15 TV Shows and Movies That Should Be Comics

Books Lists

Some characters are so weird, wild or compelling that a few movies just aren’t enough. Sure, you may get a couple of decent sequels, but actors get old, and you invariably end up with Arnold Schwarzenegger pushing 70 as he signs on to reprise his Terminator role. And sometimes you get Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Enter comics. A medium practically tailor-made for the stories and characters that we just can’t let go of. A medium in which the sagas last forever, and mortality is barely a technicality. A comic series can add to the main continuity or just complement it by filling in some gaps. But most importantly, it’s a relatively cheap way to get more out of characters we love when movies and TV shows are increasingly more expensive to produce.

Comics have given Buffy the Vampire Slayer an eighth and ninth season, not to mention spin-off series like Angel & Faith and the fan-favorite Spike , who has a new project in the works written by James Marsters himself. The X-Files gained a tenth season in comic form, not to mention the recent comic book rebirth of The Twilight Zone and the Serenity crew.

So, in the spirit of getting too much of a good thing, here are 15 more stories or characters that deserve a good sequential art makeover. We’ve also included who we think would be the dream creative team to usher it into reality.


1. 12 Monkeys
Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Jock

Terry Gilliam showed us a twisted world of pre- and post-apocalyptic lunacy in 12 Monkeys, moving us from the underground prisons of the future to the ramshackle asylums of the ‘90s. Considering this is a time travel story, it’s dealer’s choice on how and where to pick it up. Perhaps following a group of survivors through the viral doomsday, or the building of mankind’s cyberpunk sewer society, and on into the early time travel failures, sending their “volunteers” to all the wrong time periods. Comic readers would have to make do without the creepy organ-grinder music, but the core is ripe for comics.


2. 24
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Phil Jimenez

This one’s easy. There will always be a terrorist threat for Jack Bauer to thwart and information for him to torture out of suspects. You could even hold onto the real-time aspect by making each story a 24-issue limited series. And with Kiefer Sutherland reprising his role as CTU’s growling one-man death machine this summer, the timing couldn’t be better. Again, I’d say a 24 comic should loosen its grip on reality ever so slightly and veer into that realm of outlandishness that TV can’t support. Let Bauer do the even more impossible.


3. Archer
Writer: Adam Reed (if it ain’t broke)
Artist: Humberto Ramos

Admittedly an outlier, since it’s the only one on the list that’s still on TV, but you simply can’t have enough inappropriate humor. Besides it won’t be on forever, so might as well get things going now. The show is practically a comic book already, with most episodes depicting a new spycraft misadventure for the goons at ISIS. Granted, a lot of Archer’s success is due to the nuance and intonations of the voice acting, but there’s still a lot of Krieger bots, baby tattooing and rampaging through the Danger Zone to be done.


4. Back to the Future
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Ulises Farinas

Resist the temptation to create a Marty McFly comic set in the future, and go with Doc Brown. Last we saw the wild-haired doctor, he’s on a time machine made out of a steam engine with his wife and two kids, Jules and Verne. Sort of like a steampunk version of Lost in Space, Doc and family could bound through time having adventures, righting wrongs, and probably wronging rights that will have to be re-righted (time travel is wacky that way).


5. Carnivale
Writer: Scott Synder
Artist: Richard Isanove

This short-lived drama was pretty crazy to say the least. Though creator Daniel Knauf conceived the epic tale of good and evil as a 6-season arc, its cult following wasn’t enough to keep HBO from canceling it after only two. Four seasons worth of story could hit nearly 100 issues if played right. In fact, the story could probably take even more disturbing turns, getting into all sorts of mystical arcana that TV audiences may have shied away from.


6. Dirty Harry
Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Mike Henderson

Harry Callahan sired generations of fictional rogue cops — McClane, Riggs, Foley, McGarnagle — who cause copious amounts of property damage and whose partners rarely make it to the end credits unscathed. He prefers shooting to talking, doesn’t take any guff from bureaucrats and he stops bank robberies on his lunch break. Dirty Harry is a pretty timeless character, so a comic can drop him into any point of his chronology, before, during or after the movies, and just go. Recreating the ‘70s cinematic style would be fun, too, from the big cars and fluffy hair to the muted colors and grainy visuals.


7. Freaks and Geeks
Writer: Terry Moore
Artist: Mahmud Asrar

This is the show about high school misfits that makes everyone’s universal “gone too soon” list, and for good reason. You have to figure that if NBC knew the goldmine of talent it was sitting on, it would have given it more than a single season. There would be no guns or super powers in this hypothetical comic, just the kind of funny, kind of touching, mostly awkward tales of being an outcast in high school. The show is chock full of perennial themes, from fitting in to finding yourself. Pushing back against authority and embracing (or mocking) disco. Plus: Dungeons and Dragons.


