Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
Thinking about some of the news from SDCC this year — specifically, the Sixth Gun news, about it being made into a television series by the Syfy network — it struck me: Indie comics are the small-screen Marvel. And I’m not quite sure what that’s going to mean for their future.
This shouldn’t have been a surprise, of course; with The Walking Dead such a success on AMC, and Powers in production for FX, television had already discovered indie books, albeit indie books by creators familiar to fans of Marvel Comics. If Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World had dimmed the idea of the non-Mark Millar, non-superhero indie comic as mega-successful blockbuster movie for awhile (Even though, as I never tire of exclaiming, it’s a spectacular movie and by far the most enjoyable thing to hit theaters last year), it’s clear that they seem to have been embraced by television as idea farms waiting to happen. Look at the much-buzzed-about Locke & Key pilot (Not picked up by Fox, but something that the studio felt so strongly about, they signed the writer to a development deal and kept shopping it around to other networks), Chew‘s optioning by Showtime and, now, Sixth Gun‘s Syfy deal. Yay?
Okay, I admit it: There’s definitely a level on which that “yay” isn’t in the least ambivalent: The majority of the comic money involved in these deals is going straight to the creators in (almost?) all cases, which is a great thing, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it turns out to be something that helps the comic’s continued existence in a couple of cases. Plus, each of the projects that have been optioned so far are shows that deserve the bigger audiences and wider success that a successful television show would bring.
(Okay, I admit: Powers is probably doing just fine right now, but still.)
But I worry that there’s a danger of transmedia success pushing publishers towards more television/movie-friendly projects, or creators feeling as if they should try and come up with something more easily filmed for a potential future moneymaker. It’s ridiculous, I know; there’s no more pressure on either publishers or creators to do this now than there has been all along, or at least since Wanted got turned into a movie way back when, but… I get nervous, I guess, that whatever ideological purity I imagine in indie comics – And feel free to point out the number of licensed comics, worthless spin-offs and gratuitous pandering in books that undercut that very concept in the comments – will somehow get lost in the weird world of producers and directors and adaptations, Charlie Kaufman-style.
All that said, yay for Sixth Gun creators Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt; they deserve all the success and rewards they get from this deal, and as a fan of Syfy’s Warehouse 13, Haven, Alphas et al, I’m really looking forward to see what the television show ends up looking like.