Dollhouse Comic Coming in March

Diamond sent out the cover for the next Previews catalog, out December 29.

January PREVIEWS Cover

I was surprised to note that it was promoting Dollhouse: Epitaths, a comic book version of the canceled science fiction TV show coming from Dark Horse Comics in March. I hadn’t heard that the show was going to have a comic adaptation. Here’s how Diamond describes it:

Dollhouse: Epitaths will be written by TV series writers Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen and continue a story set in the post‐apocalyptic future in which mind‐wiping technology has gone viral. Originally, this technology was used by each Dollhouse to provide its “Dolls” with the memories and skills necessary to complete a given mission. Now, however, that technology has been abused by the Rossum Corporation and people around the globe have had their memories erased. Only a select few that have avoided this fate can save the world.

I was even more surprised when I stumbled across this article with creator Joss Whedon from January of this year, which says:

Whedon explained that a comic continuation seems highly unlikely.

“The only time it crosses my mind is when [Dark Horse Comics editor] Scott Allie pesters me as he did the other day, saying, ‘”Epitaph One” sounds like a comic! It’s post-apocalyptic!’ But my answer is ‘No.’ It’s pretty unequivocal. It could change, but I need to do the next thing, and I do spend an enormous amount of my career replatforming things I already did. After a while, it starts to just seem a little morbid.”

Beyond the fact that “Dollhouse” as a series is not solely under his own control legally, the writer felt that even with its sci-fi bent the premise of the series wouldn’t translate well to comics. “I don’t think it’s a comic. It’s a TV show…apparently not a Fox show, but it is a TV show. There are themes in it and ideas that could work in a comic, but for me to spend the amount of time it would take keeping the comic true to what’s already out there when I’m already doing that with ‘Buffy’ would be a ridiculous waste of my time. And ultimately that would net me a piece of something that belongs to Fox. It just makes no sense to do a comic with ‘Dollhouse.’ I don’t get it, and I’m not sure I’d read it. And in the amount of time it would take, I intend to do more comics, but I intend to do new comics. I’d like to throw some new ideas. And I’d like to continue ‘Buffy’ and make sure we don’t flip there and we really keep it coming.”

The best-laid plans and all that, I guess. The comic was originally packaged as an extra with the season 2 DVD set — I don’t know if it’s still available that way.

Dark Horse’s site promotes Epitaphs as “an excellent introduction to the upcoming comics series!” so it looks like there’s more to come. MTV says a five-issue miniseries in late summer.

15 Responses to “Dollhouse Comic Coming in March”

  1. Dwight Williams Says:

    Okay…so what changed Whedon’s mind on this? I don’t imagine there’s a lot of people who will complain if they’re reassured that Whedon’s okay with this.

  2. Grant Says:

    I haven’t enjoyed a comic adaptation of a TV show yet. I really wanted to like the Farscape comic because that was one of my all time favorite shows but it’s really terrible. Same with the Star Trek comics and the Star Wars stuff that has the movie characters in it.

    Aside from the usually dismal writing, or at best, decent writing that simply fails to capture the magic of the show, there’s something about the way the artists try to capture the look of the actors that causes a strange disconnect with me. It’s like they draw a regular comic book character and then put a mask of the tv characters over already drawn faces. It just puts me off.

    I think in the history of tv/movie to comic adaptations, the only one that’s worked for me is John Byrnes “Space 1999″ and Marvels Planet of the Apes adaptations.

  3. Johanna Says:

    The Muppet Show is the best comic adaptation from TV ever. I also kind of liked some of the CSI comics (both the Tokyopop and IDW comic versions). But in general, I think you’re right — for me, a show becomes a favorite in part due to the performances, and turning those characters and actors into flat images takes away some of the appeal.

  4. Grant Says:

    I would think a comic book based on one of those procedural shows would be virtually impossible to pull off. Like a comic book on Law and Order.

  5. Johanna Says:

    I thought that, because those shows are so much about the case and the format and not so much about the characters, they worked pretty well in another format.

  6. Thad Says:

    The other thing is that it seems unnecessary; the finale did a pretty good job of tying the series up in a bow. The only gap in the story I really wanted to see filled in was Alpha’s.

