Last week, I started series for the month of February pitching some ideas that haven’t yet been the subject of a “major motion picture,” but really need to be.
As my first one focused on historical figures, this week, I'll take a complete U-turn from the real world, and look at some comics books.
In fairness, Marvel hasn't done such a bad job bringing as many characters as possible into the fold, from Guardians of the Galaxy to Ant-Man and Captain Marvel. There are also plans to give characters like Howard the Duck and Dazzler adult animated series for Hulu.
Yet, they keep reworking and recasting Spider-Man to death, and may screw up the didn't-need-fixing Punisher, Daredevil and Luke Cage castings in Disney reboots.
Same goes for DC and my favorite comic book character since I was a kid: Batman. Please don't make me get sick of him with more bad casting and overuse.
I have to say I'm intrigued by the young James Bond-like Alfred Pennyworth series in the works. I'm also hearing about the possibility of a Lobo film. If that ever happens I have to give credit to any fraggin' bastich who makes it happen.
However, like full novels and prose, there are piles and piles of comic characters, not to mention indie titles out there, that I want to see as either movies or series. Let's start with these three:
Kurt Busiek's Astro City:
There is nothing but mad talent behind Astro City, from writer Busiek to illustrator Brent Anderson and cover artist Alex Ross. This series was diverse in the race, lifestyles, backgrounds, species and ages of characters long before it was forced down everyone's throats.
It works because the main focus is telling a great story, not trying to fill in any demographic void. And what fun stories they are. Some are action-packed and exciting; others are thoughtful and melancholy, and some are just downright heartbreaking. But Astro City is consistently a good read. Even some of the more recent story arcs that tend to get a little more political than they should still mange to weave a good tale.
Since starting out in 1995, this series has gone through various publishers from Image to its current home with Vertigo, and has helped Busiek and fellow creators amass several fan awards, as well as Eisner and Harvey Awards.
Read the first trade compilation, Life in the Big City, or the story arc collection for ex-villain Steeljack,Tarnished Angel, and you'll have a desire to see these characters brought to life in a movie or series.
Since 2003, there have been talks of movie plans without them coming to fruition, but this one might actually make it as a series soon. As late as last year, the studio behind Neil Gaiman's American Gods series was planning on creating an Astro City series. I'm hoping this one works, but I haven't been able to find anything about this since the initial announcement in March 2018. I'm withholding my excitement until there's more news.
Bigby Wolf, as seen in a page from Fables' The Wolf Among Us, is fan favorite characters who deserves some star treatment. What's Jeffrey Dean Morgan schedule like? Image © Vertigo Comics
When Bill Willingham's dark, addictive fairy tale series was launched in 2002 from Vertigo Comics, it was well before series such as Grimm or Once Upon A Time were a thing. Unfortunately, its these two shows that likely helped keep the better-written Fables from ever getting its own series.
Willingham tapped into everything from the Grimm's fairy tales, to world folklore, to classic literature to bring in new looks at some "fictional" characters living and surviving in Fableton out of the line of sight of the real (Mundy) world. Plus, he took the definitive storybook bad-guy, Big Bad Wolf, and turned him into the noir-ish detective badboy Bigby Wolf, who successfully wooed Fableton political big-wig Snow White.
There have been talks about television series and movies for this property as recently as 2015 with names like producer David Heyman attached, but nothing has come of these so far.
Why do they make movies on one-trick-pony toy properties like Trolls or Ugly Dolls when there are so many all-ages comics filled with colorful characters and imagination to tap into? Case in point, if you haven't read Otis Frampton's all-ages comic, Oddly Normal, you should.
It's clever, fun, and lively, and deals with adolescent problems such as bullying and fitting in without all the politics. Oddly Normal is the name of a pointy-earred, green-haired girl with a human dad from Earth and witch mother from a place called Fignation. It's no surprise Oddly has a hard time fitting in and making friends.
After making a wish on her tenth birthday that leads to her parents' disappearance, she has to travel to Fignation to find them...and learn to fit in with an entirely different school crowd.
One of the things fun about this one is there are some literary references aimed at more mature readers. There is nothing whatsoever unsuitable for young readers either. The story and characters are perfect all ages. Framptom's clean and stylized art is also appealing.
Make it animated. Make it stop-motion. Make it live action. Just make it!
Next Week: Remember when they made cheesy, cringe-worthy movies based on song lyrics? Let's do that again, only with better songs.
Cover Images ©DC Comics (Astro City and Fables) and Image Comics