Comic fans who have been reading books for a number of years know that it’s not all about tights, round shields, powerful armor, and magic hammers–there is a whole world of books out there dealing with magic, heaven & hell, life, death, and everything in-between. The DC Vertigo imprint has been gaining in popularity across media platforms lately due to successful translations of series like iZombie, Preacher, Lucifer, and Constantine with several films such as A History of Violence, Stardust, and V for Vendetta to name a few.
Don’t get us wrong–we aren’t complaining about these missing titles, but even though development is underway for Y: The Last Man (Which we are incredibly excited to see), there are some Vertigo books that desperately need the small screen treatment. Of the dozens of books the company has put out over the years, we have come up with the following five that need to be developed for the small screen.
100 Bullets was a limited series written by Brian Azzarello with illustrations by Eduardo Risso and Dave Johnson. The title ran for 100 issues between 1999 and 2009 and was awarded the Harvey Awards for Best Writer, Artist, and Continuing Series. It won in 2002 and 2003 as well as the 2001 Eisner Award and many more accolades. The series was renowned for its stylized use of language and violence told in a pulp crime-noir format.
There is a feature film in development, which is being produced by and will star Tom Hardy, but very little information has been released by New Line Cinema as to when we might expect it. Even with the forthcoming adaptation for film, we still want to see this on the small screen. That was almost a reality in 2013 when David S. Goyer attempted to bring the series to Showtime. The network decided to pass on the series due to the surge in mass shootings across the United States at the time–a series about crime and violence to the level of 100 Bullets would have been poorly received at the time.
The series concept was based on whether or not a person if given the means to enact violence against someone who wronged them, would do so. The principal character in the beginning of the series was Agent Graves, a man who would approach the victim of a horrendous crime and provide a handgun and 100 bullets for them to enact revenge–promising that nothing is traceable by law enforcement. That’s just the tip of the iceberg for a series that involves a great underground organization and numerous characters who become intertwined into an ongoing story.
100 Bullets could easily work as a film and we are definitely excited about the Tom Hardy project, but it would excel in an episodic format on the small screen with a network such as AMC or HBO. With violence on television becoming less of a social issue thanks to series like Game of Thrones, it’s possible Showtime might take another look at Goyer’s proposal and create some amazing television.
Astro City has been in publication off-and-on through various publishing houses since it debuted in 1995. The series was created by Kurt Busiek with most of the illustration provided by Brent Anderson. The majority of covers and painting were contributed by the very gifted Alex Ross. Astro City is an anthology series that focuses on a large number of characters, but primarily focuses on the city itself and the people living in it.
Throughout the publication, the stories are told from different points of view. You might find a single issue told through the eyes of a hero or a 10+ issue arc told through the lens of a normal person living in a city with superheroes. This has made the series an immersive read over the years and has provided an insight into the nature of humanity when confronted with a world filled with amazing things.
Like the other titles on this list, Astro City is no stranger to awards having won numerous Eisner and Harvey Awards over the years. These have gone to Busiak as well as to the series as a whole for specific storylines. Alex Ross’ work on the covers helped him to win similar awards in 1999 and 2000. Seeing Anderson & Ross’ style accompanied with Busiak’s writing in live-action would make for compelling television.
Because the books focused on so many different characters, it would make for an amazing ensemble-cast television series. The books were in development to make a film back in 2003, but it never made it out of development. Busiak wrote a script treatment when Working Title Films acquired the rights in 2010 with plans for a film, but they were unable to move forward and their rights lapsed. Fortunately, Busiak is pushing forward with another production company, but at this time, there is no news on when we could expect the long-anticipated film.
For anyone who follows the world of Neil Gaiman, they already know that The Sandman has been in development hell for years. The series is one of the most well beloved for the publisher and demands an adaptation, but it has proven very difficult. Plans for a film have been up and down over the years and there has been talk of a television adaptation, but none are currently in development… or in a stage of development that gives us Nerds enough confidence that we will see it anytime soon.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt was working with David S. Goyer to bring The Sandman to the silver screen, but he dropped out in March of 2016. Eric Heisserer (Arrival, Light’s Out, and Hours) has been brought on as a screenwriter since Levitt’s withdrawal, but the project hasn’t moved forward since.
The Sandman was a 75-issue series written by Neil Gaiman between 1989 and 1993. Like most Vertigo titles, numerous artists were brought on to illustrate the series and the artwork beautifully accompanies the excellent writing talents of Gaiman. The books follow the story of Morpheus, who is Dream of the Endless and has been captured by humans intent on capturing his sister, Death. Following his escape, he learns that he is capable of change and many of the stories that follow are told in flashback format. Numerous Dreams and Nightmares are found to be on Earth meddling in human affairs and it’s up to Dream to deal with his creations.
