Monday, April 27, 2020

16 Comics Overdue for an On-Screen Adaptation (and Why)

The below article was written specifically for my application for the position of content creator for Ranker.  If you're a hiring manager, coming to this blog after receiving my resume, welcome! Might I say you look lovely today. :)

In no particular order...
16 Comics Overdue for an On-Screen Adaptation 
(and Why)
American-Born Chinese (by Gene Luen Yang)

What it’s about: This semi-autobiographical account of Gene Luen Yang’s childhood centers around a Chinese-American boy struggling with his identity. It’s a coming-of-age tale that mixes three stories simultaneously to reflect the character’s struggle with resolving his own multi-faceted life.

Why it’s overdue: The themes are timeless, but what really stands out is how this graphic novel incorporates externally experienced racism with internalized racism. It offers a window into the life of a modern-day immigrant and how integrating into a new culture looks and feels.

What would be perfect: One or two seasons of a live-action TV show, which fits nicely with one of the three stories; the “American” viewpoint is presented as a sitcom, complete with laugh track.

The Goon (by Eric Powell)

What it’s about: The Goon is a huge, hulking, ugly mug living in a film noir universe that is populated with zombies. A mob enforcer, he and his plucky sidekick, Frankie, engage in cartoonishly violent fights with sinister characters ranging from undead, flesh-eating preachers to magician-assistant harpies.

Why it’s overdue: The Goon has long had a cult following and a cadre of fans desperate for a movie, but the graphic nature of its content always got in the way. With the success of films like “Deadpool,” that’s no longer a hurdle.

What would be perfect: An animated feature-length film, presented as a violent adult comedy.

Beasts of Burden (by Evan Dorkin and artist Jill Thompson)

What it’s about: The only thing standing between supernatural evil and a quaint suburban town are its pets. A group of dogs (and the occasional cat) investigate and confront ghosts, spirits, and witches in a series that calls to mind a fluffier version of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer.

Why it’s overdue: Supernatural shows are in a golden era, with Riverdale, Sabrina, and Stranger Things all capturing people’s attention by making the hairs on the back of their necks stand up. Beasts of Burden gives us spooky feels, but does it with cuddly animals.

What would be perfect: A hand-drawn series on a streaming service, in the style of Disney, but much darker.

Hawkeye (by Matt Fraction)

What it’s about: Hawkeye, of course! But not the one you’re probably familiar with. Clint Barton lives in a New York apartment as a schlubby hero, fighting human bad guys and struggling with issues such as doing his laundry and running out of coffee.

Why it’s overdue: Matt Fraction’s version of Hawkeye is a fully realized character, not the butt of every Avengers joke. He’s the “bow and arrow guy” we know and love, but with relatable human flaws and a wicked sense of humor.

What would be perfect: A live-action show, preferably with Jeremy Renner. Good news! This series is actually in development by Disney. Bad news? It’s not expected for release until 2021.

Johnny the Homicidal Maniac (by Jhonen Vasquez)

What it’s about: This ultra-violent comic made by the creator of Invader Zim was a look into the life of a homicidal maniac named Johnny. It’s never entirely clear whether his violent murders are a compulsion he has due to a mental deficiency, or whether he’s doing it because he’s forced to by the eldritch horrors lurking just behind the wall in his basement. Either way, Johnny’s gleeful killing sprees were always cathartically and irreverently fun.

Why it’s overdue: The people who grew up reading JTHM are now adults. JTHM was an edgy comic for teens back in the ‘90s. Now grown, it would be exciting to see it adapted for its grown-up fans who have fond memories of trying to hide their copies from Mom.

What would be perfect: A black-and-white, ominously animated web series.

Pride of Baghdad (by Brian K. Vaughan and Niko Henrichon)

What it’s about: The true tale of the 2003 bombings of Baghdad is told from the point of view of the lions who escaped and roamed the city. It’s a standalone graphic novel depicting war from a viewpoint other than that of the humans, and it’s poignant, sad, and beautifully illustrated.

Why it’s overdue: CGI is now capable of rendering lions worthy of the art of “Pride of Baghdad,” and the Middle Eastern conflict remains in living memory. It should not be forgotten.

What would be perfect: A film for theaters in the realistic CGI styling of Disney’s remake of “The Lion King.”

Fritz the Cat (by Robert Crumb) 

 (Poster from the 1972 movie)

What it’s about: This classic from the ‘60s was an adult comic about a bunch of cartoon animals. The titular Fritz is a wise-cracking, smoking, womanizing jerk who struts about New York solving crimes in the grooviest of eras. Think of it like Austin Powers, but with a cat.

Why it’s overdue: Fritz the Cat was hugely influential in its time, and had a feature-length film in 1972. With adult cartoons being all the rage in the 21st century, and Bojack Horseman’s Meow Meow Fuzzyface being out of work, there’s no reason for a show about a sassy cat detective not to go viral.

What would be perfect: An multi-season animated series on Netflix.

Gambit: King of Thieves (by James Asmus)

What it’s about: Gambit is many people’s favorite member of the X-Men. A card-exploding telekinetic mutant who lives in the Bayou, Gambit was always the cool guy that Cyclops could never hope to be. In “King of Thieves,” Gambit goes on a series of heists that feel like the love child of Indiana Jones and Ocean’s 11.

