Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Comic-based movies that should be animated (rather than live action) and why...

Okay, so Hollywood is missing the boat here. They could easily produce an amazing series of animated films based on comic properties for much less money than the live-action CGI monsters they are doing now. Persepolis and the Amazing Screw On Head pilot are both great examples of how an individual artist’s style can be translated into animation and (in Perselpolis’ case) actually made “better” or more accessible. You would be doing three things if you did more top-notch possibly hand-drawn pieces of animated majesty for the silver screen…

1.) You would throw down the gauntlet for all, including animation monster Japan, to see. Using the original artist style of the comic book as a guide and building an animated feature film around it...well, this would open up doors for the American movie market...making us trail-blazers and allowing us to pursue animation on two levels...the beautiful, artistic, hand-drawn translation of comic books into film and the CGI Disney/pixar track we’ve already mastered.

2.) You would be creating a film version of the comic that is much more in-synch with the original piece. Visually, there would be no disparity when a fan went into a comic shop looking for the “original” or for “more tales of...” this or that character. Merchandising would be easier, as no figure would have to look like an actor. It would also be easier to visually recognize one movie from the next...based on art styles.

3.) Translating comics that can be allowed to be themselves and have the pacing of, say, a Miyazaki film rather than a Brett Ratner flick, would mean so very much in terms of allowing American movie-goers to evolve/mature AND buck the trend of animated features being just for kids. The tales you can tell with animation are, like comics, not limited by budget for special effects but also not limited to being the same cookie-cutter Disney-naut and/or boob-jiggling hyper-violent anime.

So, some films that have already been made live-action that, based on iconic art style, would benefit from the animated treatment over the live-action are:

The Spirit (should have been an Eisner-esque...paying homage to his skill and style and keeping the fun of the original comic...)

300 (though true to the source material, would have been much cooler if animated in the Miller style)

Sin City (because Miller’s art-style is so singular...all the translations of his work from comic to film could really be done in an amazing animated piece with as much vim and vigor as the live action...if not more)

Bone (was scrapped by Jeff Smith when Disney wanted to put pop songs in the animated version...but a version that retains the look and feel of the original might be made someday. if so, it could become an instant classic...as has the source material)

Scott Pilgrim (being made into a live-action flick but why? o‘malley’s art style is so unique and a mix of 8-bit parts and amazing animation would really rock this thing...)

The Goon (I hear that it’s going to be made into a film...and I’m sure it will be live-action...which is sad. Powell’s artwork is gorgeous, creepy, and organic. animating it would be difficult...but well worth it)

Tank Girl (if you’ve seen the Gorillaz, you’d know how good this could have been...)

TinTin (though I’ve heard rumors both ways...if this piece ends up being live-action in any way...which they’ve already done btw, then what’s the point? Herge’s style is classic and needs a proper animated treatment)

Madman (I heard a live-action piece was going to be done years ago...but Allred’s artwork is so unique...it deserves proper animation)

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (imagine a version of this that is ripped from the pages of the comic...and retains Kevin O‘Neill’s genius stylization)

Black Hole (a live-action adaptation of this is being made...but why? Charles Burns’ artwork is freaky and powerful...and should be animated instead)

Hellboy (of all the live-action films on this list...Hellboy really didn’t translate like it could have easily as animation, particularly since we’ve seen the Amazing Screw-On Head pilot...which is as good a translation of an artist’s style from page to screen that I’ve ever seen. had the Hellboy movie been done with as much adherence to the art style as the story...it would be an amazing thing to behold)

Films I’d like to see done as animated features...are as follows (this is just an excerpt):

The Sandman (done in various styles...would be an amazing, dream-like film)

Powers (Oeming’s style is dying to be animated)

Casanova (the color palette and line-work intact, this film would be unique)

Hard-Boiled (an animated retelling of Darrow’s detailed world of crime and grime would be awesome)

Liberty Meadows (I think we would all love to see a series...maybe on Adult Swim?)

Groo (also, an adult swim-esque series would rock...)

Dawn (retaining Linsner’s style would be a challenge, but well worth it...and would be an instant cult-hit)

Criminal (though Phillips does a sort of noir realism, i think his style is strong enough to justify the animated treatment)

The Savage Dragon (his Kirby on acid style would make for a wonderful film...maybe following his first fight against the Vicious Circle)

Akiko (not adult...but totally needs to be made into an animated film for kids)

Chickenhare (also, not adult, but would be a great feature film or series of dvd films)

Love & Rockets (switching between the styles of the two brothers, this would be an instant classic once it hit the screen...or an amazing tv series with unforgettable animation)

Marshal Law (would also be amazing to see this Kevin O’Neill illustrated series come to life in animation)

Love Fights (any of Andi Watson’s tales would be nice animated in his style, but this one would probably have more screen appeal)

The Amazing Joy Buzzards (a movie or a series based on Dan Hipp’s artwork? what’s not to like?)

Cerebus (I would like to see this done in the Dave Sim style...and think it could be pulled off for a series of films)

Popbot (crazy washes and angular organics would make this one of the most intense and surreal animated features yet)

Boneyard (either as a series or a film...this book would make for a great story on the big screen...and Richard Moore’s style is so “him” that it would make sense to keep that in the moving version)

Screamland (though it’s new...Hector Casanova’s artwork is so original and moody that it would make for a gorgeous and complex flick)

The Airtight Garage (actually, any animated piece keeping with the Moebius look and feel would truly rock...)

Well, what are your suggestions? Are there films that have been made live action that you think should have been animated (based on comics or manga) and/or can you think of some comics you think would be truly stupendous as an animated film or series? I’m curious to know what other stuff you think would be best kept animated.


  1. fyi, I read the Goon will be CGI.

  2. That's what I heard today, too. Thank God for that. In reality, if they can get an organic/natural look via CGI that would be fine. I think hand-drawn animation is a dying art that needs to be kept viable in this country. Still, a marriage of CGI and hand-drawn animation styles might be a cool compromise. Some of the Gorillaz stuff is like that.