Normally, I don’t want this column to talk about comic shows. I mean, I’ve made my love for The Flash known, I think Legends of Tomorrow looks pretty decent and even Arrow can be good when it’s trying to be Arrow. I wanted this column to firmly be about comics and the industry. So, while I will be talking about the pictures in the box that move and talk, it will still be in context to the comic industry, where it’s at and where it’s going. I’m sure no one will get upset at this.
So, Southern Bastards has been optioned for a television show on FX. It was chosen by the producer of such movies as True Grit and The Social Network and comic creators Jason Aaron and Jason Latour are going to be on the show as Executive Producers to help work on the adaptation. With that kind of pedigree, I must be ecstatic that one of my current favorite creator-owned books is making the leap into television, right? Well, yes of course, but this does further cement a thought I’ve been having for a while:
Boy, it seems like the comics industry is becoming a giant drawing board for other mediums.
I mean, aside from the titanic superpower of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and DC’s attempts to replicate the success, you’ve had many a creator-owned book being optioned. More specifically, you have many a creator-owned book being optioned very early in their runs. Southern Bastards, The Wicked + The Divine, Sex Criminals; all of these and more have been optioned for potential shows before any of them hit ten issues (yes, technically WicDiv was announced after issue #10, but these deals don’t happen overnight and was probably in secret for months).
So, what has me nervous? I mean, Game of Thrones is a book adaptation and that series isn’t done. While true, one must remember, you can back a lot more content in a novel than in one graphic novel. It’s taken five seasons for HBO’s adaptation to, by it’s trope name, “Overtaking the Manga”, meaning an adaptation reaching the point of published original material and then going past that. And anyone that reads those books can tell you, they are dense and could’ve gone on for five more seasons if HBO didn’t cut a lot out. While comics are of course capable of such density, it makes me curious to see what would happen when these potential shows “overtake the manga”.
That’s not even getting into deals like those with Descender, which got optioned for a film before issue #1 was even released! Before, you know, anyone in the general public knew if it was good or not! This brings out the massively cynical side of me because I now kind of have to question creator’s intent: Did you create this comic because you thought it would be a good comic, or did you create this in some cynical attempt to create a multimedia franchise? (what one of my friends has called “The Mark Millar Effect” for it seeming like every book that he makes these days being optioned for a movie)
Again, maybe I’m just being a cynical fearmonger, but what scares me is that this trend will continue and that we’ll have a whole slew of creators coming into comics, but only doing so to try and sidestep their way into the tv/movie industry. It just comes down to the mentality that people seem to have that tv/film is the “superior” medium and that you can’t really affect people unless you adapt your book into such. It’s kind of why I respect the hell out of Brian K. Vaughn. I may have criticisms of some of the man’s work, but I do respect the hell out of his adamancy that the beloved Saga remain a comic.
I am not against making money. I am not against the adaptation of one medium into another. But I, being the hippidy-dippidy “do it for the art” kind of person, am against an entire medium of creative expression becoming subservient to another and being sucked dry in the name of ye’ olde capitalism.