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Saturday’s Literary License

Okay, so here’s another parlor game for you.

I did a column a while back jumping off the idea of canceled TV shows that would make interesting original comics series, a la Dark Horse’s Buffy Season 8.

But there’s other places to find new ideas for successful comics. Marvel had such a hit with Stephen King’s Dark Tower that they’ve announced that they’re embarking on a version of King’s The Stand, as well.

Now, I quite liked the first Dark Tower collection. I thought it was one of the best adapted works I’d seen in quite a while, and readers of this column know that I take an interest in the challenges of adaptation.

So that started me speculating. What are some other book series premises or characters — prose books, you know, the kind with no pictures — that might make for some fun and interesting original comics?

You have to figure the criteria should be pretty much the same. We’re looking for:

1. A relatively open-ended premise. Something that can generate a lot of different kinds of stories. We needn’t be rigid about the dictionary definition of “open-ended” — after all, World War II only lasted six years and change and we all know how it ended, so it’s technically rather finite. But it’s still generated thousands of stories and series. So when I say open-ended that’s what I mean — a way to tell more than ONE story.

2. Visually interesting. Nero Wolfe made for a terrific series of mystery novels and a pretty good TV show on A & E; but as a comic book I don’t think there’s enough actual movement. Rex Stout’s books were all about the humorous setup and the breezy dialogue. On a TV series with talented actors having fun, that can work. But as a comic I think it would be way too static. (Although there WAS a Wolfe comic strip decades ago, briefly, ghosted by Green Lantern scribe John Broome.) But for our purposes let’s try to think of a series with lots of cool stuff an artist can draw.

3. Something that doesn’t suffer from Gilligan Syndrome. Meaning something with a flaw in its premise, a series that is set up so that if the protagonists solve their basic problem, the series is over. Gilligan and friends get off the island, we’re done. Richard Kimble catches the one-armed man, we’re done. Captain Janeway gets the crew of the Voyager home, we’re done. (Yes, I know my examples are all from successful TV shows that ran for years. I don’t care. It’s still a flaw. Let’s avoid it.)

4. Largely plot-driven. Stuff has to happen. This is part of that “visual interest” requirement, really — your artist needs stuff to draw besides talking heads. This doesn’t necessarily entail wall-to-wall fight scenes or anything; it just means your protagonist should somehow be in motion. Doing different things. Ideally, doing them in a variety of different places as well. Stories with visual variety will help your artist’s work.

I’d say those qualifications are required. I’m going to add a couple more just for me — I’m limiting myself primarily to dramatic (as opposed to comedic) premise possibilities, because that’s what I like and because most of our readers here tend to be Marvel and DC types. The Giffen-era Justice League is about as funny as we like our funnybooks to get, judging from sales.

So, factoring that in as well, I’m going to try to keep it to things that would probably work for a superhero kind of audience — swashbuckling, adventure kinds of things.

Okay? So, those being the ground rules, my first thought was, Geez, they want more King? Why not Firestarter?

It’s practically a superhero comic as it stands. The story: a girl named Charlie McGee is a mutant, the offspring of two young people who were experimented on by a sinister governement agency called the Shop. Charlie and her father are on the run after her mother has been murdered by Shop agents. Charlie’s chief pursuer is a creepy, obsessed assassin named John Rainbird.

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Oh, and Charlie can start fires with her mind. Big, scary fires that can vaporize concrete if she wants them to.

It was a fun book and ended on a note that would really lend itself to further adventures. There was a movie with Drew Barrymore (that admittedly got almost universally bad reviews, though I rather liked it, myself.) There was also a made-for-TV sequel, Firestarter Rekindled, that picked up the story with Charlie as a teenager and both her parents gone…. but Rainbird and the Shop are still on the trail, and they’ve brought other mutants with them.

This was a pretty cool little pilot... ahead of its time, sadly.

None of this was anywhere near High Art, but it was fun. As a series it certainly seemed do-able. So there would be definite possibilities there.

The downside is, well, we’ve already seen all kinds of mutants on the run in comics. There’s not a lot that would be new and different there. Hell, half the readership would jeer that it was ripping off NBC’s Heroes. (Speaking of Heroes, I wonder if someone over on the Wold Newton site is speculating that Jessalyn Gilsig’s character — Claire the cheerleader’s pyrokinetic mother — is actually a grown-up Charlie McGee, and that the organization Linderman founded with Hiro’s dad and the others was once known as the Shop… oh my GAWD I’m such a nerd sometimes I scare myself.)

