Top 10 Franchises We Can’t Believe Aren’t Comics

A column article, Top Ten by: Steve Morris

Comics are tying to other mediums more now than they ever have in the past. Novels like Dexter are becoming comics, while comic book movies have become some of the most profitable in the industry. Green Arrow has his own TV series, while countless other properties are either going to be comics soon, or have been in the past. But there are still a number of high-profile exceptions.

Now, I understand that some of these properties have been comics in the past – but for the purpose of this list, we're talking about a mainstream, lasting comic, which made a proper impression on the industry. Here are ten famous and beloved properties which have still yet to make a full transfer across to the comics medium. For some reason.

 

Pirates of the Caribbean

Pirates of the Caribbean

Why it should be a comic:

Pirates! The seafaring adventure story seemed to have died in the 1990s, after a series of previous film and TV failures such as Cutthroat Island and Waterworld made it seemingly apparent that people didn’t want to see stories set on the high seas anymore. Yet all it took was a sprinkle of Disney magic and a rollicking half-drunk performance from Johnny Depp to bring an entire genre back to life. Yoho!

Pirates of the Caribbean was an immediate success, with the franchise as a whole proving to be worth billions in box office. And you can see why – the mythology introduced in the first film made pirates fun drunks who went from port-to-port questing after magical artefacts, dabbling in spiritualism, and getting into mass brawls. There’s a sense of humour to the series which would be perfectly suited to comics, and Jack Sparrow is an iconic character who could hold a series even in this climate.

 

Why we probably won’t see it:

The franchise tanked almost immediately in terms of creativity. The first film was great, but the sequels gained a rapid reputation for long-winded, bloated storytelling. While fans still flocked to see the movies, the people who go to see Orlando Bloom pout aren’t the same people who buy comics.

 

Veronica Mars

Veronica Mars

Why it should be a comic:

The three series we got of this American detective series simply weren’t enough. But more importantly, Veronica Mars seems to be a classic example of a TV show which was hamstrung by the medium it chose. After the brilliant first season, the show struggled to utilise the cast it had signed on. If it’d been a comic, the supporting characters could’ve been jettisoned, but because this was TV, creator Rob Thomas had actors and contracts he couldn’t work around. If the show had made it to a fourth season, it would’ve been able to finally get away from the premise it trapped itself in and move in a new direction. Thomas had planned for his heroine to join the FBI, but sadly the show was cancelled before that happened.

With a dynamic female lead, the franchise could still make for a dynamite comics series even now. The voice for the show was unique and would translate to comics. And the news would probably make Kristen Bell happy. Isn’t that something we should all want to make happen?

 

Why we probably won’t see it:

The DVDs sales were really bad, indicating to Warner Bros that perhaps they shouldn’t bother passing the format on to DC Comics.

 

Keith Richards

Keith Richards

Why it should be a comic:

Okay, I need to explain this a little. Basically, after reading Keith Richard’s autobiography, I became convinced that his life should be put to comics. Just retelling his life, word for word, would be a worthwhile exercise.

You can take his autobiography, cut and paste the stories as he tells them, and simply put them into sequential art form with the help of people like J.H. Williams III, Chris Bachalo, or Mike Allred. You’d sell millions, and probably inspire countless youngsters to the merry ol’ world of drugs.

 

Why we probably won’t see it:

You’d never get the likeness rights for any of the Stones for less than a billion dollars.

 

Goosebumps

Goosebumps

Why it should be a comic:

Comics have already toyed with R.L. Stein’s series of horror books, which are some of the highest selling books of all time, but they’ve never made a proper go of things, which seems to be a massive shame. There’s a disconnect in comics where children are concerned. We pitch characters like Batman at kids, but not one of the current Batman comics is suitable for anybody under 12.

We want kids to read comics but at the same time we don’t produce anything for them! And the options they do have are aimed at children in pre-school, rather than the prime market of children between 8-12.

A little bit of darkness never hurt anybody, and Goosebumps is a horror series which is just scary enough to be exciting for kids, but just restrained enough that parents don’t have to worry about buying it. The stories are fun camp, meaning they’d also appeal to an older audience as well.

 

Why we probably won’t see it:

The comics industry still haven’t grasped that kids don’t have to be coddled. You either get dayglo Spider-man stories or you get Geoff Johns ultraviolence. Nobody seems interested in the middle ground.

 

Legend of Zelda

Zelda

Why it should be a comic:

Oh, c’mon! If there was ever a video game suited to be turned into a comic series, then it’s Zelda. The very richest of mythology, the most colourful and diverse range of supporting characters of practically any game, and the strongest, most epic storytelling. The hero of the series, Link, fights monsters, makes friends with rock giants, and travels through time. He has a sword, bow-and-arrow, a horse named Epona, and a classic villain in the form of Ganondorf.

Sure, Link never says anything, but if he hangs around with that gobby Zelda, that shouldn’t be a problem. The Legend of Zelda is one of the most well-respected franchises in video games, and comics and games tend to share an audience.

Most Zelda games are also based around a series of dungeons, each of which holds a treasure. Each arc could be a different dungeon, with multiple sub-plots threaded into them.

 

Why we probably won’t see it:

Well, there have been Zelda comics in the past, but you’d never get a mainstream version approved by Nintendo’s lawyers. I’ll probably get sent a hefty stack of paperwork just for suggesting the idea.

