Comics, Film & TV

70 Movies and Shows Adapted from Indie Comics (Part 4)

Check out the final part of our massive list of movies and TV shows adapted from indie comics!

70 Movies and Shows Adapted from Indie Comics (Part 4)
Image: GONKBONK
By: Javier ReyesFeb 2, 2024, 9:10 PM

Here we are at the final part of our massive list that covers various films and TV shows adapted from indie and creator-owned comics! It’s been a long road to get to where we are now. We’ve seen everything from dark superhero stories to twisted tales of horror and suspense. It's a testament to how powerful of a medium comics can be when you take a step back and see just how much it has influenced other mediums. Regardless if the adaptation was a good one or bad, as there are a few of these on this list, the comics that inspired them offer a different experience that makes them worth checking out. After all, maybe you’re more into comics than you thought!

Before we get started, have you checked out the other parts of our massive list? There are plenty of titles out there to discover and you might have missed a few along the way. With that said, it’s time to see what’s in the final part of the list!

30 Days of Night

Adapted into a Movie in 2007 by Columbia Pictures

Comic created by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith

Published in 2002 by IDW Publishing

Genre: Horror, Thriller

30 Days of Night Movie and ComicsImage: IDW Publishing

Surviving the night against vampires is already hard enough. Imagine having to fend off a horde of vampires in Alaska when the sun doesn’t rise for 30 days straight. “30 Days of Night” sets a high bar for modern vampire comics because of its simple but terrifying premise. Ben Templesmith’s haunting artwork teleports you straight into a cold and eerie world crawling with horrifying monsters. While the film adaptation is not often talked about in “best horror movie” discussions, it delivered a solid thriller that was incredibly faithful to the dark and bloody story of the comics.

A History of Violence

Adapted into a Movie in 2005 by BenderSpink

Comic created by John Wagner and Vince Locke

Published in 1997 by Vertigo Comics

Genre: Thriller, Drama

A History of Violence Movie and ComicsImage: Vertigo

This comic tells the story of how one good deed leads to some dire consequences. “A History of Violence” is about Tom McKenna, a man who, after a brave act of vigilantism, attracts unwanted attention from local mobsters. The story delves into the dark past of a simple man who just wants to live a peaceful and quiet life. But, as the name suggests, what unfolds is a domino effect of increasingly violent acts. The film, directed by the legendary David Cronenberg and starring post-LotR Viggo Mortensen, brutally depicts the comics’ graphic violence and gripping narrative in vivid detail. This story is not for the squeamish.

Wynonna Earp

Adapted into a TV Show in 2016 by Syfy

Comic created by Beau Smith

Published in 1996 by Image Comics

Genre: Supernatural, Horror

Wynonna Earp TV Show and ComicsImage: Image Comics

The original Wynonna Earp comics are another classic case of “That’s so 90s.” Wynonna has big hair, big guns, and is big on graphic violence. The story follows the escapades of the titular character Wynonna Earp, the great-great-granddaughter of legendary lawman Wyatt Earp. But instead of hunting down outlaws, Wynonna faces off against inhuman monsters. While she was originally a bodacious blonde bombshell, Wynonna got a much-needed modern makeover for the 2016 TV adaptation for SyFy. With dark hair and a colder attitude, Wynonna’s adventures were reimagined in a style reminiscent of CW’s “Supernatural.” The revamp was so well received that it changed how the character is portrayed in the comics since then.

American Splendor

Adapted into a Movie in 2003 by Good Machine

Comic created by Harvey Pekar

Published in 1976 by Harvey Pekar

Genre: Drama, Comedy

Accolades: Nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay in the 2004 Academy Awards

American Splendor Movie and ComicsImage: Harvey Pekar

Who would have thought that the musings of an ordinary man would make for such compelling comics in the 1970s? Instead of superheroes and fantasies, writer Harvey Pekar’s “American Splendor” explored the mundane realities of everyday life in a raw and unglamorous style. And the best comic book character for that role is Harvey Pekar himself.

