Is Television the New Outlet for Comic Book Media?

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inferiorego

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Edited By inferiorego  Staff
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Live-action television shows based on comic book franchises are not a new thing. It's a great way to take a property that has an immense popularity with of a sub-culture of people and bring it to the masses. Taking a comic book property and turning it into an animated series is fun and all, but a lot of the times, you miss out on the adult population of the show. Most adults are more apt to checking out a live-action show rather than an animated series because of that pesky stigma that only cartoons are for kids. 
 
The most notable live-action television series that was ahead of the trend was the Adventures of Superman starring George Reeves. According to imdb, it ran from 1952-1958, and it was a hit for kids and adults. Through the years, there were numerous television series that tried this including The Green Hornet, Batman, Incredible Hulk, Lois and Clark, and so on, but other than Smallville, fans don't get a much of a variety of live-action comic book material.
 
Comic books have gone through a lot of changes since the 50s. Horror stories were popular, then love stories were. Space adventures were popular, then westerns were. It's always been a mixed bag. However, super-heroes have always remained a popular genre in comic book storytelling. Now-a-days, while super-heroes are still extremely popular, we see more of an epic storytelling element within the stories. No longer is a storyline completed within one to two issues. Story lines usually run six issues at minimum and sometimes a whole volume of the series can be the storyline. How could these hot property books with 60 issue stories fit into the world of film?
== TEASER ==   
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For the past decade, film has been the way to go for comic books. Titles like X-Men, Blade, and Spider-Man showed the public that comic books can be brought to life and they can be enjoyable for everyone. The formula worked for a while, but as each company gets deeper and deeper into their universes, it seems they're running out of well known characters and film-worthy stories. Additionally, maybe the audience is getting a little bored with the formula? How many times does the average person want to see a new person get super-powers, then beat the bad guy in a two hour film? This formula needs to change.
 
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Smallville has been on the air for almost a decade now, and readers, and non-readers alike, have enjoyed it. No longer a story is constricted to 2 hours. A story can last one hour or take place over numerous episodes making it a 4 hour epic if necessary. The idea can, but doesn't have to, work for the super-hero genre. The television format is much better suited for bigger books, like Walking Dead, where there is no evil the characters can beat within a two hour period. There is no final conclusion the writer's can rush to. The story just moves along and it ends when it is ready to end. 
 
There are more and more books coming out that just don't work as 2 hour movies. Look at Hellblazer, or it's film adaptation Constantine. Sure, the movie did what it could in two hours with a character who has had his own on-going series since the 80s, but wouldn't it have worked much better as a weekly show on HBO or Showtime? Many of the more popular series, especially at Vertigo, go on for quite a  number of issues, and the book is essentially just one big storyline ( Y: The Last Man and Preacher for example).
 
With Smallville ending soon, and Walking Dead just beginning, it seems the doors are finally opening to the world of comic books. Brian Michael Bendis' book Powers seems to have found a home on FX, and Walking Dead was picked up for another season, so it seems as the door for comic related media has finally opened. Within the next couple of years, we could see more and more live-action television series based on comics hit the small screen. Does this mean that the big budget, summer blockbuster, super-hero film will disappear? Highly unlikely. Television is just a medium for stories that can't be concluded in one sitting. Audience members will most likely get those non-super hero stories that aren't self-contained graphic novels that simply are too large to tell in 2 hours. Hollywood will still be making super-hero books and those self-contained graphic novels into summer blockbusters, but the non-hero fans will finally be getting a taste of what they love.
 
~Mat "Inferiorego" Elfring is a comedian, teacher, comic book writer, and comic store employee.
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mrjoshua327

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#1  Edited By mrjoshua327

I've always felt that TV is a great place for super hero/comic book material to end up.  If they put money into the show the way they did a show like 24 you would end up with great production values and actors.  They can build stories over an entire season and maybe every other season finale or just the series finale could be a feature film to pull out all the stops.
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Sergotron

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#2  Edited By Sergotron

Y the last man would make a great serialized show. The pace even matches that of a show.

