When it comes to looking for source material to adapt for the screen, there is no more fruitful place to look than the world of graphic novels. Not only do these books provide a vivid story world in which to operate, but the medium also presents film and TV makers alike with a clear visual sense of what might be put on the screen.
With graphic novels growing in popularity over the years, adaptions have been commissioned in their droves for both the big screen and the small, entertaining audiences across the globe. What are the best of these adaptions and, more importantly, why should you check out the books they are based on?
Why You Should Read Graphic Novels
First and foremost, the answer to this is simply that some of the best graphic novels out there either haven’t been picked up for adaption or, by their unique nature, are impossible to adapt, and you don’t want to miss out on these seminal stories.
Advances in technology and the willingness of production companies to put real money into adapting graphic novels have seen some of the best films and shows ever made finally be able to have justice done to them on screen, so why should you bother with reading what they are based on?
There is a phrase that states that ‘the book is better than the film’ has often been one for debate and is most certainly not a catch-all rule, but when it comes to graphic novels this is always the case. What is important to remember is that graphic novels aren’t just a stepping stone between prose fiction and film, but a medium entirely of their own. It thus follows that what can be achieved in this distinctive medium cannot necessarily be easily transferred onto the screen, and so to get a true feeling of what the original writers and artists intended, you are compelled to go back to the source and see the magic of your favorite stories at their inception.
Movies Based On Graphic Novels
When it comes to the film world, the adaptions of Alan Moore graphic novels have to be the starting point. Moore has created some of the most influential and timeless graphic novels ever written but, famously, will not have his name credited on any big-screen adaptions of his work because of his sincere belief that graphic novels cannot be adapted across formats. With that being said, the Wachowski sister’s treatment of Moore’s ‘V for Vendetta’ and Snyder’s rendition of ‘Watchmen’ stand up to this day as great films.
Of course, Moore is not the be-all and end-all of cinematic adaption. When it comes to the best graphic novel movies, there is something to please everyone. The cult hit of ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. The World’ is a masterclass of bringing graphic novels to life on screen, and its quirky take on the superhero genre is still as hilarious today as it was when it was first made. For true-crime fans, ‘My Friend Dahmer’ is a chilling exploration of a serial killer’s childhood (with notably more sensitivity to the subject than Ryan Murphy’s recent Dahmer series on Netflix). The noir styling of ‘Road to Perdition’ take the simple black-and-white comic panel of the source material and style the world of the film into that of a painting.
TV Shows Based On Graphic Novels
Given that many graphic novels come in several parts, it makes perfect sense why the world of TV has taken up the mantel of adaption and is a major factor in how ‘The Sandman’ series exceeded expectations earlier this year on Netflix.
As is Marvel wasn’t doing so much heavy lifting at the cinemas, it is also responsible for some of the best-rated TV adaptions so far, with the dark underbelly of Hells Kitchen exposed in ‘Daredevil’ and stellar performances in ‘Jessica Jones’ from Krysten Ritter in the title role and David Tennant as the endlessly fascinating villain Killgrave.
Perhaps one of the most exciting adaptions on the small screen is ‘Snowpiercer’, originally created by Jacques Lob and Jean-Marc Rochette. What is so brilliant about this adaption is that it takes the premise of the graphic novels and takes it in a completely different direction from the film by Bong Joon-ho.