Anyway, as a comics ongoing, I think Firestarter might be interesting. Though I suspect the upcoming comic version of The Stand might well be the better story, my hunch is that book is basically one story, not a series premise. Once your triumphant little band of apocalypse survivors has faced down the demonic Flagg, what else is there? How many different stories can you spin out of that? As a premise Firestarter has more places to go.

Speaking of post-apocalypse fiction, Andre Norton’s book Star Man’s Son (or Daybreak 2250 A.D., depending on how old you are) is a natural for a comics sequel.

Here’s a synopsis I stole off a fan site. See if you don’t agree with me:

After a terrible nuclear war, Earth is a devastated ruin. Only a few humans survived and many of these were also mutated into Beast Things and other horrible creatures in the “blue cities” where radioactivity lingered. A very few survivors, however, received beneficial mutations that improved their chances of survival, but the seemingly normal survivors feared and hated any and every mutant.

Fors is the son of Langdon, a Star Man, a far-ranging explorer and leader of the Eyrie, and a woman that Langdon had met down on the plains. Although Langdon was seemingly normal, Fors has inherited white hair from his mother, a mutation viewed with suspicion by the other residents of the Eyrie. While Langdon was alive, he protected Fors from most of the fear and hatred, but then Langdon was killed by Beast Things on an exploration into a far city and the men who find him bring back only a few of his belongings.

After that, Fors was mostly ignored in his efforts to become a Star Man like his father. He has been adopted by Lura, a great hunting cat, and has made his own sword, knives, bow, and arrows as required. His father, a master teacher among the Star Men, had already ensured before his death that Fors knows all that is required. Nevertheless, the Council has passed him over for five years and tomorrow he will have to give up his weapons and become a tiller of the soil. As he ponders his options, Fors conceives a bold plan and immediately starts gathering supplies and equipment, including his father’s pouch, for a great journey to search for the lost city in the north that was never bombed and thus is safe for scavengers.

Although Fors has tried to hide them, he has some unusual talents that will help him on his trek: he is able to communicate empathically with Lura and he has much better night vision that most humans. Moreover, he has other, more subtle talents that manifest as he travels.

Fors eventually succeeds in his quest to become a Star Man, and with his friend Arskane of the Plains you have a great partnership set up for future adventures. Reclaiming a ruined Earth has been a standby for all kinds of SF series, from Planet of the Apes to Kamandi to The Road Warrior.

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Of course there’s probably a good comic-book series to be made from Norton’s Beastmaster, as well. But Dar’s already had movies and a reasonably successful syndicated TV show and I like the idea of the Star Men better. Someone should give young Fors a shot in comics.

Another SF classic that seems like a natural comic-book series to me is Poul Anderson’s Time Patrol.

The adventures of Manse Everard and his colleagues in the Time Patrol as they try to keep history on its proper path are, again, based on a premise that’s not new to comics — but Anderson’s Time Patrol tales have the advantage of Anderson’s meticulous research and understanding of sociology. It’s Timecop with class.

You could just adapt the books as they stand and get a couple of years’ worth of comics; but if you treated the series the same way as Marvel and Dark Horse did Conan, using their method of weaving the authentic adaptations in and out of original stories in an ongoing monthly, you’d have something that ran for a decade or two.

Another science-fiction premise that seems like an obvious monthly-comic-book possibility is Fred Saberhagen’s Berserker books.

This book is AWESOME.

This is an amazingly cool series about a doomsday weapon left over from an ancient interstellar war that humanity must contend with, an army of self-replicating robots that have only one directive — wipe out all organic life.

Again with the AWESOME.

It’s the Terminator’s Skynet, but on a galactic scale. Over the course of dozens of novels and short stories, Saberhagen was able to ring endless variations on the theme of flawed-and-human versus merciless-and-mechanical… with humanity’s flaws very often proving to be the factor that gives them the win. There’s a rumor that someone was actually going to try this as a comics series but I don’t think it happened. It’s a shame, because I think it would be a terrific idea, especially with a semi-anthology approach like Warren Ellis took with Global Frequency.

