We’ve all had it happen to us. We get invested deeply in a TV show, maybe for a season, or maybe for many seasons. And then one day we get the terrible new that our favorite show has been cancelled. The problem is, some of us aren’t finished enjoy it. Some producers are finding a new way to keep their shows alive in a surprising way…through comic books. Many series have already taken to this trend.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Smallville are two great examples of television shows that lasted for many years, but when they were done, fans still wanted more. Luckily for them, there were still plenty of stories to tell in those universes, and comic books provided a low-risk environment to continue the story for the fans who couldn’t get enough. Media producers usually want to keep their franchise alive just as much as we want to see them continue. They have poured their heart and soul into their shows and worked very hard to deliver them to us. Whether it is a television show, a movie, or even a video game, comics can be a great way to continue the story for all of us who aren’t done with it yet.
The problem starts when the studios and networks no longer wish to support the show. Comics allow for these deserving series to have a proper continuation. For producers this could be a far safer bet than continuing to produce a television show that is not going to be successful any longer. If the comic afterlife is a success, then everyone is happy. The fans get more story, and the producers make a profit. However, if comic continuation looks to be a dud, it is not nearly as hard of a hit to take. The general costs of making a comic are $40-$120 a page for a Penciler, $20-$80 per page for an Inker, $20-$50 per page for a Colorist, and $5-$20 for a Letterer per page. Even when you add in the costs of writing talent this still adds up to be far less of an investment than a single episode produced for a television network.
Comic books allows for things that are not always possible on camera. In the world of television production, actors can have budget disputes, be fired, quit, or even pass away. With comics, as long as the permission is given for the likeness to be used, the “on-screen” talent can be immortal. They can have cameos, or their characters can last for much longer than their contract would originally allow for. And drawings never ask for raises! Take a look at Dark Horse’s Star Wars: Dark Empire. This was a comic series produced in the 90s, and on the page the actors look as they did while filming Return of the Jedi, when in reality they have all visibly aged.
Video games are another medium where comics can perfectly add on to. No matter how much replay value a game has, at some point you run out of story. If the game is good enough, fans will want more. Games such as Batman: Arkham City, and Deus Ex: Human Revolution are both deep story-based games that have engaging plots that have left audiences wanting more. Enter DC Comics, which took both of these titles and made comic books based on the games, and released them about six months after the game’s initial launch. The comic book series Arkham Unhinged is a whole new set of stories that continue where Arkham City left off. Two years after Arkham City, and monthly issues of Batman: Arkham Unhinged are still being produced in monthly installments.
In short, I believe more producers should look to the comic book medium as a way to continue their franchise. It is less of a financial risk, and it is in a medium that is still thriving. Comics can immortalize characters and talent and continue to deliver engaging stories to fans. The stories can continue, and we can keep getting the stories we want and deserve. Do you think more franchises will get a reboot in comics? What would you like to see re-imagined in the panels of a comic book?
– Kyle Hogan