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countvontrey

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#3  Edited By countvontrey

I feel that Watchmen should have been a 12 episode limited series on TV instead of a film. 

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Darkmount1

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#4  Edited By Darkmount1

While the animation route is, stated earlier, supposedly just for kids, this hasn't limited the prospect of an adult superhero cartoon. Anyone remember the Spawn cartoon on HBO? Prime example.  If the guys at DC weren't too chicken for this, they could have followed the same route as Spawn and then we could have had an animated "Crisis on Infinite Earths" miniseries on something like HBO or Showtime, like they did with "The Pacific", "John Adams", or right now, "Boardwalk Empire".

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rlmay3

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#5  Edited By rlmay3

TV is a great fit for comic books when you consider both work with serialized story telling. The movies work so hard to cram so much into two hours or so. Television would work better for developing characters instead of cramming character cameos. Plus the creators could tackle the bigger stories while still being able to focus on smaller ones.
 
At least to me, television makes just as much (if not more) sense for comic book storytelling as films. Then again, shows like Batman (Adam West), Incredible Hulk, and really even Smallville deviated from some of the themes and stories the fans look forward to most. If comic book shows could be faithful adaptations like Walking Dead or even some of the animated shows, I think they would be an even bigger success on the small screen.
 

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longbowhunter

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#6  Edited By longbowhunter

The only problem I see with comic to TV apaptations is the budget. If the money is there thats another story. A television series better fits the format  of comics. With a movie things gets rushed and left out.
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difficlus

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#7  Edited By difficlus

Just because Walking dead is making it doesn't mean its a new breeding ground for comics, every single form of media is been taken apart of by comics, its due to rising technology (this couldn't happen like it is now 60 years ago...). On that note i hope the success of walking dead will prompt a studio to take up invincible comics... 
@countvontrey
said:

" I feel that Watchmen should have been a 12 episode limited series on TV instead of a film.  "
Hmm...Alan Moore asked for stuff like that a decade ago but he couldn't get it...
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countvontrey

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#8  Edited By countvontrey
@difficlus: I thought I had heard as much before. I think it was specifically when Terry Gilliam was attached to direct. 
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Decept-O

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#9  Edited By Decept-O
@sergotron:   Have to agree with that.  I've only managed to read a few issues but I've often read where users and even CV Staff say similar things.   ( I think G-Man said that but I could be wrong ).  It would be quite interesting.
@countvontrey said:
"I feel that Watchmen should have been a 12 episode limited series on TV instead of a film.  "

You know, that is an idea that seems very plausible.  Oh, well, we have the movie, despite the mixed reviews.
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Pizawle

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#10  Edited By Pizawle

Absolutely. Comics and television are both serialized. It is a natural fit.

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Joe Venom

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#11  Edited By Joe Venom

Now that you mention it I wouldn't mind seeing a Dark Tower TV Show ........oooooh I think I just got the chills XD

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Rabbit Tots

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#12  Edited By Rabbit Tots

Yes. That is why AMC should do most of the shows... not ABC or Fox please.
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deactivated-5ffc7df6492da

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The Green Hornet reminds me of the Spirit movie, and I still have nightmares about the Spirit

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CrimsonInuTears

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#14  Edited By CrimsonInuTears

Comic shows have pretty much always been on tv. More often than not as cartoons (which makes sense), but I can't tell ya any given time in the last 20 years that there hasn' been at least 1 show loosly based on a comic runnin.  Live action wise... seriously, there's been how many superman related shows? Not really news. ^_^

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ArtisticNeedham

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#15  Edited By ArtisticNeedham

I think TV is a better outlet for comics.  The only down side is the cost of FX.
But I have always thought X-Men would work best as a "Heroes", "Buffy" styled TV series.
No costumes since they are meant to be normal humans with mutant powers.
  ArtisticNeedham's Blog: Live Action X-Men TV Series Idea 
 http://www.comicvine.com/myvine/artisticneedham/blog/ 
 
Then I was thinking this could work with Spider-Man, a better version than the old live action one.
Same with SHAZAM, or any of those other shows.
 