The series was the flagship title of Vertigo and is one of the best-received and awarded comic series to date. During its run, it was chosen by Entertainment Weekly as #46 in “100 best reads from 1983 to 2008” alongside only four other comic books. Fans are dying to see this series developed and while a film adaptation would be an amazing feat, the scope of the lore and the characters involved would definitely be better served in an ensemble television series.
Have you ever thought about what happened to the characters in fairy tales after their supposed “happily ever after” slammed right into reality? That’s where the story of Vertigo’s hit series Fables picks up with the lives of Snow White, the Three Little Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood, and about a thousand fables long forgotten by most people. The series establishes a small area of New York City, secretly called Fabletown where many of the aforementioned fables reside. They are refugees from a great adversary who conquered the homelands forcing them to relocate to the real world for safety and security.
The series is an anthology told via the many characters spread throughout. Old King Cole ran Fabletown as the Mayor until an election brought in Prince Charming to take on the job. Snow White was the deputy mayor for a long time before she became mother to some magical wolf hybrids–she shacked up with Bigby Wolf (Get it? Big Bad Wolf) in his human form. The non-human fables are required to reside in an upstate farm, but it isn’t like when your folks sent your dog to live upstate on a farm, this is a real place where Chicken Little, Goldilocks’ Bears, and anything else that doesn’t exactly fit into the modern New York City lifestyle must reside.
Fables has been worked on since 2005 for television audiences, but it always ran into problems getting into production. It was first developed by Warner Bros. Television, but never made it beyond the scripting stage. ABC was set to produce the series as an hour-long drama, but instead dropped the concept and revamped it for the ongoing series, Once Upon A Time. Because the concepts are so similar, the chances of Fables making it to the small screen while OUAT is still ongoing is highly unlikely.
There is a film being developed by Warner Bros. with production efforts undertaken by David Heyman and Jeffrey Clifford. Jeremy Slater and Jane Goldman have been drafting the script and Nikolaj Arcel has been hired on to direct. Unfortunately, this information is a few years old and there hasn’t been any real news on a film adaptation forthcoming anytime soon. Heyman has been busy with the Harry Potter universe thanks to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, but he did have this to say recently about the film plans:
“At the moment, (we’ve) put a pin on it….Bill Willingham’s writing something, so we’ll see. He’s going to write and see what comes, but we need to make it distinct, if we were to do it. You’re right, there are certain connections to that.”
The connections he was referring to in the quote (Taken from an interview conducted November 2016) was the similarities between the Potter and Fable universes. With the recent announcement that Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas are leaving OUAT at the end of the current season, room might again open up for an adaptation of Fables for the small screen.
The Books of Magic
The Books of Magic began as a four-issue miniseries written by Neil Gaiman, which introduced Timothy Hunter who was to be the greatest sorcerer of his age. As you can see from the picture above, there are some similarities between Hunter and Harry Potter, but since The Books of Magic hit store shelves seven years before Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, let’s call it an homage.
Hunter is an ordinary 12-year-old boy who is thrust into the magical world of DC Comics by some of the most powerful practitioners of the occult arts: the Trenchcoat Brigade consisting of the Phantom Stranger, Doctor Occult, Mister E, and John Constantine. In the four-issue miniseries, the Trenchcoat Brigade take Timothy on a journey to discover the world of magic, which he ultimately embraces without even realizing it. It’s an amazing story and was so well-received, it kicked off an ongoing series consisting of 75 issues.
Gaiman, John Ney Rieber, Peter Gross, and many others worked on the title for years and it has achieved acclaim much like every other series on this list. As Hunter embraces his life in magic, he travels to Hell and Faerie as well as many other places. One of his chief characteristics is that he is able to open doors to any world he wants, which makes him a target for demons, angels, and everyone in-between. This has allowed the writers and artists to weave a complex storyline throughout many known fantasy elements, which have captured readers’ attention for years.
There is a film in development hell where it has languished for decades. One of the main reasons it hasn’t seen the light of day is due to the development of the Harry Potter franchise. As we pointed out, there are some similarities between the two properties which would have put them in direct competition with one another. Since Warner Bros. is responsible for both, it’s highly unlikely they will embrace one over the other, which is why it is such an incredible product for an anthology television series. There hasn’t been any talk of a television adaptation and Gaiman has been working to adapt the story into a film absent the machinations of Warner Bros., but thus far, nothing has surfaced.
Did we leave off your favorite Vertigo title that desperately needs to be made for the small screen? Sound off in the comments and let us know!