Comics Creators

DC Cinematic Universe - Wonder Woman, Justice League and More



No just sci fi. Every big budget movie success seems to be built on an established property. And audiences are in part to blame for that.

The exception is animation where new ideas happen to great success multiple times a year. It’s a fascinating disconnect with the cinema market.


And TV too, where new ideas thrive.

If I were a comics creator I’d give up on making a property that requires a big budget movie adaptation.


It’s interesting, it does seem to be mostly that way. And yet, something like Avatar shows that audiences will turn up in huge numbers for an original concept if it’s done right. But that’s an outlier, and maybe not the kind of thing that would have a hope of being made without someone like Cameron behind it.





You edit a picture of Scruffy into that post right now!


Ha! :slight_smile:

You know what I mean. ‘Original’ in the sense of ‘not based on an existing property’, and ‘right’ in the sense of ‘popular’.

It’s possible to be original and still be terribly unoriginal. :smiley:


Yes, but this was funny.


I think I’d rather see comic creators just focus on the actual comic and not feel constrained in terms of the stories they’ll tell based on the chance of it being adapted, which is probably unlikely and a successful adaptation even less so.


I agree - I’ve always liked the idea of comics being able to offer stories with an ‘infinite budget’, so it would be a shame if comics writers created stories with the mindset of it having to be something that that could be made for a TV or mid-range movie budget.


Erik Larsen posted this on Facebook Tuesday:

I’ve heard it before and I’ll hear it again: “They should make a Savage Dragon movie.”

Honestly–and I know people mean this as a compliment----but I couldn’t give two shits about seeing Savage Dragon on the big screen.

Savage Dragon in the comics is MY character. He looks the way I want him to look. He acts the way I want him to act. Every word is emphasized just as I’d intended. Every gesture, every expression, everything–it’s all as I envisioned it.

That’s not a movie.

A movie is compromise. A movie is the work of hundreds of people. And sometimes it’s pretty good and sometimes it’s unwatchable but it’s never the book. It’s never the comic book. It’s never the work of the author as that author intended.

Savage Dragon would be too tall or too skinny–he wouldn’t look right–he’d say all the wrong things in all the wrong ways and everything would be tweaked and changed and compromised. It wouldn’t be what it is. It couldn’t possibly be.

If you like my work and you like Savage Dragon–there is, and always will be, just one place where you can find that. And it’s not on the big or little screen–it’s in print. It’s a comic book.

And that’s all I ever wanted it to be.


Imagine never getting The Ultimates or Starlight or Empress just because the stories would be too expensive to properly adapt?
I don’t think many of my favourite comics would be left if they had to be easily done as live-action television.

Jim’s point about animation continuing to put out original ideas is interesting one, and I’m not sure I can say quite why it happens. How expensive are the biggest animated movies? I didn’t know how many can fit into the $200-million range that we’ve been talking about.


But it’s not that hard to understand why, though… adaptations have some benefits that original scripts don’t: the hype it’ll create and a pre-existing audience.

In the 2000’s there were A LOT of attempts at creating new franchises (and I mean movies that were clearly created with sequels in mind), most of them failed. I’m sure I could find a good number of those post 2010…


Interesting in that regard is when we see failures or underperforming stories reformatted into big successes. The Handmaid’s Tale was hardly the sort of bestseller as The Exorcist or Stephen King novels, but it was was well received enough to warrant a complete bomb of a movie.

However, HULU successfully guessed that the time was right for a television series.


Timing is very important, but so (sometimes) is process. The film had a troubled production, which was reflected in the movie.

The TV show seems to have known what it wanted to be and aimed squarely at that.


That’d be nice, but if you take a look there’s not much money left in indie comics (ignore Walking Dead or Saga). Indie comics are not a viable financial model without option money - I’ve talked to Millar extensively about this. The great elephant in the comics industry is how little money there really is. Look at Image sales and see how few monthlies break 20k. And then consider how little there is for the creator with a $9.99 trade.

Many of Millars big budget ideas have stayed in development hell. That’s because most of them require $200 million to get going. There’s a reason why Kick Ass, Wanted and Kingsman got made - you can do them for under $100 million. You can maybe do Superior for under $100 million. And Huck & American Jesus. And probably MPH. But Jupiters, Starlight, Empress, Chrononauts and Reborn all take real money. Enter Netflix, who have stupid amounts of money and don’t care about breaking even at the box office. If he’d sold to Universal or Sony we’d probably not see those adaptions.

I should add that Mark isn’t writing to a budget, but he’s got lots of movie credit at this point. Three franchise hits. Other creators are facing the reality that indie properties might be non profitable passion projects that’ll never be adapted. I’m sure many are ok with that, but it’s a trend that’s important. A few years ago every indie comic was optioned, these days that’s not the case.


I hope Mark is guarding his branding like a mother bear. Scotland is like a studio lot to the big Hollywood types, and may think they have a cash cow. Whatever can be done for quality control, it needs be done. He’s still a small shark, after all. And there are dragons.


Rest assured Mark has a brilliant working relationship with Netflix. They’re like his new mistress. He won’t stop talking about them.


The reports of it being tougher than ever to launch new franchises is probably somewhat exaggerated. One of the problems, if there is one, is surely the ongoing Avengers cycle, which has been mining properties completely unknown to the general public for a decade now, and launching them simultaneously, again and again. Whether you think this is a good or bad thing, based on the results, is irrelevant. These movies have been dominating the popular consciousness…in exactly the way these things always have.

But huge, huge hits are always going to be outliers. It will never be easy to find them. It’s a fact of the market that the more you try the more you’ll fail. The public can’t absorb everything. And the more they butt up against each other, the more they cancel each other out.

You only have to go back and see how this played out in the ‘80s, the ‘90s. It’s just not true that it was easier. There were more hits, maybe, in the ‘80s, but they were smaller ones. The market didn’t truly catch up with Star Wars level success until the prequels. And ever since, the studios have been desperate to duplicate that. And audiences have been looking for the same thing, the same built-in appeal, which is why Harry Potter happened, why Lord of the Rings happened, Hunger Games, the Dark Knight, even Pirates of the Caribbean.