By: Javier ReyesAug 25, 2023, 2:51 AM
Welcome back to our deep dive into movies and TV shows adapted from indie and creator-owned comics! Coming from part 1 of our list, we only scratched the surface of titles out there that secretly have roots in comics. In this part of the list, we cover several titles comic book titles that date back to the 80s and older. It goes to show that the impact of comics is not just a modern trend, but something that’s been known for a very long time. From North America to Europe, comics have been used as a medium to tell fun and powerful stories that can inspire readers for decades. And there's still more to come as we have part 3 and part 4 of our list to look forward to. Let’s dive right into the list and see what other titles there are to discover!
Asterix and Obelix
Adapted into a Movie in 2023 by Les Editions Albert Réné
Comic created by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo
Published in 1959 by Dargaud
Genre: Comedy, Adventure
Along with Tintin, Asterix is one of the most iconic and enduring European comic series in history. The comic’s main characters are Asterix, a smart and shrewd warrior, and his best friend Obelix, an oafish menhir deliveryman with super-strength. Throughout the series, the duo embarks on various adventures, both within Gaul and in far-off lands, facing off against the Romans, meeting historical figures, and confronting various comical challenges.
The enduring popularity of "Asterix" comics led to their adaptation into various animated and live-action films over the decades. Among the most notable live-action adaptations are "Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra", "Asterix at the Olympic Games," and most recently “Asterix & Obelix: The Middle Kingdom.“
I Kill Giants
Adapted into a Movie in 2017 by 1492 Pictures
Comic created by Joe Kelly and JM Ken Nimura
Published in 2009 by Image Comics
Genre: Fantasy, Drama
Image: Image Comics
“I Kill Giants” is the story of Barbera, a young girl who’s enamored by the world of Dungeons & Dragons. She is obsessed with the idea of being the sole protector of her town against an incoming force of giants that want nothing but to wreak destruction on her people. While there’s nothing wrong with a little make-believe, her fantasies slowly seep into real life, affecting how she perceives the world and others. What unfolds is a touching story about self-discovery and the bravery it takes to face off against the things that scare you the most. The 2017 film adaptation captured the comic’s unique take on magic realism while making the giants appear larger than life.
Adapted into a TV Show in 2015 by The CW
Comic created by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred
Published in 2010 by Vertigo
Genre: Comedy, Crime, Horror
iZombie is about the peculiar afterlife of Gwen Dylan, a zombie who consumes brains and takes in the memories of those she feeds on. She uses those memories to solve the mysteries behind their deaths. The world of the comic is eerie and fantastical, as it's filled with other supernatural creatures like ghosts and vampires.
The iZombie TV series, however, has the unique case of being so different from the original comics that it might as well be considered an entirely different property on its own. Instead of Gwen, the lead character is Liv Moore, a medical resident turned zombie who also solves crimes by using the memories from the brains she eats. The similarities end there, but that does not make it a bad thing. While the show is lighter on the supernatural elements, it is presented more like a procedural crime drama that’s fun, comedic, and full of juicy drama.
Locke & Key
Adapted into a TV Show in 2020 by Netflix
Comic created by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez
Published in 2008 by IDW Publishing
Genre: Horror, Fantasy
Image: IDW Publishing
Created by horror mastermind Joe Hill, “Locke & Key” is the story about the Locke family and their connection to magical keys created from the bodies and spirits of demons. Lurking deep within their home, the Keyhouse mansion, is a dark entity desperate to harness the powers of the keys and escape from its prison. The fantastical tale was adapted into a TV series by Netflix in 2020. The show, while preserving the key elements of the comic’s story, offers a slightly more accessible tone, catering to younger audiences.