So, I am game for more comic/TV stuff.

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Altar

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#16  Edited By Altar

i really want to see more of it. they can go so much deeper into the stories and characters. even if they are just mini-series, that would be sweet. i would love to see of that from marvel, and introduce some of there B-team characters.

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#17  Edited By zombietag
@Altar said:
" i really want to see more of it. they can go so much deeper into the stories and characters. even if they are just mini-series, that would be sweet. i would love to see of that from marvel, and introduce some of there B-team characters. "
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#18  Edited By DanialCarroll

It's all about the FX I think. Walking Dead works because it's mostly practical FX, and the CG that is there is used sparingly. I haven't read all of Y, but it looked to me like it would be on the lower CG end as well.  
 
Superhero stories rely on the big battles, and things getting destroyed left, right, and center, so therefore, are better suited to Hollywood mega-budgets. Some of the street-level characters could probably work as a TV series however, like Iron Fist, Punisher, and Moon Knight...

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#19  Edited By JTShadow

I've always liked my comics on the tv and the big screen. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy reading them on the pages too, but its just a different experience when you get to see some of your favorite characters brought to life. I'm hoping for many more tv shows in the future, and although we're nearing an end for Smallville, I hope its just a beginning for Superman.

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#20  Edited By Dr. Detfink

It'll never work for CGI spectacles in mainstream comics but mature material like DC/Vertigo sign me up for a Sweet tooth TV series.

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twiztidtunes

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#21  Edited By twiztidtunes

A team show wouldn't work. It would just be to expensive to get a few names to play the parts. 
 
Solo vigilante type ones I would say would be the best chance. Punisher, Daredevil, maybe Cage & Ironfist

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Fantasgasmic

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#22  Edited By Fantasgasmic

Obviously some stories work better in a serial format than a movie (even a trilogy. WHEN will Hollywood learn that trilogies aren't always the answer?! Just because it worked for Star Wars, Back to the Future and Indiana Jones doesn't mean it's a good idea for everything!) Sometimes you get those happy surprises; for example I always thought Watchmen would work as a TV show and that the movie was doomed to disappoint everyone who never read it and everyone who read it, loved it, and wanted a picture perfect adaptation. And while that may or may not be true, I thought it was a solid B+ movie as did a buddy of mine who never even heard of the book.  I think anyone who wants a Sandman movie should be kicked out of comics fandom forever( even on the "ideal" stipulations that Neil Gaiman would have to write the screenplay AND it could be a trilogy). There can be no good way to turn 75 issues into between 90 minutes and at 540 minutes.  If you cut out some of the parts that don't  contribute to the story as a whole (like A Dream of A Thousand Cats or Ramadan) then you cut out some of the best stories of the series. On the other hand, I think Sandman would make an amazing adult oriented cartoon (i'm a little less convinced it could work live action).
 
I think that if a story is self-contained it is easier to organize into a serial fashion. If you have a movie you have limited time and that leads to the the common problems of comic book movies, not establishing your characters, rushing the story, and having to rewrite /cut the confusing parts for new viewers. Pacing a story that was spread out anywhere from 10 to over 100 issues never feels right in a movie, usually BECAUSE stuff gets cut out. If you have a tv show, you have a transfinite amount of time (provided that your show gets picked up) so you can DEVOTE time to establishing your characters and you can pace episodes the same way they were done in the comics, or fix it if it was not done right the first time. You may have to cut certain things because they involve crossovers/tie-ins in what is essentially a stand-alone continuity, but without a stopwatch you can get more in.  
 