As meta as it sounds for a creator to turn themselves into a comic book character, it’s only natural for that story to turn into a film that delivers its own meta-narrative experience. Starring Paul Giamatti, the extraordinary film tells the life story of an ordinary man who made an ordinary comic about his ordinary life.

Daybreak

Adapted into a TV Show in 2019 by Netflix

Comic created by Brian Ralph

Published in 2006 by Drawn & Quarterly

Genre: Post-apocalyptic, Comedy

Daybreak TV Show and ComicsImage: Drawn & Quarterly

The funny thing about the post-apocalyptic zombie genre is that, despite the multitude of stories around, there are still so many different ways of dissecting it. “Daybreak” is the perfect example of this because the comic by Brain Ralph and the TV series by Netflix tell two completely different stories. While the show tells a more standard zombie story through the lens of a high school comedy, the graphic novel is a lighthearted adventure through a barren wasteland depicted entirely through a first-person perspective. As different as these two are, they capitalize on what’s fun about their respective mediums.

Ghostworld

Adapted into a Movie in 2001 by Advanced Medien

Comic created by Daniel Clowes

Published in 1993 by Eightball

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Ghostworld Movie and ComicsImage: Eightball

Daniel Clowes is one of comics’ most celebrated cartoonists for his poignant writing, witty sense of humor, and distinct visual art style. “Ghost World” is the perfect example of Clowes’ prowess over the comic book medium. Told through a series of short stories, “Ghost World” follows the teenage lives of Enid and Rebecca as they aimlessly navigate through the awkward phase of being too old to be a child and too young to be considered an adult. Its humor is keenly observational, deadpan, and lovably authentic. Instead of trying to make a 1:1 adaptation of the comic, the film focuses on staying true to the story’s characters and themes. Apart from being an interesting time capsule of late-90s to early-2000s American teen culture, it also stars Scarlett Johanssen in one of her earlier roles.

Invincible

Adapted into a TV Show in 2021 by Amazon Prime Video

Comic created by Robert Kirkman, Cory Walker, and Ryan Ottley

Published in 2003 by Image Comics

Genre: Superhero

Invincible TV Show and ComicsImage: Image Comics

Superhero comics are a dime a dozen and yet Robert Kirkman managed to create one of the best stories in the modern era outside of Marvel or DC. While “Invincible” plays within the rules of common superhero tropes, it stands out by subverting expectations of the genre. The comic is known for two things: Having a great cast of relatable characters and delivering intense graphic violence. Seeing the comic’s more gruesome scenes come to life on the TV series was something that shocked many viewers unprepared for what they were getting into. But as shocking as the comic can be at times, those moments don’t overshadow the incredible story being told.

Kingsman: The Secret Service

Adapted into a Movie in 2015 by Marv Films

Comic created by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons

Published in 2012 by Image Comics

Genre: Action, Comedy

Kingsman: The Secret Service Movies and ComicsImage: Image Comics

The quality of the work may vary, but Hollywood sure does love adapting Mark Millar comics. Kingsman is one of those comics that are tailor-made to be a movie. Its visceral action sequences, witty characters, and sleek spy aesthetic all come together for a sweet recipe for success. When it finally came time to hit the big screen, the story transformed into a stylish spy movie that landed a massive following.

It’s also fitting how the film stars Samuel L. Jackson. Comic book historians will remember that it was Millar, with artist Bryan Hitch, who created the Marvel series “The Ultimates.” It was that series where Nick Fury was reimagined with a look inspired by Jackson. And we all know by now how that turned out for the beloved actor.

Preacher

Adapted into a TV Show in 2016 by AMC

Comic created by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon

Published in 1995 by Vertigo

Genre: Fantasy, Supernatural

Preacher TV Show and ComicsImage: Vertigo

The Preacher TV series is one of those cases where it was always going to be under a microscope because of how beloved the comics are. While the show turned out solid with its delivery of bloody moments, dark humor, and gritty tone, it ultimately could not match the twisted storytelling that makes the comics such a fascinating experience. There are still hardly any other comics out today that can match the raw, provocative nature of Jesse Custer’s journey across America to find God. That’s just what happens when you get a dream team of Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon working together on a fantastic book.

