Saturday, March 1, 2008

I'm Ready for My Close-up, Mr. DeFalco: Blurring the Lines of Film and Comics

By Chris Buchner

Comics are no stranger to the motion picture medium of storytelling. Comics have often been called movies without budgets, while the storyboards used in movies have been regarded as nothing more than unfinished comic panels. The two mediums have crossed over continuously, with movies and TV taking and adapting ideas from comics onto film, and comics taking ideas from and adapting movies and TV shows into print. To further blur the line, creators from each medium have begun to cross over to work in the other, creating a fine flowing circle between Hollywood and the printing press. This mutual relationship has ushered in a new trend.

Has your favorite TV show ended? Well, it doesn’t have to. While the concept of TV being adapted into comics is not a new one (various cartoons from the 80s and 90s, the Star Trek franchise, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer franchise, etc.) it is a new one to make the books not only spin-offs from the show, but to CONTINUE the show through them. Two of the most recent examples of this are IDW Publishing’s Star Trek: Year Four and Angel: After the Fall (or Season 6), and Dark Horse’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season Eight.

The original Star Trek was envisioned as a five season series by creator Gene Roddenberry (hence the “five year mission” introduction spoken by Captain Kirk, played by William Shatner, at the start of every episode) before it was unsuspectingly cancelled after its third season. Since then, it had gained a tremendous following that resulted in spin-offs, movies, and comic books. Year Four continues the adventures of the original U.S.S. Enterprise (in terms of real-time, as that honor in canon would now go to the Enterprise in the prequel spin-off Star Trek: Enterprise) as it continues to boldly go where no one has gone before.

Season Eight and After the Fall act in much the same way, picking up from the final seasons of Buffy and Angel and exploring the sub-plots left dangling that the shows never completely resolved. Adding to the authenticity of that transition between mediums, series creator Joss Whedon wrote the first arc of Buffy before handing it off to Brian K. Vaughn for the next, while merely overseeing the production of Angel written by Brian Lynch (whom Whedon felt was perfect for the task thanks to his one-shot Spike: Asylum).

Movies have taken to this as well. With the success of Freddy vs. Jason, talks for the sequel began with most of the ideas being thrown out involving the inclusion of another horror franchise character in the mix. The most popular choice was Ashley J. Williams, the hero from Sam Raimi’s cult classic Evil Dead franchise. Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash was a hot topic, eagerly anticipated by fans and people involved with the film, including Jeff Katz who penned the treatment for it. However, Raimi decided against it and the idea was trashed. That is until New Line tossed out the idea of turning the concept into a comic book. Wildstorm, an imprint of DC Comics and current rights holders to the New Line horror franchises, teamed up with Dynamite Entertainment, the current rights holder of Army of Darkness comics, and produced a 6-issue mini-series based on Katz’s initial treatment (which can be found on

Comics offer a unique opportunity for TV and movie productions to be made without all the hassle of budgetary constraints, constant re-shooting, and temperamental actors. This allows the universe of the production to be expanded upon in ways never before possible. Sure, we lose little things like the physical and audible nuances of the characters given by the actors, but when it’s something you’ve been wanting to see for a long time, little sacrifices like that are worth it.

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