- Posted by Johanna on April 10, 2009 at 8:50 pm
- Category: Meta
A thought struck me after reading Ed’s Battlestar Galactica review … what are the best licensed comics?
There are a ton of not very good ones, but which ones really capture the feel of the original material? Just for discussion, let’s stick to TV shows. It would also be nice if they were good comics whether or not you know the characters. Here are a couple of my suggestions.
The Muppet Show — Maybe it’s too early to declare, with only one issue out, but it was really good. This title also has the advantage of not having to match likenesses of people, since it’s about puppets.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 — Having the original creators involved means a lot.
Historically, KC nominates Dobie Gillis for its great Bob Oskner artwork. He also mentioned that Alien, by Archie Goodwin and Walt Simonson, is generally considered one of the best adaptations of all time, but that’s different, because it wasn’t new stories with the same characters.
Licensed comics are difficult. Artists need to be able to do likenesses and have a style well-suited for the property. Often, they’re selected on other qualities (like availability). The reader often misses the subtleties of performance and movement and the actor’s personality that they got on the show. What you wind up being left with is plot, and then you can’t do much with that, because the show wants to maintain control. If it’s still running, then nothing big is going to happen in a comic, and if it isn’t, then many of the viewers aren’t going to care. Writers also can’t make a change the series isn’t going to reflect.
Given all that, maybe it would be smarter to adapt sitcoms instead of the big-deal science fiction properties that are frequently chosen, but the latter has more natural audience crossover with comics.
Another advantage was demonstrated in the recent Eureka miniseries (which was disappointing otherwise): they were able to use characters played by actors who they couldn’t or didn’t get to return and continue working with them.
Has anyone read the Ghost Whisperer adaptation? That seems like it would be a good property to use, since the material is episodic, and there isn’t a lot of character development on the show anyway.
Ultimately, it boils down to creators — if someone talented knows, likes, and respects the property, you’re going to end up with something better than someone doing a job on a book that exists just because the publisher could get the license.
So, which licensed TV comics are Worth Reading?
Update: Now I see that Tokyopop is going to be doing a book called CSI: Interns. That appears to be the most minimal level of licensing: name only. The characters and story sound like they’ll be different from the show.