In the last little while, I’ve read reports that a couple of comic series I’ve read – Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan and Preacher by Garth Ennis – have been optioned and are soon to be turned into feature films. While adapting anything from one medium to another is hard, I can’t help but think the job would be made somewhat easier if the source material were at least being translated into the right medium.
Because seeing these stories brought to life on a screen would be cool. Both have great visual bents to them, fascinating characters and, most importantly, they tell unique stories which aren’t currently being depicted on any screen anywhere in the world.
I mean of course it’s tricky in that they have touchy aspects to them (Y: The Last Man has a crazy, bloody plague at the beginning and Preacher is kind of like Kevin Smith’s Dogma but with a lot more violence and sexual content), but if we all have to watch Katherine Heigl learn lessons about love from an unexpected source every five minutes then surely we can find room for these adaptations.
Really, the problem with this crazy optioning blur the studios seemed to have embarked on these last few years (aside from the fact they’ve gone so crazy that they’ve optioned books that haven’t even been released in print yet) is that they’re not necessarily taking into account what it will take to adapt this stuff.
When it comes to superhero comics, it’s easy to do a one off story and be done with it, because the mythos that exists around them is enough to help viewers fill in the blanks. For example, the majority of people have never actually sat down and read a Batman comic, but they can go into the movie just fine because they’re familiar enough with the idea behind the character.
But now, the studios are picking up stories that are more obscure and more complex than that. They’re picking up stories that writers, with the help of skilled artists, spend multiple issues developing. These people have worked at establishing rich environments, at making deep characters and at weaving complex stories good enough to hold your attention through months of release.
Y: The Last Man‘s story took six years and 60 issues to tell and Preacher‘s five years and 66 issues. And after all of that, the blood, sweat and tears that went into that level of creation, some random screenwriter is supposed to come in and slash and burn those stories all down into 120 pages? To whom does that sound like a good idea?
If the studios want to keep the depth and the interest and, what they’re really banking on, the fans and their sweet, sweet cash, wouldn’t it make more sense to do the damn things as some sort of pay-per-view mini-series? I mean, marketed correctly, it could totally work. Sort of like a High School Musical type event for the Lost set. You pay to watch each installment and then you pay for the DVDs when they come out.
If you look at it that way, it’s a win-win for everyone. Otherwise, we’re left with a two-hour crapstravaganza starring this asshole . . .
And who is interested in seeing that? Not me, thank you.