But there’s lots of possibilities outside of the SF/fantasy arena, too. The mystery and detective genre is full of continuing series characters. Sherlock Holmes has been done a number of times in comics, as well as Mike Hammer and Modesty Blaise.

But it’s possible to go a little further off the reservation than that. There’ve already been plenty of comics about spies and tough guys in trenchcoats. The detective/thriller genre has lots of series possibilities beyond those.

A speculation that has occasionally occurred to me over the years is the idea of doing John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee as a comic.

One of my favorite series characters in any medium.

It’s a really flexible premise. MacDonald designed it from the beginning as a series, one that was targeted directly at the mid-20’s single guys that were reading paperback-original action stories at the time. (Does that demographic sound familiar?)

Travis McGee lives in Florida, aboard a houseboat he won in a poker game. To the casual observer, he’s a cynical loafer who lives off the occasional odd job, a boat bum who likes to tell people he’s taking his retirement in installments in between gigs while he’s young enough to enjoy it. But Travis actually makes his living, not as a private detective, but as a self-styled “salvage expert,” a court of last resort.

truthfully, this is my least favorite of the books, but it's one of the only pics I could find of the cool old cover design. The new editions look awful.

If someone has taken something from you, and there’s no way conventional law enforcement will ever get it back, Travis McGee will retrieve it for you; and when he gets it back, he keeps half.

That simple premise has taken Travis all over the U.S. and Mexico, it’s taken him after sunken treasure and through Mayan ruins, and it always puts him — and usually his girl of the moment — in harm’s way. There’s something very comic-booky about the series, at least I’ve always thought so. Travis often functions as a vigilante, taking out sociopathic killers the police can’t touch. He maintains a secret identity of sorts. He trains with the obsession of Bruce Wayne, and in addition to his athletic prowess he is a gifted actor and mimic as well as a fearsomely intelligent observer of the human condition. And when he gets his moral dander up, he is no less an avenging crusader than any of his masked four-color brethren.

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Travis has never done well outside of the twenty-one original novels by MacDonald, though. There was a movie in the 1960’s, Darker Than Amber, that purported to adapt the seventh book but managed to throw away most everything that made it a good story.

Great book. Not a very good movie.

Directed by a pre-Enter The Dragon Robert Clouse, it’s notable primarily for a climactic fight scene so brutal that the print for U.S. release had to censor it. There was another made-for-TV movie done in the 80’s adapting The Empty Copper Sea, with Sam Elliott as McGee, that was quite a bit better. Both films were intended to be first in a series, though, and it didn’t happen.

I still think McGee would work great in a comic book, though, and the main reason is because Denny O’Neil and Denys Cowan practically did it already.

McGee in all but name.

When you read the O’Neil/Cowan Question anyone familiar with Travis McGee will catch the similarities. The way Cowan drew him, Vic Sage even looks the way McGee used to on the old Signet paperback editions.

You can't tell from this, but the hair color's the same, too.

That’s not to say there was any plagiarism going on. It’s more like a resonance, an echo. Denny O’Neil was a fan of MacDonald and though I don’t for a moment think one was derived from the other, I do sense a certain influence, especially in the way Sage’s pal Rodor became analogous to McGee’s friend and confidant Meyer.

So, since we’ve already had a comic that came close, why not really do it? It’s kind of like my feeling about the Punisher vs. Mack Bolan — there’s something annoying about having to settle for the ersatz superhero version when someone can just as easily do the real one. (Well, okay, Marvel couldn’t really use the actual Mack Bolan in Spider-Man, but you see what I mean.) I could see McGee working as the same kind of tough-as-nails monthly comic as Criminal, something along those lines. Get someone like Alex Maleev to draw it.

Anyway, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I came up with about a dozen more possibles — Dorothy Gilman’s Mrs. Pollifax, Lee Child’s Jack Reacher, Kim Newman’s Diogenes Club, many others. Feel free to suggest your own.

I warn you, though, playing this game is hard to stop once you start.

See you next week.


Well it’s always seemed to me that the most obvious one would be Harry Potter. You could either do straightforward adaptation, which would give you five years or so right there, or interweave the original stories with additional side adventures, which would stretch it out, or you could pick up where the books left off, a la Buffy. I mean, come on, right? Talk about brining in new readers!

The only argument against it, I would think, would be the “but there book got boys to read prose and why ruin that?” argument, but now that the “phenomenon” aspect is fading, that that seems like less of an issue.

