Horror Comics to TV: The Good, The Bad, and The Scary.

Studies show that one out of every two films in theatres today are either a Marvel or a DC comic book adaptation. Just kidding, that’s a fake statistic. Seriously though, comic book movies have taken over Hollywood. Subsequently, the comic book business is booming. In fact, I became a comic book reader and collector just several months ago. It all started on my 30th birthday when my good friend let me borrow his The Walking Dead compendiums. I am an avid fan of the AMC series, but wasn’t a comic reader… yet. I read all three compendiums in less than a week! I was hooked. My first comic purchase was The Walking Dead (TWD) #150. Now I collect about seven different comics. Three of these are horror comics, which I prefer much more than superhero comics. It took me thirty years to become a comic nerd.

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One of the comics I collect is Outcast, a demonic possession series written by Robert Kirkman, the same man that writes TWD. I have all 18 issues of that one. On the other hand, I don’t have all of The Walking Dead because I don’t have $15,000. That sounds fake, like my statistic that starts this editorial off, however, sadly, it’s about right. A first print (original issue released) of TWD #1 goes for $2,000 at the cheapest. I’m hoping in a few years my Outcast #1 gets that high in value, which is not impossible since it’s also a television show now. Outcast, starring Patrick Fugit, airs on Cinemax.

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Since the success of TWD, nonsuperhero comics – specifically horror comics – are shifting towards television adaptation. Outcast, Preacher, and Lucifer all started out as comics and are all currently on the air. I don’t read or watch Lucifer. Preacher is a great show and I’m reading the comics now. Sons of the Devil only has seven issues out but a short film on Vimeo is available for free and if popularity increases, a show would no doubt come to fruition. Southern Bastards (non-horror but gritty) is on issue 14 and already optioned for television by FX. That, by the way, will be the next Sons of Anarchy. Get the ball rolling, FX!

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  No Daryl? Because he’s all TV… and all man.

Once again, I don’t watch or read Lucifer. According to IMDb user reviews, the opinions are mixed. The plot centers around Lucifer taking up residence in Los Angeles due to boredom. While in L.A., he decides to be of some use and begins helping the police solve crimes. Sounds like Castle with a devilish twist. Apparently, he is much more powerful and evil in the comics than in the show. No thanks, Fox. I think I’ll stick with the AMC and Cinemax shows for now.

Adapting  horror comics and graphic novels to a screen can be tricky. They’re not kid-friendly like your Superman and Spiderman comics. Some things in comics just can’t be done on television. I’ll give you an example with TWD. In the show, Michonne and The Governor have a fight and The Governor loses and eye after getting stabbed. Well, he loses an eye to Michonne in the comics as well. Instead of a simple stabbing, Michonne scoops it out with a spoon that still has his own poo on it from just being sodomized with it. Yes, you read that correctly. Did I mention Michonne is one of the good guys? This did all happen after The Governor captured her and raped her for several days, another thing viewers won’t see. So perhaps old poop-eye had it coming.

The Preacher comics make the above-mentioned eye scoop incident look like a Looney Toons accident. So much that the new AMC show is more of a “reimagining” rather than and adaptation. I could write for days about how crazy Preacher is. I’ll give you one quick example: a man builds a giant woman out of meat, mostly animal carcasses, and makes love to it. Let that marinate. Luckily, showrunner Sam Catlin (co-writer of Breaking Bad) and executive producers Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen (Superbad 2007) are doing a great job of making Preacher its own program while honoring the comic source material.

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Both character and story development differ greatly between comics and television. TWD, Outcast, and Preacher all air one-hour weekly episodes. All three of these as comics, however, are (‘were’ for Preacher; it’s run ended in 2000) released once a month. Depending on the style of narrative a show is going for, changes have to be put in place. TWD comics take place roughly two years past the point that the show is at. Carl, the main character’s son, is about 17 years old in both. How is that, you ask? Great question! Allow me to explain. In a comic, the writer has the freedom to stretch the story arc for as long as he wishes. Contrary to that, live television does not present that luxury – unfortunately, people age. At a pivotal scene within TWD story as a whole, Carl is roughly eight in the comics, but 16 or 17 in the show. I give high praise to the writing team for both mediums. It’s a huge “WTF” moment in the comics, and the writing team does not disappoint with that same moment in the show. The writers added an original TV character of Carl’s age who became somewhat of a “troubled teen” enemy who ultimately and indirectly changes Carl’s life forever (no spoilers, but I know you know).

Every comic reader's reaction when IT happened on the show.
                               Poor, poor Carl. 

Fear is subjective. While one person may find the first issue of Outcast or TWD scary, the other may watch The Exorcist and laugh. This is where producers adapting a horror comic to the small screen have to recognize something; comic readers don’t jump while reading. Just like a good horror movie, producers want to scare the viewer. Both Outcast and TWD have some good jump scares. Outcast has a creepier atmosphere as it deals with demonic possession. Preacher, as far as the comics go, is in the horror comic genre due to its gory violence and supernatural story. The show, however, doesn’t classify as horror. A supernatural show with violence and comedy is the best way to describe Preacher the television series.

Overall, I remain an optimist when it comes to the inevitable comic adaptions that are invading television. Originality in Hollywood is at an all-time low. As long as we can accept that, we can enjoy the remakes and adaptations that are being shoved down our throats. Adaptations, really, aren’t all that bad. The excitement I get when I see a character I care about come to life on screen is palpable. So if you’re reading this and currently do not watch at least one of these horror comic shows, you know what you need to do. You’ll thank me later.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Chris Wilson

Chris resides in Louisville, Kentucky, Home of actress Jennifer Lawrence and the late great Muhammad Ali. He is a huge movie buff and loves a good horror flick. He recently decided to start writing about horror movies so he could stop annoying his fiancée with his thoughts on them.

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