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Avril Brown Presents:


Say farewell to the days when ‘cancelled’ meant the death of your favorite TV show. Bid adieu to the times when ‘The End’ translated to the last chance you’ll have to read new stories about beloved characters.

Nowadays, if there is enough of a fan following (and if the Powers That Be can be swayed), TV shows and books are continuing their lives in comic book form.

I for one think this is a fantastic idea. It brings in new readers that otherwise wouldn’t even bother visiting a comic book shop. It opens new eyes that would otherwise remain shut to this colorful and imaginative world. And let’s face it; we need as much fresh blood as we can get.

In order to make a successful transition from other media to comic book form there are several important factors to be considered. Obviously as with any fandom, it is impossible to please everyone, but one step in the right direction is at least consulting the mind behind the original idea.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a prime example of this. Buffy comics have been around for awhile; quite honestly I’m not sure how long because I never bothered to pick up a Buffy comic before now. I came into the TV show a bit sideways. A couple of my roommates watched it my sophomore year at college, and if it was on when I would come home, I would take the time to make fun of them for watching a vampire show, and leave. Then I started to watch a bit before beginning the mockery and departing. Before long I was lessening the ridicule and increasing my time in front of the tube, and soon enough this unique and cleverly written concept became infused with my soul. This was the year Season Six was in syndication (praise be to the channel FX for constantly showing reruns of all the past seasons so I could catch up), therefore I only had a brief time to enjoy it on TV before it was off the air. I had known the Buffy comic had existed, but I knew Joss wasn’t writing it, so quite honestly I could care less. Yet four years after Buffy the show bit the dust, Mr. Whedon announced Season Eight was coming to comic form…and he was kicking it off. I was sold.

Another essential element to a great comic adaptation is knowing what kind of story to tell. Some plot lines, like the latest Buffy comics, are the continuation of the show. Others, like the Dark Tower comics, are background tales within the series and extra tidbits which, until now, remained a mystery.

A friend of mine is a huge Stephen King fan, and when she heard his Dark Tower series had been adapted to comic books she decided to give it a try. I asked her what were the primary reasons she decided to pick up the comics, and she said knowing that Mr, King himself would be involved somewhat in the creation process of the Dark Tower comics was one motive. Another was the story concept: the comics are telling some of the untold tales within the Dark Tower book series. Not normally a comic book fan, this recent vet school graduate/permanent bookworm is now venturing into increasingly nerdy waters.

The story within the series idea can most certainly work. Um, can anyone say Firefly? There have been two comic stories following the crew of Firefly which take place before the events of the movie, Serenity. There are a multitude of reasons why this format works better than a continuation of the movie plot line, but personally, it comes down to one word: Wash. If you’re not a fan, first of all, you should be, and secondly you should know that Joss is evil incarnate and loves to kill off beloved characters and leave true loves behind to mourn them.

Another vital aspect for a successful conversion from a TV show to comic form is the art. The penciller must be able to accurately represent the characters. Fans should be able to recognize who’s who right away otherwise the story just won’t flow. Scratching our heads while we try and figure out which character is which deters from what is going on in the book.

Sometimes though, a book can have the essential elements and still not fly. I picked up the first Doctor Who comic produced by IDW, which follows the continuing adventures of the Tenth doctor and his companion Martha Jones, and although enjoyable it wasn’t enough to make me cough up the dough for subsequent issues. Although having the Doctor in comic form means more flexibility when it comes to the monsters, the show isn’t about how cool the creatures look. Many of the monsters used in Buffy are designed to be a bit more believable in the sense the most prominent of them come from popular folklore. In the case of Doctor Who, the show is known, and expected, to be totally and completely campy, and the ridiculous looking costumes are a part of that. The things which occupy the whole of space and time, no matter how cheesy they may be, are part of the true charm of the show. The antics and dialogue of the Doctor and his companion are the other part of that allure. Gary Russell, the writer of the recent comic adaptation, has been involved with Who for years, yet David Tennant’s signature rapid-fire rants as the Doctor on the TV show are too distinctive to be represented well in the comic, making the pace of the book not nearly as snappy as it is on the show.

Translating TV shows and books into comic books is an inspired idea and a wonderful way to bring in new readers. Comics have always been more than twenty odd pages of glossy and creative wonderfulness, and now a whole new genre of readers are discovering this fact. Comic books are becoming the past, present and future of beloved characters which decline to die. They are the rebirth of worlds which refuse to be forgotten. And as long as there are writers, artists and more importantly FANS whom are up to the task, we can all expect more survivors on the path ahead.

Avril Brown

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