“World War II only lasted four years and change” Try telling that to the Poles. But seriously, those were some good suggestions.

Iain Banks’ “Culture” series offers almost limitless potential for more stories, settings, characters, etc — hard not to when your premise spans eons and most of the galaxy. You’d need someone good doing the layouts though — someone who can really open up a page — because those stories would suffer terribly at being crammed into small panels in a 3×3 grid.

Dresden Files had that abortive TV series a year or two ago, but those could make some decent comics. Solid detective stories with the added visual flair of vampires. Bonus, Jim Butcher must be amenable to adaptations or the TV series wouldn’t have been made.

I don’t know if the Tolkien estate would be game, but there’s so much Lord of the Rings material that most people will never be exposed to. For starters, you can present the stuff from the Silmarillion and the various histories. But there are so many stories that are just hinted at and never really told, that I think there’s plenty to mine.

I wouldn’t mind one based on Stephen R Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant books.
While the 2 trilogies (& the first 2 books of a new series) would be good material for an adaptation, the Land itself would be a good place for an ongoing series. Set it in between Thomas Covenant’s visits, which in the Land’s timeline was quite extended, and you’ve got lots of interesting characters, locations, background, and concepts.

(I also think with the degree of Special effects available today it’s time for a movie series on these too.)

Andrew Collins

April 5, 2008 at 10:40 pm

I just recently started reading James Axler’s “Outalnders” novels, from Gold Eagle. It’s a spin-off of their Deathlands series, which I’ve nevr read. Thankfully, Outlanders stands more or less on its own, so it’s easy enough to follow. Great sci-fi/action series with a small cast of main characters, open ended adventures, and the potential from some good comics. IDW just recently started publishing some comics based off of Gold Eagle’s Rogue Angel and Mack Bolan series, so I’ve been bugging them about doing one for Outlanders too.

Another series I just started was John Norman’s Gor books. A bit on the trashy side and with a few elements to them that would lend the series to definitely being a Mature Readers book, but still a series I think could work well in comic form.

This is either obvious or blasphemy, or both, but Rawlings’s Harry Potter world – not necessarily including Harry himself – would be the single biggest draw for new comics readers since the Star Wars Expanded Universe. Life in the Wizarding world, Riddle’s rise, TOS from the POV of someone from Hufflepuff (a la Marvels), different & new main characters; the possibilities are endless. Not gonna happen though.

Erf. I didn’t see Matt’s comment or I would’ve added a “yeah” to my post regarding HP. And Andrew, I’ve got the entire Gor series and I agree, but don’t think it’d happen without some major PC related “Adaptation Decay” even with a Mature Audiences rating. Plus Norman is very strict about any outside use, even FanFic. Have you ever seen the awful movies they made based oh-so-loosely on the first two books? There was going to be a Gor Magazine quite a while back which would be at least partially GN adaptations, but it never panned out for some reason. Books 13 & 20 are the best IMO, but the three book “Jason Marshall” series might be a good place to start for new readers if they don’t read 1-26 all in order.

If you did fancy a ‘funny book’ how about Captain Bluebear by Walter Moers. The book only covered the first 13 and half of his 27 lives so theres still half a life time of this adventurous bear to document. It’s set in a fabulously imaginative and visual world, the book featuring great cartoons from the author.

Colossus 2000

April 6, 2008 at 3:18 am

Great idea, and I will have a think and write something here, but 1939 – 1945 is not four years….. even with change.

The other thing about doing the Travis McGee books is that a talented artist-colorist team could do some interesting stuff in using the colours from the titles as elements of the art.

Ooh, Nero Wolfe comic strips…

Besides Starman’s Son, a Norton series that to me would be a natural adaption would be the Witch World series. Lots of source material to work from, plenty of room for new stories, and as much as I love post-apocalyptic stuff, fantasy is probably an easier sell these days. Likewise, I would personally love to see new Solar Queen stories, but I don’t think space merchants are a very big draw these days.

Another Anderson series that I think could make for a good comic book series is the Operation Chaos stories, with magic co-existing alongside technology on modern-day Earth (the first story involves a witch and a werewolf undertaking a secret mission for the Allies in Nazi Germany). There’s no lack of stories you could get out of that concept.

