With the very cool news that Terry Moore’s Rachel Rising has been optioned for television (and that could be a great show that I would LOVE to see) I started thinking about other indie properties
(most with complex female characters) I’d love to see optioned for television as either an ongoing or a mini-series. With the advent of shortened series - Netflix’s House of Cards, AMC’s Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and The Killing all run only 13 episodes (typically) - we're seeing a rash of new thinking in quality over quantity, which is good for a lot of comic book properties with world building or effects issues. Most of the best shows out there right now run short seasons: Showtime’s Homeland has 12 per season. Game of Thrones and Newsroom are only 10! The Walking Dead began with a 6-episode half season, then moved to a “full” 13, and for its last season delivered 16 - but still short of the formerly typical 22-episode season. Add to that a rash of recent high-quality mini-series like HBO’s six-part Mildred Pierce or Sundance’s 7-part Top of The Lake and we’re in a really interesting period of television where we’re seeing a huge uptick in great TV that equal some bold choices in both content and in the way that content is delivered. All of it makes me optimistic that smart comics properties that might have been a tough sell even a couple years ago might be more viable now. So what are five at the top of my list? Glad you asked!
Tim Seeley and Mike Norton
This noir-ish horror meets detective story set in a rural Wisconsin town would look fantastic on television. From the barren winter landscapes, and farmland settings to the “walking dead” and supernatural elements it’s got the makings of a great ongoing series. As a small town is quarantined after a one day event causes the recently deceased to "revive," the local police force is dealing with the event and the ripples it causes to the best of their ability - but things are getting more complicated by the moment. With a touch of Fargo, a touch of the supernatural, paired with a whole lot of horror - both natural and unnatural, the book is creepy and smart and just dying for a great television adaptation.
With a balls to the wall fascinating story about a supposed clone of Jesus raised in the public eye, and the ramifications that causes (on so many levels - personal, political, and of course religious) Murphy’s story is full of both bark and bite. With gorgeous visuals, and a story unafraid to push on boundaries and be unconventional, Punk Rock Jesus is a great little mini-series, and would be complex enough for a solid four-part (at least) television mini-series. Though the world building could be expensive in some ways, a surprising amount of the story takes place in the compound in which “Chris” is raised, which helps make things very doable!
Dan Abnett and I.N.J. Culbard
Probably an uphill battle to get anything related to vampires that isn’t for pre-teen girls on television these days (especially with the disappointment that has become True Blood) but if I could pick any “vampire” property it would be The New Deadwardians. This vampires plus zombies plus detectives with the flavor of Downtown Abbey is wholly original, and wonderfully complex. For viewers that haven’t read the book I think the world building and concepts would feel incredibly fresh (even though zombies and vampires are all but tapped out) and the story has great detective weaving and bobbing to keep viewers hooked for a solid mini-series run.
Greg Rucka and Matthew Southworth.
After two layered and gorgeous mini-series volumes I confess I’d love to see Stumptown either as an ongoing television series, or as a high quality mini-series - either could work, and either would be an awesome bit of detective noir set in Portland and with a fascinating and complex heroine at its center. Ex-police officer, now a P.I., Dex Parios, is the kind of flawed character that you can't help but fall in love with. Trouble follows Dex wherever she goes and she makes enemies as regularly as she draws breath, but she's smart and determined, and despite it all, has a streak of "do the right thing" a mile wide. Each volume follows a new case, and after one ends you find yourself so very anxious for the next to begin. The first volume would make an incredibly strong first season of television - and television is pretty kind to detectives and P.I.'s from a billion Law & Order episodes to shows like The Killing, the detective procedural is a great fit for television - when you add to it Rucka's incredibly clever way of telling a story I find myself just aching to see this adapted.
Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
I know that Brian K. Vaughn initially talked about Saga being “unoptionable” and that being a deliberate choice (I believe the quote is “too expensive for TV and too dirty and grown up to be a four quadrant blockbuster”) but that was all before Game of Thrones. I agree that there are elements in place that make Saga a very difficult property to tackle, but after the success and insane quality of Game of Thrones I think it could be done - in television, and be one of the greatest shows ever! Without dissing other sci-fi shows with a sense of humor (too late?) from an effects and even tonal point of view very few of them have worked for me -- but if you could bring the GoT level of quality and consistency to Saga, it could be epic. EPIC. SPACE. OPERA. Saga shares the complex character layering of a property like Game of Thrones - you grow to care about characters that are in direct opposition to one another, a fascinating (and heartbreaking) storytelling technique that is insanely effective. The effects are gonna be tricky of course (there is a woman that is half woman and half spider, so you know...challenges!) and you’re going to need some compromises, and you definitely need a show runner that “GETS” the property, ALL CAPS GETS. But I stand by the idea that it could be just about the greatest show ever.
And since we’re talking about options...where is my NONPLAYER??? Both my issue #2 AND my movie from New Line!?! This interview with Nate Simpson from January 2013 mentions that it’s all been handed off months ago (where the movie is concerned), but I want updates and buzz, man!!!
What about you? You interested in any of these books as television shows? What are you dying to see make it to the small screen?