Coffee and Comics: What About The Other Guys?

Thanks for coming back to Coffee and Comics! Since our last discussion, Marvel Studios made an announcement that they plan to make movies for the Marvel Cinematic Universe until at least 2028. That is a long time from now and it opens the flood gates for so many new titles it could make your head spin. Since we focused entirely on Marvel last week, we thought we’d talk about the Other Guys a little bit. What about the publishers underneath the Big Two? Image and Dark Horse have some good candidates for films, so we thought we would toss our hat into the proverbial ring on some good choices.
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Which title(s) do you think is the best pick, financially speaking for any of the 2nd or 3rd tier publishers: Image, IDW, BOOM!, Avatar, Dark Horse, Vertigo? Why?
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Mai Byers: I can’t actually think of any that would be the best pick. I know that sounds harsh but I can’t think of one that makes me think, Now there’s a money maker! I probably just don’t know enough titles honestly.
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Asaph Bitner: For Image, The Walking Dead has been a smash hit on TV, but should they try to develop a film about it? I don’t know, but at this point I wouldn’t be surprised if they actually did. I also wouldn’t be too surprised if Invincible, Robert Kirkman’s long-running superhero book, was adapted as a film. Other titles that I think could be profitable movies are Sex Criminals, Saga, Black Science and East of West. I don’t know the other indie publishers well enough to suggest titles, except for IDW’s fantastic Locke & Key (which had a failed TV pilot, but I think it could still be a successful film franchise).
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Alex Byers: I want to see Invincible and Saga, although East of West would be really cool. Deadly Class is one I could see being pretty popular due to its teen audience.
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Jesse Quick: [For] best Image, this movie isn’t a shocker but it’s the flat out truth. If Image were interested in getting into the movie business they should make a Walking Dead movie. Its already got a huge following, an interesting cast, a budget which is apparently just short of a feature film anyway and they have an existing extensive storyline they fit into. They could do some kind of before Rick wakes up thing that covers the rise of the zombies or just extend the current storyline. I know its not the sexiest answer but its true, a Walking Dead movie would make money.
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Mike Sains: For the longest time I thought Invincible would be a film way before the days of The Walking Dead hitting our televisions. He just seemed like the perfect blend of what kids and adults would both find interesting. But I also think that there are some good money making choices elsewhere, as well. Namely in the form of two World War II books. Breath of Bones: The Tale of The Golem on Dark Horse and Peter Panzerfaust on Image. War films tend to do well at the box office and both of these stories have real potential to be a success. One is a harrowing tale of rescue and the other is Peter freakin Pan in World War II. I’m genuinely surprised neither have entered the development stage, yet. I know Panzerfaust has a live-motion comic out but nothing else.
Could Invincible be the one to break through?
Could Invincible be the one to break through?
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In regards to all of our film choices, do you have any casting picks or Director picks?
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Mai Byers: [For Rat Queens] Edgar Wright who did Scott Pilgrim, Shaun of the Dead, and Grindhouse would definitely be my choice. He’d make it professionally cheesy in all the best ways and high quality. It would be perfect for Rat Queens. OOOOH but Quentin Tarantino would do a great job too! Hard to pick! Actresses would be really, really hard. But here are my picks for now. They will probably change as soon as I send this: Hannah: Scarlett Johansson; Violet: Jennifer Lawrence; Dee: Zoe Saldana; Betty: Kristen Bell.
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Asaph Bitner: I’m not really all that familiar with Invincible but just for fun: Logan Lerman ( I know, he’s Percy Jackson, but he was really great in The Perks of Being a Wallflower) , Ezra Miller (who co-starred with Lerman in The Perks of Being a Wallflower), and Cameron Monaghan (who plays Ian on the US version of Shameless) should all make interesting choices.
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Alex Byers: Casting. That’s hard. Gary Oldman as the guy with a TV on his head in Saga. Joseph Gordon Levitt as the main character Mark in the Invincible. Tom Hardy as someone in either series. Bryan Cranston as Nolan the father. That’s all I can think of.
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Mike Sains: I can’t think of any casting picks for my own choices. Given that both are such large ensembles, the only one that I can name right now would be for Invincible. I think I would go Joseph Gordon Levitt, Alex. You called it perfectly. The only trouble would be to make sure to pick a guy who could play his father that wouldn’t be too old to dawn the tights. Maybe, say, Clive Owen or someone else who looks equally as ridiculous with a mustache?
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Remove any finance-based decision making. Which title(s), according to your own taste and bias, do you want to see brought to life? Why?
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Mai Byers: Rat Queens and Locke and Key. I think Rat Queens would be a cult classic and every chick I know would dress up as Hannah or Dee. I feel like a lot of comic girls and gamer girls would feel right at home with their swearing, drinking and and all around awesome crassness. Locke and Key just because there would be so many creepy things that could be done with it. But I would only hope that someone like Guillermo del Toro would be the director so it wouldn’t get screwed up.
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Asaph Bitner: I would like to see Sex Criminals and Saga adapted to film (although they could also be great HBO/Netflix TV shows). I think Velvet could be an awesome spy movie, but they’d have to find a way to make it not feel derivative of old James Bond flicks.
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Alex Byers: East of West and Saga. They would be difficult with all the potential make up and CGI. Awesome though.
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Jesse Quick: The sexy answer however is Saga. If there were no budget I would love to see this made into not just a movie but a whole franchise. And realistically you would have to have no budget. Just one frame of this movie would be expensive if you wanted to capture the majesty of the comic. It ain’t superheros but god its got more heart then most stories these days with characters with cosmic backgrounds but relatable problems. Just seeing some of the filthy things they got away with would be worth it.
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Mike Sains: As far as I know, Mind MGMT on Dark Horse is currently being written for film, so that base is covered. To me, that is my top pick on so many different levels. From the rich characters to the heart-breaking story lines, I simply love this book. If you’re not reading Matt Kindt’s opus, you better get on that.
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Do Marko and Alana have what it takes to break big on the movie screen?
Do Marko and Alana have what it takes to break big on the movie screen?

