Mainstream premium TV shows are getting more genre based all the time. More than that they are become weirder, more adult and more ambitious. HBO has been leading the charge with Game of Thrones and West World, but we have had a bevy more. We now live in a world with Shows like Preacher, The Boys, American Gods and Good Omens, and that’s just from Amazon Prime. Throw in The Handmaids tale, Stranger Things, Legion as well shows coming soon like The Witcher, Sandman, Watchmen and His Dark Materials and you have a sea of content that will keep even the most discerning nerd happy. However, there is still so much great source material to be mined that would make great TV shows.
Here is our top 5 Comics that would make great TV shows:
Transmetropolitan (Writer: Warren Ellis / Primary Artist: Darick Robinson / Running 1997 - 2002). Ellis doesn’t have the most optimistic opinion of the future. He explores where we are and where we’re going as well as almost all of our faults in this 60 issue satire. The story centres around Spider Jerusalem, a future gonzo journalist or Ellis by way of Bill Hicks and Hunter S. Thompson. He’s angry about pretty much everything and he wants to expose the hypocrisy of the world. The overarching story becomes the sage of Spider vs. the person he sees as the embodiment of what is wrong, politician and eventual president, The Smiler.
The future cyber punk world is brought to life by the excellent art of Darick Robertson. It captures the essence of the zany, dirty, corrupt and relevant world. This is another piece of sci-fi that becomes more relevant as time goes by. The politics of the book are reflective of the time, but the corruption runs deep and I’m sure Spider would role his eyes in a post Trump world, shaking his head at the rhetoric and chest beating on both sides of the isle.
The world needs a live action Spider Jerusalem.
Planetary (Writer: Warren Ellis / Primary Artist: John Cassidy / Running 1998 - 2000). Where Transmetropolitan is a dark cynical Ellis, Planetary is his desire to explore the world of conspiracies and secret organisations. It’s centres round a mystery that runs through the ,majority the 27 issues, while many of the issues are actually one and done stories. The first arc introduces a world that is alive with analogues of the Fantastic Four, Godzilla and Doc Savage. It’s loaded with homages and Easter eggs, without ever being pandering or overly referential.
The titular Planetary, is a secret group that collects information of the weird history of the world. They start as bystanders and observers but become more entwined in the events at the story progresses.
Again Ellis is partnered with the perfect artist for the material, John Cassaday. His detailed, shadow filled art wonderfully fills the world with character and life. His art is measured for each scene. The intimate feels character driven and focused, while his splash pages are awash with crazy details. It’s a feast to enjoy on every page.
The potential to expand this and explore so many ideas, not just sci-fi but all genres and ideologies, world be amazing. This is an untapped well of potential that could rival the best cutting edge show.
The Invisibles (Writer: Grant Morrison/ Primary Artists: Steve Yeowell, Chris Western, Philip Bond / Running 1994 - 2000). We’ve recently had Doom Patrol from DC which used many of the ideas from Morrison’s run in the 90s. It’s weird, surreal and challenging while still being an action adventure. We’ve also had Legion which has challenged the reality and mental state of a primary character. These shows challenge the viewer to accept a lot of absurd things. This could be kicked up a gear in a live action take of The Invisibles. A group of reality rejects that are fighting an inter-dimensional war, possibly. It’s twisty, violent and weird in the best possible way. Morrison used this comic as a meta commentary and source of chaos magic for his life (seriously, check out the story of how he caught an illness he had given the character King Mob in the book, only to be cured when he cured King Mob in the comic).
The art in the book is provided by several artists across the volumes. Each brings something different to the series but all bring Morrison’s world to page, realising some bizarre stuff that has been mimicking to never bettered since.
This is one of those comics that has been placed on the ‘unfilmable’ pile. However, I’m convinced that the right team could produce something that would challenge viewers with its content, and how we interact with TV shows and it’s story lines.
Saga (Writer: Brian K Vaughn / Primary Artist: Fiona Staples / Running 2012 - on going) The others on this list are loaded with adventure, violence, intrigue and imagination but Saga brings those and heart. Primarily the story of a couple, warriors from opposing sides in an intergalactic war, and how they struggle to raise their child and settle to start their family. It grows from there to become an epic story spanning planets and years, and doesn’t scrimp of the sci-fi weirdness.
The expansive story telling is rounded out by Fiona Staples art. Staples has a realistic style which captures emotion and expression perfectly. Many of the characters have human faces and her style captures the nuances of emotions and relationships. However, it also means that when alien and weird elements are introduced they stand out but never feel cartoonish. Vaughn May have thought up the world but Staples realised it.
This would work excellently on TV as a character driven series. The comic forms a great foundation to work from, however Vaughn and Staples have created such a rich and textured world that more stories could be explored. This could be as complex as Game of Thrones and as much of a sci fi fantasy staple as Star Wars.
American Vampire (Writer: Scott Snyder / Artist: Rafael Albuquerque / Running 2010 - on going) The stereotype of the classic vampire is Eastern European nobility, usually looking like Bela Lugosi. Scott Snyder decided to examine the idea of what world happen if vampires were more influenced by the country they are from, what would be the American Vampire? The series starts in the old west and progresses through the 20th Century following the lives of several key vampires, providing an alternate take on some key events. However this isn’t a stale history lesson, Snyder brings the horror and the gore in spades. This idea and story is realised on the page with the art of Rafael Albuquerque. His scratchy gothic art style balances the detail and abstract to provide an perfect vision of this horrific under world, just a step away from the norm.
Being based around an alternate take on real history this story could explore so much. Yes, this would be a kick ass vampire horror tale, but it could also be used as an analogue to comment on modern issues; the immigrant experience, bigotry, mental illness etc. The potential for this show is awesome.