Fixed the WWII thing, for those who were bothered. It’s an ethnocentric slip, I admit it: really I was thinking of Sgt. Rock and the Haunted Tank. I’m pretty sure the war was four years for those guys, and their strips ran a lot longer than that.

I’m putting in a vote for the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde. A fantastical world, screwy physics and science, and mild supervillains. It could definately work.

Vincent Paul Bartilucci

April 6, 2008 at 7:48 am

Has Harry Flashman ever made it to the funny books? Lionel Fenn’s Kent Montana series comes to mind. Aaron Allston’s Doc Sidhe could be wonderful as a comic book.

Never read Starman’s Son – last one to Amazon is a rotten egg!

I realize this is both a)comedic and b) a series of Young Adult novels, but I’d snatch up a well-drawn series based on Gordon Korman’s “Bruno & Boots” books. That could be all kinds of fun.

I would buy a Dirk Gently series, it would be like X-Factor without 900 crossovers.

Oh, *I* skipped comedic possibilities, but that doesn’t mean everyone has to. We’re just goofing off. If you’ve got a good one, chime in.

One comedy-adventure possibility I thought of right away was Simon Templar, the Saint; the original stories from Charteris were often hilarious, though the subsequent TV shows and movies emphasized the action more than the jokes. But it turned out after I did some digging that there WERE Saint comics, quite a few of them. Mostly in Britain.

Yeah, Bruno and Boots would translate well.

Heck, Korman should write comic books period!

The ones that leap most readily to mind are Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series and Douglas Adams’ Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

…(Speaking of Heroes, I wonder if someone over on the Wold Newton site is speculating that Jessalyn Gilsig’s character — Claire the cheerleader’s pyrokinetic mother — is actually a grown-up Charlie McGee, and that the organization Linderman founded with Hiro’s dad and the others was once known as the Shop… oh my GAWD I’m such a nerd sometimes I scare myself.)

It’s been pointed out to me that the evil Linderman on Heroes and the evil John Rainbird in Rekindled were both played by the same actor: Malcolm McDowell.

“Coincidence? I think NOT!!”

…okay, at this point my nerdity is not scaring just me but probably my wife too. I’ll stop now.

Someone got to Dirk Gently before me, but adventures starring Gently would make great comic book fodder. I wish Adams had written more before his untimely demise.

I think that Kage Baker’s Company sequence shows definite potential in this direction. A broad canvas, covering thousands of years of history (and prehistory), a large and varied cast of mortals and immortals, and the potential for virtually any kind of story. I even know how I’d do it, focusing on a previously unknown group of immortals, with occasional cameos from the major players from the novels.

But if someone were to do a comic series of Newman’s The Diogenes Club, I’d be *so* there!

I would like to see “A Song of Ice and Fire” by George R. R. Martin put into a comic books. That has plenty of ongoing plot in it, perhaps a little too much.

I’m surprised no one has mentioned the Dune novels- lots of interesting visuals for the right artist. Has that already been adapted? Anyway, can you imagine Brendan McCarthy’s Dune?

I’ll second the Discworld suggestion- there were a couple illustrated books, and I’ve seen one listing for a Discworld comic, although I’ve never seen it. Very funny stuff, with memorable characters and varied set pieces.

A couple of possibilities come to mind: Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct novels (lots of characters and decades of stories to adapt and extrapolate from) and a scifi novel I read as a kid, “The Insect Warriors” in which a post-apocalyptic human race is reduced to the size of insects.

And I think “Star Man’s Son” may have been the first science fiction novel I ever read that wasn’t by Jules Verne or H. G. Wells. That cover painting you posted was indeliby stamped in my memory, so much so that when I saw the cover of Kamandi #1, my first thought was, “Kirby’s ripping off Andre Norton.” What a rush of nostalgia seeing it again after 40 years triggers!

This thread reminds me: who’s got the THE SHADOW license these days, anyway? I’d love to see all that great stuff back in print: the Kaluta/Robbins ’73 series; the Chaykin mini; the Helfer run.

I’ve always wanted to see Philip Jose Farmer’s ‘Riverworld’ series brought to comics. The plot possibilities would be endless as any person who has ever lived could be used in conjunction with any other person and death would only be a temporary inconvenience.

Derek J. Goodman

April 6, 2008 at 4:54 pm

I second the Dune idea. It’s especially strange that this has never happened considering the large amount of new Dune material released over the last decade or so.