For example, if you wanted to make Iron Man Demon in a Bottle a season of a tv show as opposed to just having the deleted opening scene/ the ONE party scene in Iron Man 2, you might cut the Namor parts, the Avengers parts, and all the super villains working for Justin Hammer, but you could do a much BETTER job of having Tony's accidentally killing a diplomat and drinking, and worrying about his competitors and drinking, crashing his armor and binge drinking, and the general shame spiral that happens, and rather than condensing it all into one drunken birthday party. It might be a little more like Mad Men than a big budget action flick, but you'd be able to capture the human drama that is makes Mad Men and The Walking Dead so good. Plus you could either fix the whole "he's sober now one issue later" part, or more believably end the season where he's not sober but he's working on it, and by the time the next season premiers, the audience accepts that time has passed in the show's universe. 

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#23  Edited By ImperiousRix

I would like to see some really well-done TV series based on a comic books, simply because there are so many good stories that deserve an adaptation on-screen.  Usually I look to cartoons for that, and it's still my preferred medium for super-heroes on TV, but I'd like to see people genuinely try! 
I think it's actually a good thing for some of the bigger names.  Spider-Man shouldn't have a re-booted movie franchise, he should have a TV series.

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bingbangboom

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#24  Edited By bingbangboom

TV has been the mainstay for comics for a very long time, just happens to be typically in animated format. Episodes translate from issues easier along with the pacing and arcs. Will this happen more? I doubt it because when one goes off the air, something comes back. Remember we have had others that havn't done so well like Blade and Witchblade.

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#25  Edited By sora_thekey
@inferiorego said:
"How many times does the average person want to see a new person get super-powers, then beat the bad guy in a two hour film? This formula needs to change. With Smallville ending soon, and Walking Dead just beginning, it seems the doors are finally opening to the world of comic books.
Don't forget that Disney just said that they are developing three live-action Marvel series...
I think that larger story lines would translate better as TV shows. It seems that the movies only seem to serve as introductory stories, which is why it seems that sequels seem to never do as good as the first movie.
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#26  Edited By DH69

only thing i can think of is y: the last man.

 

but tv censors way to much.

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#27  Edited By Gothic Storm

Really? THAT is the title you are going with for this article? The NEW Outlet? You mentioned Smallville, but what about "Human Target"? "Supernatural" ? "The Walking Dead" ? The pic of George Reeves speaks for itself, not to mention the countless titles that have come and gone over the past several decades. I grew up watching everything from the live-action Spider-man (*shiver*) to Wonder Woman, The Incredible Hulk (easily in my top 3 greatest tv series of all-time), The Lone Ranger, live-action Batman (repeats I'm not THAT old!), and the countless animated cartoons with masked heroes and vigilantes. TV is certainly not a new outlet to comic books. It's just the simple fact of the old saying, "What goes around comes around." 
 
I will agree that there are far more comic book-based TV shows nowadays, but remember there are also TONS of more TV channels than there were 20-40 years ago! I'm just happy to be able to watch something decent on TV and not be subjected to that "Jersey Shore" and other reality crap. Alright, so I'm a sucker for "Hell's Kitchen", but that's where I draw the line. Nothing beats hearing Chef Gordon Ramsey yell, "DONKEY!" at his employees.   

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There is certainly some mileage to be gotten from TV.  But in the end, many things that you can do in comics you aren't allowed to do on TV.  While industry hasn't taken full advantage of the medium; I think direct to DVD/BluRay movies are probably where the sweet spot is.  But perhaps the numerous EXCELLENT DC movies have biased me.

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Nova`Prime`

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#29  Edited By Nova`Prime`

I think TV is definitely a good medium for comic books properties. Its not only about big blockbuster movies, but what you can put out there on a consistant bases that is high quality and that will bring something everyone will enjoy in. Do I think you'll see a flood of "superhero" comics brought to the small screen, no, but I do think you'll see more comics like Walking Dead brought into the TV fold.

