There’s often a thin line between comics and other entertainment media, and we’ve seen a plethora of comic-book adventures translate successfully to television, film and video games. But it’s a two-way street: A number of other-media properties find immense success in comics. But in all of that back-and-forth action, there are six epic worlds of storytelling from other media that could be bestsellers, given the right creators and the right format. With that in mind, we take a look at a group of top-tier movie, video game and television franchises, and imagine what could happen if and when they make a jump to comics.
Grand Theft Auto
It’s the game franchise for a generation of players, and arguably the first mature-oriented series to reach critical success. Its fifth major installment, the aptly titled Grand Theft Auto 5, was released Sept. 17, grossing a record-breaking $800 million in its first 24 hours of release — and $1 billion within its first three days. Each installment of the franchises creates a new world (or city, at least), replete with interesting characters and engaging action scenes for a longer narrative. With that in mind, Grand Theft Auto as a comic series seems ripe not only for an adaptation of each game’s story but also new adventures within those worlds. And that’s before even mentioning the memorable art of Aaron Garbut. In addition to that, numerous comic creators, including Brian Wood and Jacen Burrows, have worked on Rockstar’s GTA franchise and could conceivably be up to returning to that world. Imagine a company like Dark Horse partnering with Rockstar Games on a Grand Theft Auto 5 graphic novel, serialized monthly in comics form but then also weekly to GTA players digitally. (It’s worth noting Monday’s announcement that former Marvel president Bill Jemas has been hired to launch a “graphic fiction imprint” for Rockstar’s parent company Take-Two Interactive Software.)
Indiana Jones and superheroes emerged from the same roots: pulp. Yet the archeology professor/adventurer has never found a welcome home in comics, despite attempts by both Marvel and Dark Horse (the former even enlisted John Byrne to write and draw an issue). But now seems like the ideal time to reconsider an Indiana Jones comic book. Although Indiana Jones is centered on one character, as opposed to Star Wars’ expansive galaxy, I could see the property’s new owner, Disney, using Marvel to release conservatively scheduled but top-notch book. Remember when Marvel got the license to Halo and put Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev on it? Or Castle, and the publisher again tapped Bendis? Imagine Bendis doing an Indiana Jones miniseries or graphic novel with someone like Leinil Yu or Yanick Paquette. Who knows, maybe they can even take that fabled journey to Atlantis!
James Bond is the ultimate fictional spy, and has influenced virtually every one that followed. Agent 007 has had some adventures in short-lived comic series ranging from Dark Horse and Eclipse to Marvel and DC, but never seemed to get a fair shake when it came to creative visions and promotion. With the James Bond franchise at a critical height it hasn’t experienced in decades, imagine someone showing the same respect to the source material that Darwyn Cooke has demonstrated with his acclaimed Parker adaptations — only with an eye toward world-building akin to Dark Horse’s Star Wars comics. The key is to find comics creators with a passion for Bond and keen market sensibilities to work on the modern comic shelves. This seems like something right up the alley of IDW Publsihing, which handles a variety of licensed books, from Transformers to G.I. Joe to the aforementioned Parker novels. After his recent turn into a full-fledged writer in addition to artist with Sin Titulo and the Assassin’s Creed comics, I’d love to see Cameron Stewart as writer and art director on a series of this nature — perhaps pairing himself with IDW regular Stephen Mooney.
All right, this will likely never happen, as author J.K. Rowling apparently remains opposed to her bestselling novels turned blockbuster movies being transformed into comic books. But with the Harry Potter novels and films complete, and Rowling herself penning a screenplay inspired by the Hogwarts textbook Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the right deal — and the right deal-makers — might be able to conjure a Hogwarts comic. It would be more than just one hero’s journey or just one school: A fully realized Harry Potter comics project could encompass multiple series, miniseries and one-shots. But it has to be done slowly, and right. And the person best positioned to bring this together is DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson, who has long served as the shepherd of Warner Bros.’ Harry Potter franchise.
The Lord of the Rings
You may not realize it, but J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth has come to comics on multiple occasions, perhaps most notably in the 1989 Eclipse adaptation of The Hobbit by Chuck Dixon and David T. Wenzel. More recently, DC Comics released a digital comic by Brian Wood and Simon Coleby that served as a prologue to the 2011 video game The Lord of the Rings: War in the North; however, it was never published in print. Despite that drastic oversight, the pairing of The Lord of the Rings with sequential art is a creative crossover that would excite comic fans, and fans of both Tolkien’s books (OK, maybe) and Peter Jackson’s films. Like War in the North, which takes place in the great northern wastes during the events of The Lord of the Rings, the comics might use Tolkien’s rich and detailed books as a springboard from which to explore other corners of Middle-earth.
Final Fantasy is the fourth-largest video game franchise of all time, and it’s taken players to more than a dozen new worlds and introduced them to thousands of characters. Mixing swords and sorcery, magical items and a love for giant ostriches called Chocobos, Final Fantasy has become the leading RPG for generations of gamers. In Japan, there have been several manga adaptations and even one spinoff series, but none has properly taken advantage of the ardent international following. Each major Final Fantasy game has its own world and segment of characters, giving potential comic creators a chance to target the most popular ones for further exploration. Imagine Brandon Graham creating a Final Fantasy 7 continuation with Cloud Strife, Bryan O’Malley creating a Chocobo’s tale, Adam Warren doing a sussed-up version of the original Final Fantasy. Or even some superhero heavyweights like Gail Simone, Kieron Gillen and others stepping into this world of crystals.