Red

Adapted into a Movie in 2010 by Di Bonaventura Pictures

Comic created by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner

Published in 2003 by WildStorm

Genre: Action, Comedy

Red Movie and ComicsImage: WildStorm

On paper, “Red” has a pretty basic and straightforward storyline. The comic follows Paul Moses, an aging CIA operative forced out of retirement after his former employer botches an assassination attempt on his life. Hollywood saw this premise and took it as a chance to put together a star-studded cast with Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, and Helen Mirren and have them perform outrageous action scenes despite their age. Both the film and comic are fun, action-packed romps, with the comic being a tad darker and violent in tone.

The Old Guard

Adapted into a Movie in 2020 by Netflix

Comic created by Greg Rucka and Leandro Fernández

Published in 2017 by Image Comics

Genre: Fantasy, Action

The Old Guard Movie and ComicsImage: Image Comics

“The Old Guard” is about a covert group of mercenaries who have the power of immortality. Led by Andy, the soldiers have been fighting battles for centuries, watching modern civilization take shape because of their actions. The story explores the struggle of living a prolonged life and the burden of carrying such a strange gift. As much of a smash hit as the film adaptation was, it only scratched the surface of what makes the premise so compelling. The comics explore more about the team’s lives during ancient times. It showed how even bitter rivals who spent eons killing each other could eventually become lovers when given enough time.

The Empty Man

Adapted into a Movie in 2020 by BOOM! Studios

Comic created by Cullen Bunn and Vanesa R. Del Rey

Published in 2014 by BOOM! Studios

Genre: Horror, Thriller

The Empty Man Movie and comicsImage: BOOM! Studios

While his most acclaimed title is the Western series “The Sixth Gun,” writer Cullen Bunn is widely regarded as one of comics’ masters of horror. “The Empty Man” is his unique exploration of atmospheric horror and the power of spiritual belief. The story follows FBI agents tracking down the mystery behind strange murders with connections to an urban legend known as “Empty Man.” Little do they know, the violent spirit becomes more powerful the more people believe in its legend. The concept of a supernatural being that slowly spreads its influence eventually found its way to the big screen in a film that has gained a strong cult following.

Timecop

Adapted into a Movie in 1994 by Largo Entertainment

Comic created by Mike Richardson

Published in 1992 by Dark Horse Comics

Genre: Sci-Fi, Action

Timecop Movie and ComicsImage: Dark Horse Comics

Awesome name. Awesome actor. Awesome film. It’s also very different from its source material. While the premise of a time-traveling police officer remains intact, the comic’s story is a lot less Hollywood in its execution. Instead of stopping a politician from altering timelines to advance their political career, Timecop Max Walker travels back to the 1930s to prevent a thief from robbing diamond mines in South Africa. The story escalates when the thief reveals he brought a killer robot along with him and Timecop must take it out before more people get hurt. It’s easy to imagine why the killer robot subplot didn’t make its way into the 1994 film adaptation starring Jean Claude Van Damme.

V for Vendetta

Adapted into a Movie in 2005 by Silver Pictures

Comic created by Alan Moore, David Lloyd, and Tony Weare

Published in 1982 by Vertigo

Genre: Action, Thriller

V for Vendetta Movie and ComicsImage: Vertigo

As fantastic as the film is, the original “V for Vendetta” comics created by Alan Moore and David Lloyd is a different beast entirely. While both versions share the core theme of rebellion against a fascist authority, the graphic novel takes a more nuanced approach to its storytelling and world-building. Moore's writing blurs the line between good and evil by crafting characters who truly believe their actions are for the betterment of their country. This dynamic adds more weight to the characters’ actions and motivations, whether it’s V’s anarchistic plots or Chancellor Susan's iron grip on his people. It’s gripping to see how the different characters’ stories play out in the comics.