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Eyz

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#30  Edited By Eyz

I like to think TV is a better way to adapt on-going comics than movies.
Just for the serial aspect alone!
Plus tv writers are currently a heck better than movie writers. Can you imagine that, there was 4 writers on Transformers 2 for what the result was?? And all a lot more paid than, say, the ones on Fringe (the tv series)'s season 2? 
 
Also, I feared an adaptation of Y: The Last Man on theatres. They would either put the whole story into a single film or leave most of it out and have a single movie which would end up sort of "empty". (considering I doubt they would really make sequels for it..or at least just one)

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Cruz

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#31  Edited By Cruz

Television? What's that? 
 
Internet killed television

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blaakmawf

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#32  Edited By blaakmawf

I think the time format is better suited to it.

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NightFang3

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#33  Edited By NightFang3

I don't think there well be a end too comic book movies, and it looks like television is trying too check up with the films; making it possible for 100 Bullets, Y: The Last Man, Powers and  
Hellblazer too becoming TV series.

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GothamRed

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#34  Edited By GothamRed

TV probably is the best way to go, the episodic nature of them allow for either individual stories that develop characters, or long story arc, that can build up tension for longer than the 2 hours a movie is given to do so.  Look at Smallville, it's vastly more popular than the movie the came out and around its release, plus it allows other comic characters to interact with clark like they couldn't in a movie do to needing more time for explanation.  So I would say, even if the budget is lower, which is very apparent in Smallville, TV is definitely the way to go with comic adaptations.

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weapon154

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#35  Edited By weapon154

Well, media is trying to bring comics into the modern age so it may work if they could do it right.

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Magian

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#37  Edited By Magian

Well, TV can help in order to familiarize people with a certain character and it can appeal to a much broader audience. Me, for example, when I was a kid and I wasn't reading comics, I found about Superman and Flash (my favorite heroes) through their live action shows in TV. And I agree that TV can help in telling stories that can't be limited in 2 hours.

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#38  Edited By williest1

My buddy and I blogged about this same topic months ago! I think ours was a little more entertaining ;-) 

 http://grandcentralcomics.wordpress.com/2010/07/02/jay-and-fridays-top-comic-books-begging-to-be-tv-shows/

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Kid_Zombie

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#39  Edited By Kid_Zombie
@sergotron said:
" Y the last man would make a great serialized show. The pace even matches that of a show. "
HELL YA! Would make an amazing show!
 
CHEW is also being worked at for a TV show, as well as Incredible Hulk, and cloak and dagger and a third mysterious porject from Marvel. I am a big TV fan, so this can only be good, unless they make them to "WB" and then its not good. We lucked out in getting good people and a solid broadcaster for Walking Dead. So just like movies, as long as the broadcaster and the people behind the camera are good, then the shows could be amazing.
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IronSpidy-Rooney

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#40  Edited By IronSpidy-Rooney

All they need is a big budget :P

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Journey Into Chaos

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I'd like a good X-men cartoon to stay on.  Or even a Shadow Lady live action adaptation would be good, or or X-force (the one after cable's rain?) or X-23?  But needless to say as long as they stick to feel of the medium like  The Walking Dead (T.V.) series did so far. (Even though from what I know is not a lot.)

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Thunderscream

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#42  Edited By Thunderscream

Heroes for Hire would be pretty cool. Misty Night, Luke Cage, Iron Fist & White Tiger (or whoever's on the roster these days) then you could have appearances by Electra, Daredevil, Spider-Man and any other number of heroes and villains.

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#43  Edited By MooMan

yes! and it should be... the price is right and its well done. keep it coming!

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Omega Ray Jay

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#44  Edited By Omega Ray Jay

This is already something that has been proven to work, The Incredible Hulk smallville etc. If the jump is made by company's into this medium with other charcters that would be best suited for it then it could be a fantastic outlet as opposed to trying to condense an entire history into a trilogy.

