you don’t see Woody Allen novelizing his movies into comics. There is no Sleeper the comic, nor the Further adventures of Sleeper. The comic audience is rather galvanized towards male power fantasy. If a movie doesn’t possess those qualities, it won’t be adapted to comic form. But direct adaptations mean that the work in comic form is already likely a comic character. And a film to develop and adapt a character or story, needs to have creative control over the work. So comics are forced, if they wish to make money, to develop the concept further, whereas in film, they have almost always taken liberties to tell the story they want. It clearly isn’t a two way street.

But I am not unhappy there. The Daredevil movie was in itself fun, but didn’t really get why Daredevil is so awesome a character. The novelization would be telling a story that was wrong by the standards of the comic world. So what is good in terms of adaptations? In both directions I think Sin City and 300 were great. But there is little else I think this of.... except...

M the film by Fritz Lang was interpreted, sequentially and to the panel, directly, by Jon J. Muth. The comic was as beautiful and haunting as the movie was painful and disturbing to watch. I’ve truly never seen a better marriage of concept and page.

You may be able to order it through your comic shop. It is a beautiful book.


nilskidoo said...

Isn't Jon J Muth married to the daughter of Louise and Walter Simonson?
He is fantastic. His painting can be photo-realistic, but he has dabbled in traditional line art, in pages of the Sandman as well as a Galactus mini way back. He also tried another property character- A comic readaptation of the Crow, when TMP had bought Eclipse and struck a deal with Top Dollar productions- the studio that then owned the Crow property.
Muth actually had a hand in the literal rewriting of the original James O'Barr tale.

kurt wilcken said...

Most comic book adaptations of movies are regarded as souvenirs, like the plastic toy in the Happy Meal or the Hannah Montana backpack. In most cases, the writer and artist working on the adaptation have an early version of the script, and maybe a few still to use as reference; there isn't time to do a really good adaptation.

I can only think of a couple instances where a comic book was created to actually continue the story of a movie. The STAR WARS comic was fairly good. And back in the day, Jack Kirby did a surreal version of 2001 A SPACE ODDESSY which went beyond the movie and went in a completely different direction.

nilskidoo said...

Kurt- Marvel also had a continuing Indiana Jones comic in the early/mid 80's.
Some of the last work from the awesome Gene Day.

I'll tuck my geek back in now.

alex-ness said...

Let us not forget Aliens, Predator, AvP, nor RoboCop nor Terminator.

nilskidoo said...

Aside from Newt's tale, most of the Dark Horse stuff has been expansions on the premise, same baddies but not directly continuing the movies.
Although, I think some of the assorted Star Trek titles from different publishers over the years have tried to fill in gaps in the overall chronology. The Nightmare on Elm Street series from Now Comics back when did that too.

kurt wilcken said...

Okay, more than a couple.

nilskidoo said...

No, Kurt- you're still totally validated, because how many of these licensed comics really rated?
Buffy: Season 8 may be the first that matters. I hear there is Angel stuff too from IDW but I have not yet checked it out. I have no intentions of checking out the John Byrne Angel mini in the works.

I think as far as straight film to comics adaptations go, the very best ever that I can think of was the Dune graphic novel, from Macchio (who I believe worked from the afore-mentioned script and stills) and Sienkiewicz (who can do no wrong). It was a perfect translation, word for word.

Though the novel was way better than Lynch's take. (and the syfy crap can crawl right up Harlan Ellison's fat ass for all I care)