Is there a hero or character in any of the indie publishers that could have the same marketability as say Spider-Man or Batman? More specifically, do you think there is a hero or character that could resonate with kids from an early age, then carry over into a their adult life?  

Mai Byers: Wonder Woman! Again, I want to see more girls. As a girl I loved superhero and ninja stuff but was always dejected because there were no girls. I was a big fan of April O’neil from TMNT but felt frustrated that she was always having to be saved instead of kicking some butt herself. If there was a really big movie with Wonder Woman I think it could do a lot for getting girls into comics.

Asaph Bitner: There’s no character that I can think of off the top of my head that I could see being that marketable. Image (The biggest indie company as far as I know, and if any of them would try to compete with the big two, it would probably be Image), it seems to me, is more adult-oriented. Also, the way Image operates means that no one book or character get the disproportionate amount of attention from fans, or from the company itself, that enables such a rise in popularity as Spider-Man and Batman enjoy.

Alex Byers: Hmmm, from what I’ve read in Image, I can’t think of single characters that have that kind of marketability. The characters from The Invincible would probably be easiest. East of West is only going to resonate with a certain crowd. Let me take that back, Saga will have marketability due to the unique characters. That would be partly thanks to some characters looking like they came from FLCL. People would potentially cosplay the heck out of that series. I don’t think Image has any titles, that I know of, that are going to carry over from childhood to adulthood because they have too much realism for kids. There is something to that publisher that I think my generation of comic lovers have been looking for. Probably largely due to Image comics not being so mainstream and marketable.

Jesse Quick: In terms of marketability no company is going to match what either DC or Marvel has to offer. They don’t have just comic characters they have movie characters, action figures, cartoon characters, backpacks, pogs, parade balloons, lunch pales, they have an entire world of which the comics are actually a relatively small part and no company with “just” comic characters can compete with that in terms of marketability. However I do think that the characters could find a niche and resonate with kids to adulthood. Specifically Invincible who is interesting and written by Robert Kirkman which is just kind of a win right now.