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thecheckeredman

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#45  Edited By thecheckeredman

It depends. 
 
I feel that they should be. 
 
If we're talking about live-action rather than animation. 
 
Movie are fun and all, but they're one-and-done distillations of years and years of story and character development.  granted bigger budgets allow you to pull off a explosion-fest IRON MAN that you can't probably get week in, week out on TV if we're referring to live-action.
 
Comics are mostly episodic in nature and so is television.  You can enjoy each episode for what it is but also understand it as a piece of an overall puzzle.  Though SMALLVILLE has long since lost its way, it proves this point.  The WALKING DEAD was a unique comic because it kept the story going.  It made you invest in the cast much like LOST or the X-FILES, and even shows like GREY'S ANATOMY or the WEST WING.  You get involved.  A WALKING DEAD movie would have to condense and cut key sequences for time and eventually be edited down to just another action/horror zombie flick. 
 
Give me DAREDEVIL, HEROES FOR HIRE, the PUNISHER on the small screen anytime vs. a major motion picture.  These characters require less high-end SFX to bring to life.  A weekly 10pm action/drama PUNISHER seems like a no-brainer.  Such a series, if handled with care, could really make a splash... 

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goldenkey

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#46  Edited By goldenkey

I always thought the INHUMANS would make a terrific t.v. show.  A whole different society would have been interesting with the occasional guest appearance from Namor or the F.F..  There are a lot of characters to be used.

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ARTIMUS WALKSTRANGE

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My picks for tv shows: 
Hellblazer, X Factor, The Runaways, Steve Rogers: Super Soldier, Supreme Power.
 
My picks for animations: 
Invincible, Science Dog, Stephen King's Dark Tower, Godland. 

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Lovingdamnation

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#48  Edited By Lovingdamnation

I'd rather there were more comics brought to tv rather than movies. espically with major story lines and crossovers,  X-Cutioner's Song would make a horrible movie, or even series of movies as a miniseries or even full 13+ season series it has a chance.

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DarkSyde79

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#49  Edited By DarkSyde79

Comics being episodic in nature, so of course television is the perfect medium for comic book adaptations. If I had to rank them, it would go like this:

  1. ongoing series
  2. miniseries
  3. movie franchise.

This allows for proper development of the main character but also allows you to be flush out the universe in which they and the other characters populate. Sorta like how MMO's can offer a lot more in the telling of a comic book story then say an action/adventure game and especially a fighter.

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sweatboy

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#50  Edited By sweatboy

so there's 2 blogs on the subject, 
The COMIC BOOK SUB CULTURE, it's true there are STILL things the general public don't know (but maybe know enough for a casual conversation) like Ted Kord, Booster...Gardner... i myself was obsolete to the very idea of "JLA" even when the cartoon was into a couple seasons. Green Arrow came out and i was like,.... WHO? I hadn't heard of Daredevil before the movie, i learned about him through the movie, i loved the movie BUT apparently the COMIC was BETTER. Cant believe i didn't know about DD being a TMNT fan, (to which i was introduced through the Fred Wolf cartoon, i held it dear but i REALIZED, they fucked it up!) so movies/TV have the power to RUIN a comic character too. 
 
 i LOVE television, and i learned a lot about comics through tv, cos where i come from we dont have comic book stores. We had BOOKSTORES and libraries but they weren't like what you'd think, and all the comics they had,.. (not counting the few issues with multiple copies) are all with me now. Filmation cartoons, the Flash TV series starring Wesley Shipp aka Dawson's dad from Dawson's Creek, Zorro starring Duncan Regher, BTAS, X-Men TAS, Lois & Clark (which was better than the currently running Smallville) Smallville (at least the first few seasons) were important sources of information, i think what they do is great. Back in the day for kids like me, my neighbours, shows like this were the shit, knight rider, Lou Ferigno's Hulk... cultural phenomenons man