Why it’s overdue: Gambit’s only appearance was as a supporting character in one of the less popular X-Men films that was centered around Wolverine (X-Men Origins). He never got the screen time or back story he deserved. A Gambit movie was in production and scheduled for a 2020 release, starring Channing Tatum, but that production was halted when Disney and Fox merged.

What would be perfect: A full-length, live-action Marvel feature film.

A Contract with God (by Will Eisner)

What it’s about: A series of vignettes by Will Eisner (of the Eisner awards) and published in 1978 features Jewish immigrants living in turn-of-the-century tenement buildings in New York.

Why it’s overdue: As we enter 2020, it’s a good time to reflect on our past. The roarin’ twenties are here again, and it’s worth a look back to see what life was life was like a hundred years ago.

What would be perfect: A non-fiction movie done in “roto” animation, released to a streaming service online as an original.

Tank Girl (by Alan Martin and Jamie Hewle)

What it’s about: Tank Girl and her friend, a mutant kangaroo, go on various punk- and anarchy-themed adventures in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. In the 1995 film, Tank Girl stands up against corrupt government officials who are controlling a scarce water supply.

Why it’s overdue: Tank Girl was an instant cult classic when it was released in 1995, but it was way, way ahead of its time. Let’s reboot it in an era when comic book anti-heroes and post-apocalyptic settings are all the rage!

What would be perfect: A live-action theater-released movie.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (by Ryan North)

What it’s about: The plucky and unbeatable squirrel girl possesses the ability to talk to squirrels. Think that’s not a very useful superpower? Think again! This ongoing series follows Squirrel Girl as a college student who moonlights as a superhero, facing such villains as Galactus and Ratatoskr, the demon-squirrel of Norse legend.

Why it’s overdue: Squirrel Girl has been seen on screen a number of times, but has yet to really make her mark in the Marvel universe. After the intensity of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, fans are in the mood for some palate-cleansing stand-alone pieces that are a little lighter in spirit.

What would be perfect: A CGI animated, theater-released movie, like Spider-man: Into the Spiderverse.

West Coast Avengers (by Kelly Thompson)

What it’s about: They’re not the original. They’re just a tribute. With Clint Barton trying to lead a rag-tag team of quirky, off-brand characters like Kid Omega, Gwenpool, and America Chavez, these hapless heroes blunder around Los Angeles in a loving, tongue-in-cheek homage to their east coast counterparts.

Why it’s overdue: Marvel may be the indisputable champion of live-action superhero movies, but they have often overlooked the fun simplicity of animated comedy. With DC rolling out Harley Quinn, it’s clear there’s a void to fill for this publishing giant.

What would be perfect: An adult animated comedy series, like Harley Quinn.

Patsy Walker, AKA Hellcat! (by Kate Leth)

What it’s about: Patsy Walker is Hellcat, but her story is less about her being a superhero (or Satan's daughter-in-law) and more about her being a person within a superhero world. It’s an incredible world-building comic set in the Marvel universe. We got one episode of “AKA Hellcat!” in the Netflix series Jessica Jones, plus some cameos in Luke Cage and The Defenders, but there’s enough Patsy Walker content for its own series.

Why it’s overdue: Marvel fans are craving more, and Patsy Walker has the potential to do what Agents of SHIELD was meant to do: flesh out the Marvel world with details the fans are desperate to see.

What would be perfect: A live-action series on Netflix.

Sweet Tooth (by Jeff Lemire)

What it’s about: After the Affliction, humans are born as animal hybrids. These anthropomorphic animals live in a gloomy end-of-the-world situation with a rural backdrop. Gus, a half-human, half-deer, teams up with one of the rare fully human characters to try to help solve the origins of the plague.

Why it’s overdue: People seem like they can’t get enough of anthropomorphic animals exploring humanity (Bojack Horseman and Beaststars being two examples), and that’s “Sweet Tooth” in a nutshell.

What would be perfect: An offbeat animated web series.

Y: The Last Man (by Brian K. Vaughan)

What it’s about: In a post-apocalypse world, all the men have died off from a sudden, bizarre incident in 2002. Only one remains. The series follows Yorick as he navigates a world where he is suddenly the most important and infamous character in it.

Why it’s overdue: Post-apocalyptic settings are always interesting, but this one really stands out because not everyone is dead. Just the men. It’s an exploration of gender roles and expectations, and it’s fantastic at world building.

What would be perfect: A multiple-season, big-budget live action series like AMC's The Walking Dead.

Rat Queens (by Kurtis J. Wiebe)

What it’s about: Four women team up as assassins-for-hire, witches, and general badasses. They roam around a rat-infested town causing trouble, fighting trolls and otherworldly beasts. It’s like a D&D adventure come to life, and we are here for it.

Why it’s overdue: This is a great example of a female-centered comic done right. It’s a team full of Harley Quinns who have great chemistry together, and it’s fun, feminist fantasy that’s easily accessible for anyone to enjoy.

What would be perfect: A CGI online movie, limited theater release.

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