Comic Culture: The TV Revolution
Comics are serialized; they come out once a month, and are numbered (in some fashion). Television is serialized. Shows come out once a week and are numbered by episode and season. So it comes as no surprise to me, that for the most part, the transition from comic to television and vice-versa is usually fairly seamless. And up until this point these two mediums haven’t really taken advantage of each other to the fullest, but it seems like that is about to change.
With the box office success of The Dark Knight trilogy, as well as The Avengers (and more), comic companies and studio execs are clamoring to find more ways to capitalize on geek culture while the iron is hot. Movies are being churned out at a breakneck speed, and some wonder if the demand will outlive the supply. This is where the guys in suits are starting to branch out and expand beyond just movies. What is the one thing that most people own that they use every day, and especially at night? The correct answer is a TV. So, why not start making more comic TV shows? Well that’s the question that seems to be hitting a chord now. They cost less to make and are able to air at a more consistent pace. So it seems like a logical jump to make.
While Disney/Marvel and Warner Brothers/DC continue to produce and release comic movies they are finally starting to realize the true potential of the television avenue. Shows like Arrow and Agents of SHIELD have ushered in a new era of quality comic book shows. As we speak Arrow is in the middle of its second season, and was just picked up for its third on the CW while Agents of SHIELD is expected to be renewed for a second season at ABC. The viewership for both shows have far exceeded initial expectations and show that viewers like what they see. So, that must be a signal to open the floodgates right? Well whether you agree or disagree, either way, it’s going to happen!
Currently there are too many new shows to count in development at different networks. So, here’s a list of the ones I could easily find in the works online. As I stated, this list is by no means comprehensive, but are some of the more prominent ones currently on the radar.
- Constantine at NBC
- Flash, iZombie and Hourman at CW
- Gotham at Fox
- Preacher, Thief of Thieves, and Walking Dead spin-off at AMC
- Outcast at Cinemax
- DMZ at SyFy
- Iron Fist, Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones and The Defenders at Netflix
- Agent Carter at ABC
- Powers at FX
At first glance this may seem like a lot, but something tells me there are MANY more being shopped around that either haven’t found a home yet, haven’t been announced yet or are still under wraps. I would also chock that up to networks still testing the waters with these new shows because we are still in the early stages of this comic TV revolution, so to speak, and I am sure they want to tread the waters somewhat lightly. Time will tell if all of these shows actually stick and see long-running lifespans. I have a feeling there will be some duds in there, but that withstanding, it seems like the people behind the scenes are finally starting to get it and are mining the vast comic archives as well as respecting the source material. Once again, case in point, Arrow and Agents of SHIELD.
So, if we have an influx of movies and now an influx of TV on the way, you are all probably wondering what my thoughts on all of this equates to. Well, I am here to say that I think it is a good thing. In my opinion it is MUCH easier to over saturate the movie market with comic properties than the TV market, because viewers have MANY more options with TV shows than movies. We have been spoiled lately with Disney/Marvel’s and Warner Brothers/DC’s constant battle with each other so we’ve been getting more than one comic movie per year. This was never the norm, and now that it seems to be becoming the norm we are all getting used to it. But, in the end, two + movies over a whole year still isn’t very much comic book goodness, so having multiple shows on year round seems like a no-brainer to me.
As I said at the beginning of this post comics and TV both share the fact that they are serialized so this opens the door to a lot of possibilities of having many overarching plots and lots of character development that can take place better in a 24 episode show, rather than one 2 hour and 30 minute movie. There’s more room to play around with certain elements, and the ability to really truly flesh out a lot of characters is more easily attainable. Don’t get me wrong though. The characters in The Avengers and The Dark Knight Trilogy are fleshed out really good as well, but the first can be attributed to solo movies like Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and The Incredible Hulk doing the legwork while the other had three different movies to really make the story come full circle.
People like movies, but people also like TV more. Services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and many other online streaming outlets have opened up the avenues even more for people and their overall popularity prove that people like to watch TV A LOT. To be blunt, it is far easier and takes less effort to stay home and watch TV than to go out to the movies. In the end, it is also probably cheaper. So, when the dust finally settles, I say it’s about time. Open the floodgates, because I am ready. I am ready to sit at home and let James Gordon and Gotham into my house. I am ready to see Barry Allen and his adventures on the small screen. Bring it on. And, for everyone else I hope you’re ready too. Strap in and get ready for the revolution. Because it’s coming one way or the other.