Seeing films and television series adapted as comic books is nothing new, but in the past decade we’ve experienced a new phenomenon in which canceled TV shows are finding a second life, and a second chance, in comics form. In many cases, these properties pick up right where their television runs left off, such as in Dark Horse’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight and IDW Publishing’s recent X-Files launch. So with that in mind, we turn to six other beloved genre shows that deserve a comic-book revival.
“Oh, boy.” It’s the trademark line from this classic late ’80s/early ’90s NBC series that starred Scott Bakula as a time-hopping (and body-hopping) quantum physicist tasked with putting right what once went wrong. Created by Donald P. Bellisario (Magnum P.I., Airwolf, NCIS), Quantum Leap ran for five seasons before its finale in 1993 but there’s been talk of a revival on numerous occasions by the star and the creator. But what if this series, which had a short-lived comic series from Innovation running concurrent to the original show, found a new home in comics? It would seem a perfect avenue for this sci-fi themed drama, either with one-and-done stories in each issue or small self-contained arcs taking Bakula’s Dr. Sam Beckett through time.
Xena: Warrior Princess
This Lucy Lawless-led series was a staple of the late ’90s, the product of Sam Raimi and Tapert’s uber-successful foray into syndicated television. But after six seasons, this warrior princess found her end in 2001 — much to fans’ regrets. Unlike the others on this list, Xena: Warrior Princess has had multiple adaptations in comics — most recently by Dynamite in 2006 — but none of them hitched their wagons directly to the TV series and its storylines. Much in the same way Buffy the Vampire Slayer was flagging before Joss Whedon returned to the franchise with Season Eight, imagine if Tapert and Raimi came back to Xena in a big way and kicked off a new era — and hey, maybe we could get some Autolycus with it.
At first it might not seem like a concept conducive to comics, but if you think about the idea of a strange town with even stranger residents and an overarching mystery, it seems right at home alongside the likes of Morning Glories. Launched in 1990 by David Lynch and Mark Frost, Twin Peaks was (and is) a critical darling. The series was cut short at two seasons after some studio finagling, but there’s been talk over the years of a comeback. At one point in 2007, show producer Bob Engels worked with artist Matt Haley on a graphic novel to act as a companion piece for a Twin Peaks boxed set, chronicling the town some 10 years later, but Lynch shot down that idea.
Freaks and Geeks
This 1999-2000 show was the informal first meeting for many of today’s top stars: Seth Rogen, James Franco and Jason Segel all received their big breaks on the dramedy. To transform Freaks and Greeks into a comic books might take a little bit of magic, but it could turn into something great. And unlike the live-action world, the Freaks and Geeks characters would never grow old in comics.
Tales From the Crypt
It got its start in the early 1950s as an EC comic, but that title was overshadowed in 1989 when the Cryptkeeper moved to HBO for the excellent anthology television series that ran for seven seasons. A few years back, Papercutz revived the title with an interesting cast of creators, but it failed to hit the mark. Imagine if someone like IDW were to take on this famed franchise once more, and bring dyed-in-the-wool EC fans like Rick Remender and Eric Powell in to kick off this new era of terror hosted by the Cryptkeeper and friends.
Thundarr the Barbarian
What if Howard the Duck‘s Steve Gerber created his own sword-wielding barbarian? Well, he did actually, way back in the early 1980s. Produced by Ruby-Spears, Thundarr the Barbarian saw Gerber team with cartoonist-turned-character designer Alex Toth for a barbarian story set in an apocalyptic future Earth. The series, which aired for two seasons, was a rollicking piece of animation that might have died quickly but has lived on for fans who grew up in that era. Sure it wore its Star Wars influences on its sleeve, but Star Wars itself owed a debt to earlier works. Imagine a Thundarr the Barbarian series picking up the then-future tales of a dystopian 1994 without going gritty but with a little wink to his hackneyed past and some able-bodied creators who know how to tell a story.