Derek J. Goodman

April 6, 2008 at 4:56 pm

Almost forgot, I would also love to see some comics based on China Mieville’s Bas Lag novels. Now THERE would be some great visuals.


April 6, 2008 at 7:03 pm

There was a great british show ‘Ultraviolet’ that would make for a great comic series.
It was sort of a realistic take on a secret government agency trying to hunt Vampries (not that they were ever called that – they were called Code Five’s), whilst also trying to figure out what the Vampires were up to (lot’s of scientists and bioligists were turning into them – and the vampires, who often die begging to live, are constantly claiming to be searching for a way to live without taking human life – hence the scientists, and as such half of the agency aren’t convinced they are doing the right thing by killing them… added a nice touch).
Main character was a police detective who ends up with the government branch after his partner, and best friend, dissapears and turns out to have become one of them – so he was a good entry level character – and the entire agency (apart from their kill squad, who was like a SWAT team for vampires) is made up of people who have had vampires try to kill them, killed their loved one’s, or even had loved one’s leave them to become Vampires.
Only lasted a season though, but it had the potential for so much more – especially after the twist in the final episode.
Anyway, here’s a link to the Wiki page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultraviolet_%28TV_serial%29
Would make an excellent comic, and is worth checking out if you’ve never seen it.

World War Z by Max Brooks would be a good one. Although Walking Dead is more or less that exact thing.

The Drive-In novels by Joe R. Lansdale ended on an open-ended note that could probably lead to a pretty interesting comic book in the right hands. Preferably Lansdale himself, but I’m sure others could do a good job as well.

- Agree about Firestarter. Loved the 1984 film when I was a kid. That TV sequel from couple of years back was horrible, despite Mlcolm McDowell. Even he couldn’t save it.

– My suggestion fo an adaptation: Robin Hobb’s The Farseer Trilogy with a possibility for continuation with the rest of The Realm of the Elderlings books (though I don’t know about them, since I’ve only read the Farseer Trilogy). They qualify in all the categories suggested above, IMHO.

Ball Four by Jim Bouton.

A washed up major-leaguer crawls his way back to the majors as a knuckleballer, meeting all the folks he saw on his way down and giving the inside scoop on what really happens behind the scenes in baseball.

Here’s the New Yorker quote from the inside of my copy: “Here is Bouton as a day-to-day observer, hard thinker, marvellous listener, comical critic, angry victim and unabashed lover of a sport. What he has given us is a rare view of a complex public profession seen from the inner-most side, along with an even more rewarding view of an ironic and courageous mind. And, very likely, the funniest book of the year.” That sounds like a protagonist you can hang a series on. This could sell at every ballpark and sports bar in the country.

I love the Ball Four idea; it could work really well as something in the style of True Story Swear To God. But the hard part would be getting a publisher to take a chance.

Dr. Syn! *aka The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh* would be perfect.

How about Fred Pohl’s Gateway series? The Heechee and the Foe are fascinating…

Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series could make a good comic, as it is entirely open ended, but with a bit of military/political intrigue beginning to creep into the books as an underlying plot.

Rainbow Six by Tom Clancy, which, although at its core, is essentially an argument in favour of fascism, could be an interesting series premise.

The Vampire novels by Anne Rice could be interesting material, especially if told in a time-linear fashion as Dark Tower is. Except for all the yucky vampire sex. As if Anita Blake wasn’t bad enough.

The Mars books by Edgar Rice Burroughs could be a lot of fun, as could the Tarzan books.

The RA Salvatore Drizzt books are already being made into a series of comics, published by Devil’s Due, but they are not as good as they could be. One problem is that the artists are obviously not always familiar with the books that they’re adapting, so certain details can be jarring. Another problem is the requirement to boil each book down to a 144 page comic. Additionally, since each book is broken into three issues, it forces a cliffhanger to be added to the end of each, often where none exists. Several of the storytelling decisions in those books already published are quite puzzling. In many instances, it seems that events which don’t matter have been preserved or presented in altered form in order to push a cool visual, whereas extremely important events are excised completely.

How about an adaptation of the original Ian Fleming Bond books, without the bias of the movies? Adapt them as they were written, not as they were filmed.

Since we’re already getting The Dark Tower, and The Stand, other DT related books, such as The Eyes of The Dragon would be good additions.

