A list of five non-superhero comic books and graphic novels that totally deserve their own film adaptation.
Ever since the first Iron Man movie, the years that followed were good years for superhero films. Even now, the trend hasn’t showed signs of slowing—we’re still riding the high of the Deadpool movie, all while waiting for Captain America: Civil War and Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice, probably two of the biggest events happening in Marvel and DC’s respective cinematic universes, to finally hit the screens.
But what about the non-superhero comic books? What about the writers and artists who don’t concern themselves with superheroes, yet still tell genuinely amazing stories? I’m not saying every comic book needs a movie, but it would be nice to see these following works be cinematically adapted, if only to garner the recognition they deserve.
The Sculptor by Scott McCloud
What it’s about: Down on his luck in New York with a barely-there art career, David makes a deal with death to be able to sculpt anything with his bare hands, at the cost of having his lifespan severely shortened to less than a year, which should be fine. Until he meets Meg, a girl who calls into question everything he thought important, and forces him to consider that maybe love of art and love of life don’t have to contradict each other.
Why it would make a great movie: Try to visualize animated concrete and stone turning liquid-like and malleable on a silver screen. McCloud’s art style given movement. Combine that with a story that trades a happy ending for super solid character development — and you might just end up with a blockbuster.
Blankets by Craig Thompson
What it’s about: Blankets is a semi-biographical work about the author’s upbringing in a conservative Christian household, his coming-of-age in an environment that discouraged the pursuit of art, and the relationship he shared with a girl named Raina.
Why it would make a great movie: Fun fact: Craig Thompson used to work for Nickelodeon, which makes it easy to think that a cinematic adaptation of Blankets—full color treatment and all—would be the next logical step. But more than that, a movie adaptation of Blankets would almost perfectly suit the pulse of the times—an animated film about becoming disenchanted with religion.
Big Questions by Anders Nilsen
What it’s about: A flock of birds share residence in a bare and empty field, leading monotonous lives eating worms and breadcrumbs. Their existence is thrown into confusion when a dud bomb crashes into their field intact, and is mistaken by some as an egg laid by a giant bird. The bomb, the plane that crashes later in the book, and a human being named by the author as “The Idiot,” are perceived as indications of meaning.
Why it would make a great movie: What makes Big Questions such a head trip is how much the conversations between these birds mirror the questions we ask ourselves and each other about human existence. Maybe these questions would find new life in a movie, given good voice work, and if the adaptation somehow manages to stay true to Nilsen’s art style of intricate linework and pointillist technique.
Maus by Art Spiegelman
What it’s about: Considered one of the first masterworks in the genre of sequential art, Maus recounts the author’s father’s experiences during World War II, with most of the text taken from interviews. The Jews are portrayed as mice and the Nazis are portrayed as cats, but of course there’s more to Maus than the dichotomy.
Why it would make a great movie: Because, damn it, the granddaddy of graphic novels deserves to be paid tribute to. Spiegelman has turned down numerous offers for Maus to be made in a film, so I don’t expect an adaptation to happen in my lifetime. But I can dream.
Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli
What it’s about: Known as Mazzucchelli’s greatest work, Asterios Polyp recounts the life of its eponymous character, an academic and architect whose jaded approach to life and beauty are challenged by various people, events, and—thematically speaking—the caprice of the gods. Oh, and most of the book is narrated by his dead twin.
Why it would make a great movie: Asterios Polyp is perfect as a graphic novel, a work that pushes the limits of its given medium. It’s hard to imagine it as anything else. The only way a film adaptation would work is if it treated the cinematic form with the same thoroughness and rigor, at par with the works of filmmakers like say, Satoshi Kon, who know better than most what movies can do that other forms can’t.