You might think television is home to all of the comic books now — between DC Entertainment’s domination of broadcast (six shows with more on the way!); Fox using the X-Men library to fuel two separate shows about mutants (The Gifted and Legion); Marvel’s Netflix family (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, new release The Punisher, etc.); ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. also from Marvel; and Riverdale from Archie Comics on The CW. But those shows derive from comic books published by the major publishers. Meanwhile, there’s an exciting world of indie comics just waiting to enter the TV continuum. The following seven examples are just a handful of the characters who deserve their own television shows.
(Photo by Dark Horse Comics)
From the pages of: Madman by Mike and Laura Allred
Story: Frank Einstein was a government agent, but his life before he died is a vague mystery to him. Now a reanimated corpse, he aids his friend Dr. Flem in investigating the odd. He’s also sweet on Joe Lombard, a local secretary. Every so often aliens, mutant beatniks and G-Men from Hell interrupt Frank’s rather swell life. Occasionally, he yearns to remember who he was in his previous life, but why question a good thing when you can just have a picnic?
Why Frank: Despite a shady past and messed-up origin, Frank is the model of optimism. Sure, he can fight and has a few enhanced abilities thanks to his reanimation, but he’d rather make friends with his adversaries. As a show, Madman might be more of a quirky character comedy on Hulu or FX than a full-bore action series, but it could set a new standard for costumed quasi-superheroes on television.
Development status: The film rights have been in the hands of Robert Rodriguez since the 1990s, but no dice on a TV project.
(Photo by Dark Horse Comics)
From the pages of: Grendel by Matt Wagner and a number of other collaborators.
Story: Hunter Rose leads a double life. By day, he’s a successful author. By night, he’s the debonair assassin known as Grendel. Because things come easy to him, he eventually parlays his success as a hitman into running the New York mob syndicates. His constant adversary is Argent, a Native American werewolf hoping to end his curse by revealing the true identity of Grendel. Making things difficult for both, Argent’s friend Stacy is Hunter Rose’s adopted daughter.
Why Hunter Rose? While Grendel spans centuries, the Hunter Rose story is particularly evocative and visually compelling. The character himself is an interesting inversion of the superhero myth and as both Wagner and other writers filled in the broad strokes of his original short story, he only becomes a more compelling and intriguing villain. Imagine an HBO gangland series with a central character who moonlights as a costumed assassin.
Development Status: Not in development as a film or television project.
(Photo by BOOM!)
From the pages of: Goldie Vance by Hope Larson and Brittney Williams
Story: Hailing from a 1960s Florida in which same-sex relationships are apparently tolerated and segregation was dealt with long ago, Goldie works as a valet at the hotel her father manages, but longs to become the establishment’s in-house detective. She also solves seemingly petty crimes on the side. Sometimes a simple hotel robbery can have international implications and Goldie’s extracurricular activities get her noticed by the FBI despite being only 16.
Why Goldie? Goldie is a bright beam of sunshine in a world of would-be spies and astronauts. Full of resourcefulness and zippy catchphrases, Goldie manages to make the lives of those around her markedly better. Consider a Goldie Vance television show a successor of sorts to Veronica Mars with less death and more rockets, hot rods and pep. A worthy addition to The CW’s roster.
Development Status: Not in development (yet).
(Photo by Oni Press)
From the Pages of: Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life (and subsequent volumes) by Bryan Lee O’Malley.
Story: Bumbling Toronto lay-about/guitarist Scott Pilgrim begins a relationship with American transplant Ramona Flowers. While his rock group Sex Bob-omb gets ready for a prolonged Battle of the Bands, Scott faces the wrath of Ramona’s seven evil exes. In order to date her, he must defeat them all.
Why Scott? A question all his friends ask constantly. Despite already appearing in a feature film, Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, much of the journey O’Malley put Scott on solidified well after Wright and co-writer Michael Bacall began developing their version of events. Scott matures (somewhat unwillingly) and comes to see how much damage he caused his group of friends. Unlike the film, it is only through that deeper maturity that he ultimately “defeats” the last of the evil ex-boyfriends and saves a life in the process. The mixture of emotional growth and pop culture references would look right at home on Netflix.
Development Status: None, though Adult Swim did air Scott Pilgrim vs. The Animation as a tie-in to the film in 2010.
(Photo by Image Comics)
From the pages of: Fatale by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips
Story: Josephine is an apparent immortal with the ability to hypnotize men. It would seem like a sweet power, but it is more of a curse, as Jo cannot turn it off. She is also pursued by a vicious cult with designs on her power. But as the decades tick by, she survives — even if she leaves a path of destruction in her wake.
Why Josephine? Thanks to her complicated morality, she makes for a compelling anti-hero. In subverting film noir tropes, she is both victim and perpetrator; making it difficult to trust anything she does. With the amount of sex, witchcraft and violence in her story, Fatale could only be a premium cable show.
Development Status: Not currently in development.
(Photo by Pantheon Graphic Novels)
From the Pages of: Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware
Story: Jimmy Corrigan is a lonely middle-aged man on the way to meet his father for the first time in his life. Finding it difficult to talk to anyone except his mother, Jimmy manages to work up the strength to make the parental reunion over a Thanksgiving weekend. Sadly, the man turns out to be vaguely racist and difficult, crushing what remaining hope Jimmy has in this life.
Why Jimmy? Despite consistently failing, Jimmy Corrigan is endlessly compelling in his life of quiet desperation. Between nostalgic dreams of being Superman and working at a dead-end job, Jimmy just keeps moving despite the crushing weight of a meager existence. He might be the only character on this list that needs to be animated, but imagine a Bojack Horseman like emphasis on emotional pain.
Development Status: Not in development, and considering Jimmy’s remarkable resemblance to Stewie Griffin – despite appearing years before Family Guy – it’s unlikely he’ll even become a TV star.
(Photo by HarperCollins)
From the pages of: Nimona by Noelle Stevenson.
Story: Nimona, a young shapeshifter in world where sci-fi tropes and fantasy settings coexist, becomes the sidekick of noted villain Lord Ballister Blackheart (whether he wants one or not). As she insinuates herself into his home and business, she begins to sense a mistake in the way “good” and “evil” are calculated; suspecting the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics as the source of the problem.
Why Nimona? Defying stereotypes of gender and power dynamics, Nimona smacks her world’s culture with a cheerful disposition, wit, and almost childlike curiosity into the nature of villainy. Like Blackheart, she’s not really evil, but charmed by its counterculture significance within the kingdom. She’s also delightfully complicated as a woman running for her past and using her powers to do it.
Development Status: Being developed as an animated movie by 20th Century Fox Animation and director Patrick Osborne.