Ten Creator-Owned Comics That Deserve a Screen Adaptation

As more and more superhero and comic book movies are turned into major film franchises, there are -- for those of us who have been paying attention long enough -- always fairly obvious omissions.

On the superhero side, of course, there's a distinct lack of any female superheroes, and that's not a result of there being no good options. Characters like Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman are easily more marketable than something like Guardians of the Galaxy, no matter how awesome James Gunn seems to have made that film. There are some other glaring omissions, too, but that's not what particularly interests us today.

Rather, there is a huge, untapped group of characters and concepts without powers...and without massive corporations overseeing their every move.

There have been attempts, of course, at making non-superhero comic book movies and, like the superhero comic book movies, they're hit and miss. For every Sin City or Ghost World there's a The Spirit or Art School Confidential.

Below are ten creator-owned comics we think deserve to be adapted for the screen...but remember, just because they deserve it doesn't mean they need it. Most of these creators will tell you that other-media attention is just fine and all but comics are an end unto themselves. We'll also try and steer away from the ones either currently in active development or where the creators have so much stuff in development it's a no-brainer (like, for instance, Ed Brubakers' or Brian K. Vaughan's books). Not becuase they don't deserve it but because it doesn't require a lot of creativity to say "Hey, you know what they should look at? SAGA!"

Savage Dragon

Erik Larsen's long-running series almost didn't make the list on account of its frequent use of superhero tropes -- but there's a lot there. First of all, in spite of his having powers and all, Dragon is more like a PG-13 action movie. Dragon is a one-man police task force, taking on extra-human baddies. He doesn't wear a costume; he wears a uniform, and that's enough to differentiate him.

Dragon is also a cool, complex character and one who has lived out a pretty long life in real time and had LOTS happen to him during that period. There is no shortage of story to be told around the character, and his only screen appearances to date were an old animated series from a time before comics adaptations were taken seriously and treated with respect...

Strangers in Paradise

Terry Moore is currently working on a novel set following the events of Strangers in Paradise. There's a SIP Kids one-shot due to hit next month (and premiering next week at Comic Con International: San Diego) that will explore a zany, all-ages-friendly take on the characters. And the movie rights have been purchased and then allowed to lapse a few times now.

Part of the problem of SiP is that it's an epic. If you do just one movie and don't finish the story, you aren't doing it justice. Some have speculated that it would actually work better as a TV series. Whatever the case, it's one of the greatest American comic books ever published and it's a shame there doesn't seem to be any movement on something that could bring it to a wider audience.

Lazarus

In a cinematic marketplace where women don't get all that many great roles, Greg Rucka and Michael Lark's Lazarus would be a breath of fresh air.

That Forever Carmichael is the badass super-soldier her family wants and needs is the point; that she's got boobs is rarely mentioned. She's a great character in the midst of an elaborate, well-constructed world. At this point, you could probably cram most of what's been done in the comics into a year or two worth of TV.

...Maybe somebody oughtta try.

Abadazad

J.M. DeMatteis is one of those writers whose best ideas come when he isn't working on corporate characters -- which is saying something when you consider his runs on Captain America and Justice League. There are a number of potential projects of his that could be adapted into great movies or TV series, but his passion for Abadazad always shows through, and it would make the process of adapting it (for a writer who has worked in TV and film before) an interesting one.

Shinku

Ron Marz and Lee Moder teamed to make a book whose concept is so self-evidently cool that when I first heard about it, I immediately lined up a series of postgame "commentary track"-style interviews without having seen the comic yet.

My faith in Marz and Moder was well-founded, though, and Shinku always had plenty worth talking about going on between its pages.

The tale of a warrior woman who's the last line of defense against a centuries-old tribe of vampires, she's the last survivor of her samurai clan.

Love and Rockets

This seminal, critically-acclaimed Love & Rockets is one of those books that would be very difficult to do as a single movie. If anything, it would be either a TV series or a TV/movie hybrid...which of course is a tough sell with anything that isn't primed to be a massive blockbusters.

I could see somebody like Richard Linklater (who, conveniently, uses music quite well in his films, too) doing right by this, when you look at his bizarrely ambitious projects like Boyhood and Before Sunrise/Before Sunset/Before Midnight. How, exactly, he would pull it off? Probably not unlike Sin City, with a ton of input from the comics' creators and an elaborate, interwoven format.

Amelia Cole

On the face of it, Amelia Cole sounds like she would be an easy sell in Hollywood. Make Harry Potter a pretty girl and give her a quirky sidekick and a do-it-yourself sensibility, mix in a little of the classic comic book tragic origin and shake well.

Its appeal is so simple and broad that it's the kind of book you expect to do well in the bookstore market and attract some other-media attention. Heck, during a Reddit AMA last night, Eric Esquivel of Loki: Ragnarok'n'Roll said that it was the kind of book he wished he was writing.

Stray Bullets

You think The Walking Dead has a bunch of stuff in the comics that they couldn't get away with on TV? Aww, that's cute.

David Lapham's signature series is finally back on the shelves for the first time in years -- and it would be brilliant if someone could take advantage of that to make a TV series or movie set in the world. The nice thing is, not unlike Love & Rockets, the series jumps around enough that you could actually introduce new characters and concepts on TV without alienating hardcore readers too much, provided you keep the tone right and don't skimp on the fan-favorites.

The Damnation of Charlie Wormwood

Coming soon to print from Dynamite Entertainment, this Thrillbent digital comics series has quietly become one of the most must-read comics currently being published. The art is perfectly-suited to it but, like all of the items on this list, it's the scripts that really shape the book and define it, with the art simply matching the mood and adding to it.

That's what you need, of course, to make a TV or movie project work.

Trigger Girl 6

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One of the best features from the late, lamented Creator-Owned Heroes from Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray et. al., here's what I had to say after her first appearance was published:

Trigger Girl 6 is the centerpiece of the book, though, and rightly so. As much as I enjoyed American Muscle, I loved Palmiotti, Gray and Noto's piece, which perfectly balanced action, character, intrigue and violence in a beautifully rendered (if NSFW) short that introduces an awesome new female lead who manages to do what so often seems impossible in comics: to be both strong and sexy without deteriorating into cheesecake, and to pull off a skintight leather outfit without a D cup.