Here’s my current literature review for my dissertation:
How do comics become movies?
To help me explore this subject for my dissertation, I will be looking into the following sources of research to support this…
Moving Panels Translating comics to film by Logan Ludwig
This piece explores the fidelity of creating movie adaptions of comics, specifically how a movie becomes something equivalent rather than identical to the source material. It raises how most current adaptations have a heavy focus on fidelity and brings up the adaptation of Watchmen as an example that’s praised by Jeffery Dean Morgan for this. However while the praise for fidelity of Watchmen is much deserved, it also criticises how it misses a crucial reason why the original work looked the way it did. This is backed up by the fact that Watchmen was designed to evoke classic comic book aesthetics, with their design choices such as colour meant to build up on the visual history of comics. It was designed with comic book enthusiasts in mind who appreciate the history of the medium, creating a subtext for the work that compliments how the story is inspired by other comics. But when the film version copies the exact visual styles of Watchmen, the subtext which was originally specific to comics, becomes less effective.
This brings up a theory for how much faithfulness should a movie adaption of a comic maintain if the original source material was created with comics in mind, first and foremost. This would not be a big issue for casual filmgoers who aren’t expected to have a deep knowledge on comic book history, but this will be more likely to have an impact on the audience who would be highly enthusiastic of the comic book source- a comic intended to reference other comic book aesthetics won’t work in the same way when put into movie form.
Animated Adaptation- TV Tropes
This piece brings up an example of how Bruce Timm’s Superman: The Animated Series has been regarded as better than the comics, good enough that new character traits as well as other new characters appearing only in the TV series have become integrated into the original comic series of Superman.
Pragmatic Adaptation- TV Tropes
This explores how writers for film adaptations need to compromise changes to the source material in order to suit the needs for a film rather than a book, sometimes this is due to pacing issues, budget or the limits of the film industry that the writers would work with to make the film adaptation. Another major contribution to why changes are needed is also due to time constraints- literally translating long-running comic book series or a 600-page story would result in creating 8+ hours worth of film. In order to adapt stories as long as that into a 2 hour movie, some things need to be cut out or altered while remaining as truthful as possible to the original story.
These changes would include censoring content to meet the film medium’s stricter standards, creating additional characters or enlarging the role of a certain character to benefit the narrative and even removing certain characters that would be considered unnecessary to the plot.
When the wind blows by Raymond Briggs
This is an existing example of a graphic novel turned into an animated movie. I will explore this example to dissect how much the movie closely compares to the graphic novel and how writing and art style remains faithful to the source material, as well as how certain aspects of the animated movie can be considered better then the graphic novel.
Attack on titan by Hajime Isayama
This is another example of a comic series adapted into a TV series. For the sake of a contrasting comparison against the work of Raymond Briggs, I will explore how a Japanese manga series became adapted into an ongoing anime series as opposed to a British graphic novel adapted into an animated movie. I will therefore make similar explorations with Attack on titan by comparing the manga to the anime by taking note of significant differences that would sometimes make the anime better than the manga.
Understanding comics by Scott McCloud
Graphic novels: Everything you need to know by Paul Gravett
I will use these books to help support me in explaining how relevant is the opinion that adapting a comic series translates to a television series and adapting a graphic novel translates to a movie.
In addition I will also consider exploring examples of books that have been considered to have bad movie adaptations for subjective reasons, such as the modernised movie adaption of Dr. Seuss’ children’s book The Cat In The Hat and other examples that are yet to be listed.
With these found sources of research so far I intend to conclude with not only gaining an better understanding of the process of how comics become turned into movies but also what creative traits and design choices work most effectively for creating good movie adaptations. Since I am aspiring to create a graphic novel myself, this new-found knowledge will hopefully support me in the future for how I could potentially adapt my comic into animation if it ever came into demand.