The Men in Black
Adapted into a Movie in 1997 by Colombia Pictures
Comic created by Lowell Cunningham and Sandy Carruthers
Published in 1990 by Aircel Comics
Genres: Sci-fi, Action, Comedy
Image: Aircel Comics
Arguably one of the most iconic popcorn flicks of the 90s was “Men in Black” starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. Even by today’s standards, the comedic chemistry between the two stars is unmatched. It’s interesting to look back on the comics that inspired films and see how their stories were much darker. More than just blasting aliens, Agents Jay and Kay took on a whole suite of supernatural monsters like vampires and demons. Considering they cast Will Smith for the movies, it’s no surprise the story went in a more humorous direction.
Adapted into a Movie in 2023 by Netflix
Comic created by ND Stevenson
Published in 2015 by HarperCollins
Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, Comedy
Starting originally as a webcomic created by ND Stevenson, “Nimona” has been capturing the hearts of readers with its wholesome story about a plucky shape-shifter who dreams of being the trusty sidekick of a supposed supervillain. Set in a world that blends sci-fi and fantasy, the comic weaves together a whimsical and hilarious tale that explores themes of identity, queerness, and heroism.
Fans waited a long time for the comic to be adapted. Which is something that almost didn’t happen. After years of being stuck in development hell, Nimona was revived by Annapurna to finally release on Netflix in 2023. Just like the titular shapeshifter, the film looks very different from the source material but the spirit of its story is intact.
Adapted into a Movie in 2019 by Netflix
Comic created by Victor Santos
Published in 2012 by Dark Horse Comics
Genre: Action, Thriller
Image: Dark Horse Comics
Created by Spanish cartoonist Victor Santos, Polar is a spy thriller centered on the exploits of international hitman Black Kaiser. The comic stands out for its minimalist approach to storytelling, characterized by its sleek art that only uses black, white, and splashes of orange for coloring. The bloody and stylish series caught Hollywood's attention, culminating in a 2019 film adaptation by director Jonas Åkerlund. But despite having the always amazing Mads Mikkelsen in the lead role of the ruthless assassin Black Kaiser, the film fell flat and was relegated to being called another “John Wick knock-off.”
Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World
Adapted into a Movie in 2010 by Marc Platt Productions
Comic created by Bryan Lee O’Malley
Published in 2004 by Oni Press
Genres: Comedy, Action, Romance
Image: Oni Press
Few comics can match the big nerd energy that flows out of every page of the Scott Pilgrim series. It’s got references to films, comics, video games, and everything in between. All within a story about a guy who must fight through the league of evil ex-boyfriends to win over the girl of his dreams. It took the immensely creative mind of director Edgar Wright to bring the colorful world of Scott Pilgrim into the big screen. It was a treat for long-time fans to see near 1:1 recreations of many of the comic’s most memorable scenes captured on film.
How to Talk to Girls at Parties
Adapted into a Movie in 2019 by HanWay Films
Comic created by Neil Gaiman, Fabio Moon, and Gabriel Ba
Published in 2016 by Dark Horse Comics
Genres: Sci-fi, Romance
Image: Dark Horse Comics
Originally a short story written by Neil Gaiman in 2006, “How to Talk to Girls at Parties” was adapted into a graphic novel together with the all-star artist duo of Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba. In true Gaiman fashion, the comic blends magic realism with sci-fi to tell a story about two men who go to an unforgettable party and meet women who are out of this world. The comic is short, sweet, and brimming with incredible art. The film adaptation starring Elle Fanning and Alex Sharp broadens the original comic’s narrative by exploring the magical relationship between Enn and Zan beyond the fateful night they met at the party.
Adapted into a TV Show in 2019 by ABC
Comic created by Greg Rucka and Matthew Southworth
Published in 2009 by Oni Press
Genres: Crime, Drama
Image: Oni Press
You can never go wrong with a crime drama written by Greg Rucka. Set in the chaotic streets of Portland, Oregon, “Stumptown” follows the complicated life of Dex Parios, a sharp-tongued private investigator who doesn’t play by the rules and is knee-deep in debt. Over the years, the comic has been regarded as a cult classic for its modern and grounded take on classic detective storytelling. Fans of the comic were delighted to see Cobie Smulders bring the wise-cracking nature of Dex’s character to life in ABC’s TV series adaptation. Much like what the comic accomplished, the show offered a refreshing spin on the procedural detective genre. It’s just a shame the show only got one season before it was eventually canceled.
