Comics, Film & TV

Dark Movies and TV Shows Adapted from Indie Comics

Explore the dark corners of comic book adaptations with a range of titles spanning from spine-chilling supernatural horrors to blood-soaked slasher flicks.

Dark Movies and TV shows
Image: GONKBONK
By: Javier ReyesJan 31, 2024, 1:51 AM

It’s not always superheroes and crime-fighting when it comes to comic book adaptations. Dig deep enough through titles and you’ll find some beautifully twisted stories out there to be explored. In this list, we explore movies and TV shows that have roots in comics that have dark and twisted stories to tell. Keep these titles bookmarked for when you’re in the mood for a hauntingly good time.

Then if you’re curious about more movies and TV shows adapted from indie comics, check out our massive, four-part list that breaks down titles that have jumped from pages onto screens.

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 CoversImage: IDW Publishing

It doesn’t get much darker than a story that never sees the light of day. Set in the furthest reaches of Alaska, “30 Days of Night” is the story of a small town’s fight for survival against a horde of monsters who are free to feed and terrorize to their cold, dead hearts’ content during a 30-day-long polar night. Ben Templesmith’s ethereal artwork brings to life a world that’s haunting, bloody, and surprisingly whimsical. With such a simple yet clever premise, it delivers one of the most intriguing vampire stories in both comics and movies.

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 CoversImage: Vertigo

Preacher is easily one of the quintessential mature comic book series to read. With its graphic violence, blasphemous storytelling, and rebellious attitude, it pushed the boundary of what many thought was possible within the pages of a comic book. Nowhere else are you going to find a comic that has a villain as terrifyingly tragic as Arseface? If you’ve never read the comic or watched the show yourself, then know that name belongs to a character who looks much worse than you’d expect. The story delivers a flavor style of black comedy that’s both horrifying and captivating.

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 CoversImage: BOOM! Studios

Don’t miss out on this one. Both the comics and the 2020 movie have developed a cult following among horror fans for their dark and surreal depictions of supernatural concepts. It’s poetic, in a way, because the story is about the mystery behind a string of chilling murders connected to an urban legend known as “The Empty Man.” Without giving too much away, the story delves into cult worship and the terrifying power of mysticism and tulpas. Every version delivers a slow-burn, supernatural horror story that creeps deep into your mind and keeps you guessing at every turn.

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 CoversImage: Top Shelf Productions

“From Hell” is an interesting case within the realm of comic book adaptations. The film, starring Johnny Depp and Heather Graham, is a blood-soaked thriller centered on finding the identity and catching one of the world’s most notorious killers in history. Meanwhile, the original graphic novel by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell is a thoughtful analysis of the socio-political climate during Victorian-era London. The comic boldly explores topics of class disparity, sexual politics, and skeletons that lie deep within London’s history.

Outcast 

Adapted into a TV Show in 2016 by Cinemax

Comic created by Robert Kirkman and Paul Azaceta

Published in 2014 by Image Comics

Genre: Horror, Drama

Outcast CoversImage: Image Comics

While all eyes are on Invincible these days, it’s easy to forget that Robert Kirkman made a name for himself as a horror mastermind. “Outcast” was the creator’s foray into supernatural horror. The story follows the life of a man haunted by demonic entities ever since his childhood. He uses his connection with the dark world to help others just like him and uncover the truth behind supernatural occurrences. With art by Paul Azaceta, the comic was dark and atmospheric in its exploration of living in hell on Earth.

Random Acts of Violence 

Adapted into a Movie in 2019 by Elevation Pictures

Comic created by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray

Published in 2010 by Image Comics 

Genre: Horror, Thriller

Random Acts of ViolenceImage: Image Comics

It’s fitting that such a twisted comic inspired by slasher films eventually got made into one in real life. “Random Acts of Violence” is the story of a ruthless serial killer who faithfully recreates the murders from his favorite comic book, “Slasherman.” For slasher film fans, this one is a sleeper hit because of its grotesque kills shown throughout the movie. While there are some narrative changes from the original comic, director Jay Barushecl adds some terrifying twists to the film that are a sight to behold.

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

The End of the F**king World CoversImage: Fantagraphics

Don’t let this series’ teenage coming-of-age story fool you, “The End of the F**king World” gets dark in ways you wouldn’t expect. Created by the incredible alt-comics writer Charles Forsman, TEotFW follows the lives of teenagers James and Alyssa. The two set out on a road trip to escape their toxic lives at home and discover more about themselves. The problem is that James is secretly a psychopath with uncontrollable urges to kill people. So, on top of all the usual heartfelt road trip hijinks, the story is filled with gory murders.

Sin City

Adapted into a Movie in 2005 by Dimension Films

Comic created by Frank Miller

Published in 1991 by Dark Horse Comics

Genres: Noir, Action

Sin city CoversImage: Dark Horse Comics

Whether you’ve seen a page of the comic or even a still from the movie, what stands out about all versions of Sin City is its beautiful art direction. Robert Rodriguez masterfully painted a world that’s both dark and stylish by adapting Frank Miller’s stark black-and-white art. And as bold as it is to do on film, the adaptation depicts the graphic violence the comics are known for to a tee. From the splashes of red blood to Yellow Bastard’s notoriously bright skin, the splashes of color throughout the film emphasize the grim atmosphere that lurks throughout Sin City.

The Maxx

Adapted into a TV Show in 1995 by MTV

Comic created by Sam Kieth

Published in 1993 by Image Comics

Genre: Fantasy, Superhero

The Maxx CoversImage: Image Comics

The Maxx is an oddity of a series because it came at a time when the comic book industry was going through its biggest creative turning point during the mid to late '90s. But unlike its more “extreme” contemporaries, The Maxx went on a much darker path with its themes and storytelling. Instead of simply punching bad guys in the face, the comic explores the psychological traumas of its main characters. The Maxx, Julie Winter, Sara, and even the demented Mr. Gone are all broken individuals who are connected by a mysterious alternate reality known as the Outback. It’s there where they can be their true selves but must also face their darkest, most repressed fears.

The strange and twisted story about identity and personal growth resonated with fans when it was adapted into an animated series by MTV. The TV show captured Sam Kieth’s iconic art style, bringing the darkly introspective story to life for a much wider audience. It still feels rare to see adaptations that are just as perfect as The Maxx.

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