 

The Famous Five

The Famous Five

Why it should be a comic:

Another famous literary series, but this time featuring a series of kids characters who worked better in concept than practise. Don’t get me wrong; the Famous Five books were a staple of my childhood, but looking at them now… boy, are they racist. If you aren’t aware The Famous Five are a group of kids (and their dog Timmy) who are perpetually going off on trips to Wales or the Lake District. However, without fail, these trips always lead the five into some kind of mystery which needs to be solved, and crooks who need to be stopped.

Whether going to the circus or taking trips to their island (they have their own island!), the stories are great fun, even if Blyton’s writing is a product of its time. However, if you get a contemporary writer to handle these stories, you could have a winning series of graphic novels within a few months. The characters sparkle, and the premise is an evergreen one. There’s a bit of a trend for retro Britishness at the moment – you don’t get much more British than the Famous Five.

 

Why we probably won’t see it:

Did the Famous Five ever become “famous” outside the UK? I’m not sure America knows who they are.

 

Harry Potter

Harry Potter

Why it should be a comic:

Because it’s the most popular franchise of all time, I think would be the reason here. JK Rowling’s tales of a teenage wizard and his journey through school have thrilled billions of people, and led to a series of films which made Rupert Grint famous. Rupert Grint! The Harry Potter series can do anything.

While you couldn’t really do stories about the main characters without having to involve yourself in the existing plots Rowling already had going on, you could definitely do a lot of interesting things with some of the supporting cast. Rowling ran out of room for many of her subplots over the course of the series, and you could do worse than feature some of the later Quidditch tournaments. You could even set the books up as a prequel, and tell the story of Harry’s parents and Voldermort’s first reign of terror. Ooh, now there’s an idea!

 

Why we probably won’t see it:

Because JK Rowling would never let anybody else write the characters.

 

Batman ‘66

Adam West Batman

Why it should be a comic:

As I said earlier, we have something like five Batman books out at the moment, and not one of them is all-ages. The main book featured Batman getting stabbed through the chest, Detective Comics and Dark Knight are violent and adult in nature. Batman and Robin also deals with adult themes, whilst Batman Inc surely leaves most kids completely bemused and bored. Why isn’t there a Batman book which anybody can pick up and read?

That book should be Batman ’66. Basing a comic off the classic Adam West TV series would let writers revel in Batman’s inherent campiness, and create fun from the character rather than dark edginess. Each arc is two issues long, with a different villain – they catch Batman and put him in a deathtrap at the end of the first issue, before he escapes and stops their scheme in part 2. And repeat! It’d be the most fun Batman comic of all time.

Why we probably won’t see it:

DC seem resigned to Batman being an “adult,” self-important character. He’s not allowed to be fun anymore!

Yes, our prediction was wrong when this article was written two years ago - and isn't it great that it was?

 

Indiana Jones

Indiana Jones

Why it should be a comic:

After the third Indiana Jones film finished, Harrison Ford decided to become the grumpiest, least charismatic film actor of all time, for some reason. Ever since that film, he’s been a chore to watch on the big screen, which certainly didn’t help Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. But the premise of the character – an action archaeologist who races to find rare artefacts before the Nazis do – is pulp at its finest. It’s childhood camp, but done in a fashion which seems tailor-made for comics. Indy himself is a personable, entertaining lead character, and there’s just enough of a mythology in the surrounding characters that you could build something around him.

You get to mix action, adventure, myth, and silliness and take the character around the world on a series of fist-flinging, whip-cracking quests. Surely there’s an audience for that.

 

Why we probably won’t see it:

We’ve had this on a small scale before, but nothing on a widescreen. George Lucas held back Crystal Skull for years because he couldn’t think of a good enough MacGuffin for the character to chase after. That led to a story where Indiana Jones chases after aliens. If Lucas gets involved, the comic would never get anywhere – and if it did, it’d get there terribly.

Seriously, the guy hasn’t made a creatively sound decision in decades.

 

James Bond

James Bond

Why it should be a comic:

James Bond is one of the most recognisable characters in cultural history. Deadly and grim in the novels, then outlandish and charismatic in the films, this is a character whose narrow range happens to encompass the most enjoyable elements of popcorn nonsense. He beds beautiful women, gambles and drinks round the world, shoots bad guys and zings their corpses with exquisite one-liners. He’s Sean Connery and Roger Moore. He’s Daniel Craig and Pierce Brosnan. He’s also those other two guys. He’s iconic.

Spy stories are in short supply, and I’ll always want more of them. If the best way to give me spy stuff is to do it via the medium of Bond, then I’ll take it, gladly. Even when they’re bad, the Bond films are riotously good fun, and the verve and passion of the series would translate well to comics, where writers could go to town with their set-pieces. Bond would make for a brilliant comic book hero.

 

Why we probably won’t see it:

SHUT UP I DON’T WANT TO HEAR EXCUSES. GET ME MY JAMES BOND COMICS ALREADY

 


Steve Morris is the head and indeed only writer for – Comics Vanguard, the internet's 139th most-favorite comic-book website. You can find him on Twitter at – @stevewmorris, which is mostly nonsensical gibberish you may enjoy or despise. His favorite Marvel character is Darkstar, while his favorite DC character is, also, Darkstar. He's on Team X-Men, you guys.

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