Adapted into a TV Show in 2021 by Netflix
Comic created by Jeff Lemire
Published in 2009 by Vertigo
Genres: Fantasy, Post-apocalyptic, Adventure
Over his near-twenty-year career, Jeff Lemire has proved himself as a powerhouse of a creator with his massive body of work across every major publisher in North America. With so many great titles under his belt, arguably the one sitting above them all is the heart-wrenching story about a young boy born with deer antlers trying to survive a post-apocalyptic world. In the vein of stories like “The Last of Us” and “The Road,” Sweet Tooth is anchored by the relationship of two unlikely survivors in a harsh and destroyed world.
The TV series adaptation takes the core concepts of the story but presents it in a more light-hearted way. Because of Lemire’s now iconic art style, the comic depicts a world that’s grim and ruthless. A stark contrast to the vibrant and whimsical depiction in the tv series.
Adapted into a Movie in 1995 by United Artists
Comic created by Alan Martin and Jamie Hewlett
Published in 1988 by Deadline
Genres: Sci-fi, Action
"Tank Girl" chronicles the wild escapades of its titular character, a mohawked, irreverent punk rocker who drives a tank and lives for anarchy in a dystopian Australian wasteland. The comics are celebrated for their unique blend of humor, punk aesthetics, and social commentary. The essence of this madcap world was captured in a 1995 film adaptation starring Lori Petty. While the movie faced challenges in mirroring the comic's frenzied spirit and was met with mixed reviews, it has since gained a cult following, admired by fans for its quirky characters and offbeat sense of style.
The End of the F**king World
Adapted into a TV Show in 2017 by Netflix
Comic created by Charles Forsman
Published in 2013 by Fantagraphics
Genres: Fantasy, Drama, Romance
Two teenagers, one road trip, and… lots of murder? Created by Charles Forsman, “The End of the F**king World” follows the lives of James and Alyssa as they embark on their strange journey of self-discovery. While Alyssa dreams of rebelling against her problematic family, James is gripped by his intrusive thoughts of committing heinous murder. As violent as that all sounds, the story is juxtaposed brilliantly by Forsman’s iconic, cartoonish art style.
The gloves are off, however, for its live-action adaptation for Netflix. The show captures the essence of comics while further developing the characters and depicting the murder scenes in gruesome detail. It’s a fun ride if you love some black comedy mixed in with your stories about teenage angst.
Adapted into a TV Show in 1994 by Fox and 2016 by Amazon Prime Video
Comic created by Ben Edlund
Published in 1986 by New England Comics
Genre: Superhero, Comedy
Image: New England Comics
Just like his namesake, The Tick is a character that creeps up on you as one of the most surprisingly beloved superheroes in history. Along with his trusty sidekick and accountant Arthur, The Tick protects The City from the most bizarre villains imaginable. Whether it’s the 1994 animated cartoon written by creator Ben Edlund or the two live-action series from 2001 and 2016, every adaption of The Tick has embraced the absurdity of the original comic books. It’s a testament to the character’s undeniable charm that a comic book character nothing like the heroes of Marvel and DC has been adapted in some way three times since debuting almost forty years ago.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Adapted into a Movie in 2017 by EuropaCorp
Comic created by Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mézières
Published in 1967 by Pilote
Genre: Sci-Fi, Action
Known originally as "Valérian and Laureline," the comic is a seminal French science fiction series about the intergalactic adventures of a space-time agent and his intelligent and fiercely independent partner from medieval France. Together, they traverse time and space, engaging in daring missions and encountering a myriad of alien civilizations.
Being a work by known French director Luc Besson, the film is notorious for being a bombastic visual spectacle that’s weighed down by its confusing narrative and uncharismatic performances.
Now it’s time to check out Part 3 of the list! Missed out on Part One? You can check it out here! Then keep an eye out for Part 4!TAGGED: Creator Owned
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