    The cover’s too Photoshoppy for my tastes (never could get into the Serenity minis because the artist bent over backwards drawing the actors instead of drawing the CHARACTERS), but apparently the interior artist is a different guy. I just got laid off so I’m going to have to be more selective about my purchases, but $3.50 at least puts it on my “I’ll think about it” list.

    Regarding the TV adaptation discussion: yeah, the Doctor Who comic’s next on my “not going to pick that up anymore” list; it’s not BAD but, well, “not bad” isn’t good enough anymore now that I won’t have a steady paycheck.

    And I love Muppet Show but don’t think I’ll stick with it after Langridge leaves.

  7. Prankster Says:

    I’ve been rewatching Dollhouse and, while it gets off to a VERY shaky start, it truly does become a genuinely great show with a pretty epic scope.

    While I understand Whedon’s insistence on not remaking everything he’s done, I think he’s flat-out wrong about Dollhouse not being suited to comics form. Epitaph One and Epitaph Two are incredibly dense and potentially lay the groundwork for dozens more stories, though admittedly they’d be a major departure from the series. I think it mostly comes down to not wanting to put out an inferior product, which is a fair thing to be concerned about since Whedon is probably waaaaaaaay too busy to display any kind of quality control at the moment. Of course, Whedon seems to have been only tangentally involved with the show (he only wrote like, what, three episodes?), and they had a good stable of writers who seemed to know what they were doing.

    Whedon’s involvement in comics is weird. He seems to want to be involved with the medium, but he always seems to half-ass his comics scripts. Again, I guess it’s because he’s so busy, but he’s become an exemplar for the idea that “movies and TV are better and more important than comics”.

  8. Johanna Says:

    Thad, I’m sorry to hear about your job change. It’s often necessary — and even a good thing — to reevaluate habit buying when circumstances change. I find that I enjoy comics more when I’m restricted to just the ones I really want. I know that sounds like a silver lining to a really big cloud, though.

    I’m not sure there will be more Muppet Show after Langridge leaves. It certainly won’t be the same, anyway.

    Prankster, that’s a tough subject. In terms of money and people affected, movies and TV *are* more important than comics, so it’s tough to criticize that choice of priorities. On the other hand, it’s always difficult to see an ongoing story just die out because the creator is busy with other things and didn’t live up to his commitment. I’m still waiting for the end of The Twelve….

  9. Prankster Says:

    Yes, but if you’ve got TV deals and major blockbuster movies a-brewin’, why get involved in writing comics scripts at all if you can’t spare the time? Again, I assume it’s because Whedon can’t bear to let his properties go out without some level of involvement to keep them on track, which is admirable, but would it really be that hard to say “OK, I’ll do it, but can we wait until after this Avengers movie thing comes out?”

    The guy has a really bad habit of spreading himself too thin.

    However, I notice that the solicit credits his brother Jed and Maurissa Tancharoen, who seem to have been the major driving forces behind the show anyway. So it’s possible Whedon relented because he knew the comic was in good hands.

  10. Prankster Says:

    On another note, as a guy who has never had a major TV or movie deal (you’ll no doubt be shocked to learn), I still feel like comics offer a lot of advantages, like almost-complete creative control. And it IS possible, however rare, to make a bucketload of money off a comic; Jeff Smith is probably set for life, as is Bryan Lee O’Malley.

    As weird a career path as it would be, Joss Whedon probably could have devoted a year to writing a self-published or small press comic and made a good chunk of change. His fanbase would have followed him (they sure did on the Buffy comic) and he probably could have sold it back to Hollywood for adaptation with ease. And what’s more, he would have been able to keep all that money himself instead of splitting it with a huge corporate octopus.

    But I realize that would never happen, just as Whedon probably wasn’t going to pursue low-budget web series despite the success of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. The guy is wedded to the concept of success via the mainstream. Which in a way is frustrating, because he could totally shape the indie culture to his whim if he so desired, and probably help a lot of struggling outsiders on the way.

  11. Thom Says:

    I suppose I need to get around to watching that Dollhouse season 1 Blu-Ray set I got for $9.99 at Amazon a few weeks back…

  12. Prankster Says:

    You should. But stick with it the whole way through; the first few episodes are extremely weak, but it gets AMAZING.

  13. Dwight Williams Says:

    Prankster: I take your point re: the writers involved with the comics.

  14. JeffG Says:

    Phil Noto. Goes in the buy column for me, at least to try…

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