Cowboys & Aliens

Adapted into a Movie in 2011 by Universal Pictures

Comic created by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg

Published in 2006 by Platinum Studios

Genre: Western, Sci-fi

Cowboys & Aliens Movie and ComicsImage: Platinum Studios

From the title alone, you can already get an idea of what you’re getting into with this one. “Cowboys & Aliens” mashes together the sensibilities of the Western genre with the outlandish aesthetics and concepts of science fiction. It takes the alliance between cowboys and Native Americans to stop the invading force of brutish aliens. It’s a shame that such a fun-sounding concept didn’t translate well onto the big screen. Despite having James Bond himself, Daniel Craig, in the lead role and Jon Favreau directing, the film couldn’t capture the same eccentric energy that made the comics a cult classic.

The Last Days of American Crime

Adapted into a Movie in 2020 by Netflix

Comic created by Rick Remender and Greg Tocchini

Published in 2009 by Image Comics

Genre: Action, Thriller

The Last Days of American Crime Movie and ComicsImage: Image Comics

While Rick Remender may not be known as a seasoned crime-noir writer, he knocked it out of the park with “The Last Days of American Crime.” The story unfolds in a crime-ridden world where the U.S. government plans to broadcast a special signal that makes it impossible for anyone to break the law. On the eve of this new world order, career criminal Graham Bricke devises one final heist before the signal goes live. Through the work of artist Greg Tocchini, the comic paints a world that feels grimy, vibrant, and dynamic.

As compelling as that sounds, all the character that makes the comic stand out is lost in the film adaptation by Netflix. It takes the unique concept of the story but executes it like just another generic heist movie. If you’re someone who loves crime stories, you’re much better off just reading the comics and skipping the movie.

Bulletproof Monk

Adapted into a Movie in 2003 by MGM

Comic created by Brett Lewis and Michael Avon Oeming

Published in 1998 by Image Comics

Genre: Action, Superhero

Bulletproof Monk Movie and ComicsImage: Image Comics

Don’t let the starring role of Seann William Scott in the film adaptation fool you, “Bulletproof Monk” was hardly a comedy in the comics. The story follows a hard-boiled, nameless monk’s journey throughout the world in search of a martial artist worthy of passing down a scroll that holds the key to unlimited power. He faced off against a slew of thugs, warriors, and even soldiers looking to take the scroll for their gain. Overall, it’s a pretty straightforward action comic that’s filled with thrilling fight scenes that are reminiscent of classic Hong Kong Cinema.

The Sandman

Adapted into a TV Show in 2022 by Netflix

Comic created by Neil Gaiman

Published in 1989 by Vertigo

Genre: Supernatural, Drama

The Sandman TV Show and ComicsImage: Vertigo

What more is there to say about Neil Gaiman’s Sandman? It’s long been considered one of the best comic book series ever for its mesmerizing world-building and beautiful storytelling. Fans debated for a long time whether it was even possible to adapt it into a film or TV show. But as bold of a challenge as that was, Netflix managed to pull off bringing the beloved series to the small screen. While some aspects of the comics' nuanced storytelling didn’t carry over too well onto the show, Tom Sturridge delivered an undeniably perfect performance as the lead role of Morpheus.

From Hell

Adapted into a Movie in 2001 by Underworld Pictures

Comic created by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell

Published in 1999 by Top Shelf Productions

Genre: Thriller, Mystery

From Hell Movie and ComicsImage: Top Shelf Productions

There was a time when Hollywood was obsessed with adapting Alan Moore’s works, despite his vocal disdain for them. The original graphic novel “From Hell” by Moore and Eddie Campbell is a fictionalized retelling of events surrounding the murders committed by Jack the Ripper. Rather than just being a straightforward thriller, the comic delves deep into the socio-political climate of the era, exploring concepts about class, sexual politics, and the horrors of London's history. Through Moore’s bold script and Campbell’s haunting art, the comic bends our understanding of history and fiction. Then when it comes down to its film adaptation, its story is reduced to a simplified thriller centered on catching one of history’s most notorious killers. It’s not a bad film, it just pales in comparison to the meticulously crafted story that it’s based on.

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