8. Gangs of New York
Writer: Alan Moore
Artist: Bill Sienkiewicz

Continuing the story is tempting, but I’d much rather read about the rise of Bill the Butcher, that ferocious, Irish-hating, knife-toting psychopath. Daniel Day-Lewis breathed life into the character, filling him with such venom and rage that it was kind of a shame to see him go at the end. Bare-knuckle boxing and street brawls may be the big draws, but don’t forget the period slang, stovepipe hats and historical tidbits that make the one-eyed butcher’s world truly vibrant.


9. Kill Bill
Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Artist: Vanessa R. Del Rey

The crux of the Kill Bill epic is an all-or-nothing classic revenge yarn, based on The Bride murdering her former crew of badass assassins for turning on her. Well, how about a prequel? It would be great to see the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad in their prime, storming warlord compounds, swinging Hanzo Hattori swords and dismembering yakuza armies. Tarantino gave us a highly stylized kung fu story with gore and vivid colors, easily translatable to comics, but every character on the big hit list is as tough and intriguing as he or she is unique and deserves to be fleshed out. There’s an endless sea of adventures and interpersonal drama to plumb with this set up.


10. The Last Dragon
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Adam Kubert

If you read my coverage of NY Comic Con 2013, it’s no surprise that The Last Dragon made the list. By the end of the movie, Leroy has defeated Sho’nuff and the odious Eddie Arkadian, but how long can the happy ending last, right? New York City was a dangerous place in the late ‘80s, so between running his own dojo and helping at his father’s pizzeria, Leroy could protect the streets of Harlem from gangs, thugs and maybe even the crack epidemic. Balance all that darkness with hindsight and the humor to poke fun at all the funky outfits and hair, and you may even come close to recreating what makes the movie such a joy to watch even now.


11. Mad Max
Writer: Garth Ennis
Artist: Sean Murphy

With a new Mad Max video game due out this year, and a fourth installment in the movie franchise coming in 2015, it’s kind surprising this isn’t already a comic. Warner Brothers is behind the game and movie, and since they own DC, well, you know…synergy. They’ve started the ball rolling with a short motion comic tie-in for the game, so all they really need to do is keep it going. The art in the motion comic is on point, too, in terms of a post-apocalyptic outback road warrior aesthetic.


12. Miami Vice
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Fiona Staples

Speaking of the ‘80s, someone needs to continue the adventures of Crockett and Tubbs, the two slickest detectives in Miami. This revival shouldn’t be a GTA-style, tongue-in-cheek portrayal of the admittedly weird Reagan Era either. A Miami Vice comic deserves more. It may brim with palm trees, beach bodies and flashy cars, but it can still be a little noir, even in spite of Crockett’s neon shirts. Also, the Armani-clad duo may need to broaden their horizons so they aren’t constantly chasing after drug dealers. Just saying, that’ll get old eventually. Either way it would probably be a thrilling read, so hopefully someone will roll up his or her suit sleeves and create this.


13. Natural Born Killers
Writer: Mark Millar
Artist: Matteo Scalera

Mickey and Mallory Knox, the Bonnie and Clyde of the MTV generation, could get way more bloodthirsty in two dimensions. They spree-killed their way across the country before falling prey to a few too many snake bites, sentenced to separate lives behind bars. Naturally they escaped, and before murdering an Australian journalist on live television, they hint at starting a normal life — getting fat, raising kids, all that. The comic could pick up five or ten years later and see how that’s all going. Good god, what kind of ghoulish kids must they be raising?


14. Ripper from Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Writer: Mike Carey
Artist: Joe Madureira

It seems like every one else from Buffy gets a spin-off, so why not Giles? Word is there was supposed to be a Giles-centric TV series on BBC after the show’s big finale in 2003, but nothing ever materialized. With all the references to Rupert Giles and his youthful tough guy days when he was known as Ripper, it’d be a much different look at the wise old watcher. Plus, it would give us the chance to see the Buffy-verse in a whole different era. The series could follow a proto-scooby gang with Ripper and the puckish Ethan Rayne as they use sundry charms, talismans and magics to sort out all manner of supernatural trouble, and cause a bunch of it themselves. Like an A-Team of the occult.


15. Shaft
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Sean Phillips

Shaft is so ingrained in the pop culture lexicon that even decades after his inception, you still hear the name and slick theme song. However, whole generations are growing up clueless as to why he’s a such bad mother… shut your mouth. Comics-wise, Shaft would thrive as much in the present as he would in the ‘70s, though we all know where he belongs. Basically, we’re talking a detective story, but let’s face it, whatever Shaft is up to is bound to be pretty cool. You’re damn right.

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