I don’t think that fans of Heroes can accuse anyone of ripping off the show, given how many various things that it steals from various comics.

ryan southwick

April 7, 2008 at 11:18 pm

I think Patrick O’Brian’s ‘Aubrey/Maturin’ (or ‘Master and Commander’) series could make fantastic graphic novels. Great main characters, and in a little seen genre, with 20 books of source material to draw from. They literally travel all over the world, and have just about every kind of naval adventure you can think of.

It’s not just sailing, for those who have only seen the movie, a large part of the books take place on land. Also one of the best things about the books was left out completely: that Dr. Maturin is a secret agent. Often his missions are more important than the nautical side of things. Original content could come from before or after the narrative of the novels, or mix and match existing plots with new stuff in pretty much any combination.

Good call on The Berserker Wars, by the way. Saberhagen’s ‘Book of Swords’ series could also work well.

“other DT related books, such as The Eyes of The Dragon would be good additions.”

I would LOVE to see a series set in the Eyes of the Dragon world. Wouldn’t even have to involve any of the main characters from the novel (but Flagg as the overarching villain, at least, would be best). King created such a dense and detailed little fantasy world in that one book, I’d love to see it expanded.

Also, as a kid I read to pieces the “Tripod Trilogy” by Jon Christopher, I believe, about aliens that conquered Earth via giant tripod attack craft, and the human resistant that overthrew them. As I recall, they would make a good setting for a series. Another one of those situations where you could do direct adaptations of the existing stories, stories set before or after the books, or stories set during the books from another character’s perspective.

I know the books and the author are controversial, but somebody could surely make some interesting comics based on Piers Anthony’s Xanth novels.

Another possibility: the Sime-Gen stories by Jacqueline Lichtenberg.

I agree with Andrew Collins…the Outlanders series would make a great comic series…but only if its written by the creator, Mark Ellis who already has a very extensive background a comics creator.

check out his site


Travis Pelkie

July 2, 2012 at 1:59 pm

I took a look at this after you linked to it in the comments to this week’s column, and boy do I second Chris Roberson’s idea of the late great Kage Baker’s Company novels. I hope if his Monkeybrain comics do well, he’ll look into doing that.

Funny how many of these came to pass.

Few corrections: Innovation did adaptations of some of Anne Rice’s Vampire material (Interview, Lestat and Queen of the Damned), as well as Discworld (Color of Magic and Light Fantastic. They didn’t do Xanth (though someone else did a graphic noxel); but, they did do On A Pale Horse.

Scarecrow of Romney Marsh was done by Gold Key, adapting the tv epsidoes, which were made into the movie Dr Synn, Alias the Scarecrow.

I’d add Robert Adams Horseclans series, Glen Cook’s Black Company series, The Scarlet Pimpernal (there were multiple books, not just the one), Alan Quartermain, beyond just the LOEG stuff; The Tales of the Shadowmen stories, The Black Coats, Arsene Lupin, Michael Moorcock’s Seaton Begg and Oswald Bastable,. I second Flashman and add Richard Sharpe, you could do great comedy stuff with PG Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Wooster, while still keeping it visual. Heck, Alan Moore proved you could put the characters into a mystery or adventure setting aand still keep their farcical viewpoint. Michael Chabon’s Gentlemen of the Road would be a good fit for Conana fans, though you’d think they would have come out more for Fafhrd and Gray Mouser (who should be in more comics). Dirk Pitt would seem a natural, as would Cussler’s more recent Isaac Bell character. Not sure why the Destroyer didn’t go over better. Capitan Alatriste would make for a good swashbuckling comic, as would Sabatini’s work. He did several books with Peter Blood, so why not? Talbot Mundy’s Jimgrim stories, REH’s El Borak, OSS 117, Dr. Omega, the Nyctalope, Dr Mabuse, Christopher Moore’s work, Easy Rawlins, Wallander, Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching, Series of Unfortunate Events, Ranger’s Apprentice, and many, many more…

Here’s a quote about John D. Macdonald that I often see bouncing around the web (I hesitate to quote from Wikipeida, which we all know is generally stuff we can wipe our asses with, but this seems legit). “Macdonald is by any standards a better writer than Saul Bellow, only Macdonald writes thrillers and Bellow is a human heart chap, so guess who wears the top grade laurels?” That’s from Kingsley Amis.

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