Mike Sains: I can not help but feel like we are all missing an obvious answer. One that is right under all of our noses, but, sadly since I can’t think of it. I must agree with all of you. There simply isn’t a book that I can think of that has all of the right elements to turn into a Zeitgeist-level hit. Maybe Five Weapons or America’s Got Powers could hit big with the young adult audiences, but those are two of the more obscure titles in Image’s roster. I’m coming up empty, here. I hope someone suggests something to us in the comments section. : )

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Will any of these choices or publishers ever be able to compete with Marvel and DC on film? Or, just like the comics, do you think it would be a smaller level of return financially?

Mai Byers: I don’t. Not really. Even if you’ve never read a Spider-man comic you know who he is. Same with all the other blockbuster titles that come out from the Marvel and DC. They are just going to get a lot of hype just from the character they are.

Asaph Bitner: I don’t think such a film would bring in Avengers or Dark Knight levels of money (although we could be surprised. Nobody predicted that The Walking Dead would be as big a TV hit as it turned out to be). But I could definitely see such a film make very good returns, even great ones.

Alex Byers: I think they can compete title by title, but not franchise wise. There isn’t enough sequel rich options available because all Image comics don’t stem from the same gigantic universe. Image titles are all stand alone and that is why they can’t compete against a universe of collective titles that can cross into each other. That’s apples and oranges.

Jesse Quick: I think on a comic by comic basis, yes Image has the raw talent to make it into the movie business. Their problem is that they aren’t going to be able to leverage themselves as easily as Marvel has. Not having a shared universe means each comic will essentially have to start out on its own merits, which is probably a good thing. But if they get enough movies out there to start their own movie publishing house, I could see them doing something special.

Mike Sains: Personally, I feel like if Image or Dark Horse established themselves as more adult-oriented action / drama films, they might be able to carve our their own place right next to some of the less successful Marvel releases and certainly blow right past some of the larger DC flops like Green Lantern. I don’t see why, even though they lack a cohesive cinematic universe, at least one publisher couldn’t make at least 50-100 million dollars on a few of their best titles.

 

Bonus-s-s-s: Of the indie comic iterations already on film (Sin City, Witch Blade, Spawn, 300, etc.) which is your favorite or least favorite so far?

Mai Byers: Sin City! I watched the movie first and then went through and read the whole series. Didn’t hurt that the cinematography was amazing.

Asaph Bitner: You mentioned Sin City and 300, and I like both movies a lot (I do need to clarify: I’ve only read some of the source material of Sin City and none of 300). Another indie adaptation I really enjoyed was Wanted. They seriously veered away from the comic, but it was a great, highly stylized action film with a pretty kick-ass ending.

Alex Byers: Favorite indies is probably Scott Pilgrim. But that’s mainly because Watchmen is now part of the machine.

Jesse Quick: I really liked Sin City. I thought it took risks visually that really really paid off as it had a style that still feels unique. The plot line was also kind of a risk as it had interweaving character arcs and came the closest to a shared continuity in a single film that we’ve ever seen. I also liked how it managed to keep its comic roots (with the narrations and effects which might as well have been splash pages) without losing its roots, it didn’t try to be darker than it needed to be nor did it try to hide from its dark roots. Plus it had Mickey Rourke in probably his best role ever so there.

Mike Sains: I would have to go Scott Pilgrim and Sin City as my two favorites. They were so fun to both look at and follow along with, even without prior knowledge to the books, themselves. The worst one, though, would have to be Spawn. John Leguizamo as The Clown still upsets me to this day. Let us all forget that ever happened. (I’m sad, now)

NO! YOU ARE NOT WELCOME HERE, CLOWN!
NO! YOU ARE NOT WELCOME HERE, CLOWN!

 

Mike Sains

Mike Sains is a Writer, Interviewer, and the Editor of the Reviews Department for Capeless Crusader as well as other outlets online. He is also a podcaster and an avid collector of vinyl records and collectibles.

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