9 comics that should be TV shows

More than just superheroes…

Comics have already taken over the movies and now they’re conquering TV. We already have a swathe of superhero shows based on books from Marvel and DC: Arrow, The Flash, Gotham and more. Then there’s The Walking Dead. Robert Kirkman’s enormously popular zombie comic has become one of the biggest shows on TV. That’s just the start: we have shows based on Preacher and Archie heading our way in the near future (and wouldn’t Archie Vs Preacher be a killer crossover title?).

But we want more! There are loads of wonderful comics that would also make fantastic shows. Here are some of our favourites…

Button Man (from 2000AD)

The comic: It’s rare for 2000AD to run a non-SF, fantasy or horror strip, but this thriller was a blistering exception.

Judge Dredd creator John Wagner and artist Arthur Ranson were behind the story of Harry Exton an ex-SAS type who finds himself embroiled in the killing game a high-stakes contest where the rich pit highly-skilled button men against each other, while sitting back and enjoying the show. A highly-skilled warrior, Harry makes big money in the game, but when he decides to quit, he discovers that isn’t an option…

Why it would be great: It’s a simple, exciting premise one that would work well on both sides of the pond, provided the right channel or production team got hold of it. The comic ran for four volumes (the first three making up a superb trilogy, the fourth being a slightly redundant sequel). It was even partially inspired by a TV show Ranson has said that Twin Peaks was an inspiration for the comic’s disquieting visual style.

Strangers In Paradise

The comic: Strangers In Paradise was a long-running relationship comic with an irresistible twist. Katina Katchoo Choovansi is caught in a love triangle between her two best friends, Francine and David. Katchoo is in love with Francine, Francine is in love with David and David loves Katchoo who, for her part, feels hella confused. But while they fret about what to do, a dark secret from Katchoo’s past comes back to haunt her turns out she used to be involved with organised crime.

Why it would be great: Part thriller, part comedy, part treatise on the nature of love, SiP would make a fantastic ongoing character drama. The main characters are all flawed and loveable and the thriller angle adds a touch of Breaking Bad-style action.

Sex Criminals

The comic:The hottest cult comic of the moment in more ways than one Sex Criminals mixes a delicious high-concept (a girl discovers that she can literally freeze time when she orgasms, meets a guy with the same power and the two decide to rob banks) with humour, sass and sincere meditations on mental health and sexuality. Chasing them down are the fascistic forces of the self-styled Sex Police.

Why it would be great: Because the original is hilarious and sad and joyful and absurd and grounded all at the same time. It would make a fantastic comedy-drama, though it would need a network that is happy to portray graphic sex. Happily this show may very well see reality. Co-creator (with artist Chip Zdarsky) Matt Fraction and his wife, Kelly Sue Deconnick, recently signed a deal with Universal to bring some of their work to the small screen and Sex Crims is number one on their list of potential shows.

Fantastic Four

The comic: Bear with us on this one yes, the new movie has flopped hard. But that doesn’t mean that the basic idea isn’t sound. Indeed, Marvel’s first family have thrived for over 50 years in comics. Sue Storm, Reed Richards, Ben Grimm and Johnny Storm are transformed by cosmic rays and use their powers to fight evil. What’s not to like?

Why it would be great: It’s doubtful that we’re going to be seeing FF2 any time soon, but you can bet that Fox is going to jealously hold on to that delicious Marvel IP. So how about taking it to TV. There was always something slightly soapy about the dynamics between Reed, Sue, Johnny and Ben so why not extrapolate that and make a long-form super-serial?


The comic: This gritty Viking saga ran for 50 issues and was a huge fan favourite. Rather than trotting out the old clichs, Brian Wood’s series took more realistic approach to what life would have been like in those brutal times.

Why it would be great: Game Of Thrones is still the hottest show on TV. A Northlanders show could feature a similar mixture of drama, violence and political intrigue against a far more realistic backdrop. And with no fixed protagonist (each arc featured different characters in different periods of the Viking age), it could make a fascinating historical anthology show a sort of Norse True Detective if you will.

Y: The Last Man

The comic: One of the biggest cult successes of the past few decades was Brian K Vaughan and Pia Guerra’s excellent Y: The Last Man. Set in a post-apocalyptic world (fans of The Walking Dead would dig it), it’s the tale of Yorick the only survivor of a disease that wipes out every other man on the planet.

Why it would be great: The comic was referenced a couple of times on Lost (and Vaughan ended up working on that show), won two Eisner awards and has been considered for film adaptation. But it’s such a sprawling, intricate work it’s hard to imagine the movies doing it justice. Nope, give this thing five seasons and a charismatic young lead and you’re sorted.


The comic:The long-running Vertigo title just published its final edition after an epic run of 150 issues. What better time, then, to make the leap to TV? Fables is the story of fairytale characters who have been forced out of their homeland and into our real world. They set up home in New York, but life doesn’t get any easier.

Why it would be great: Over its long run, the series gleefully hopped from genre-to-genre (murder mystery, WW2 drama, Arthurian adventure and so on) a boon for any adapter. In fact, a Fables show has been in and out of development for several years, with both NBC and ABC having expressed an interest in it. However, creator Bill Willingham stated in 2010 that the show was probably dead and the existence of ABC’s similar Once Upon A Time would seem to confirm that.

The Wicked + Divine

The comic: Phonogram‘s creative team of Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie reunited for this ongoing tale of pop music and gods incarnated on Earth. In The Wicked + The Divine humans merge with the Pantheon supernatural beings who grant their hosts amazing powers but at a cost they will die in just two years.

Why it would be great: While there are moments of spectacle, most of the drama comes from the characters and it’s easy to imagine this making a great, subversive and sparky serialised drama on Channel 4.

Mouse Guard

The comic: This medieval fantasy adventure has one major twist: its main characters are all mice. But the adventures of the Mouse Guard a group of warriors who have sworn to protect civilians are anything but cute. Their battles against snakes, monstrous crabs and deadly militia are played completely for real. These are believable characters who just happen to be mice, and it’s heartbreaking when they die.

Why it would be great: Mouse Guard would make a fantastic animated series, mixing the medieval setting of Game Of Thrones with Attack On Titan‘s sense of scale and gore.

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