Dissertation progress

I have currently completed an introduction to topic of how comics become adapted into movies. Before jumping straight into comics, I first took a step back to see how literature becomes adapted into film since the concept of adaptations started with novels before comics. Throughout my essay I will explore how many similarities are shared among adapting comics and novels into movies.

My essay so far:

After coming to realisation for my potential to become an illustrative graphic designer, I have decided to explore the topic of the journeys of comics being transformed into film or animation. 

I am aspiring to create a graphic novel in my creative career and I am particularly interested in the process of seeing vibrant still imagery in print media becoming animated or portrayed by actors in the digital medium. I frequently imagine what my graphic novel idea would be like if it panned out into an animation, if that would become a reality then I think it would be beneficial for me to gain insightful knowledge on this creative process. During this study I am also hoping to get a better understanding of what particular comics and graphic novels make adequate movie material in terms of subject matter and themes which I will find useful to refer to. This will make it easier for me to make changes to my own graphic novel to meet a criteria if needed in order to make it capable of being translated it into an animated adaptation.

Before a movie adaptation is to be considered it needs to work with a source material which normally comes from a story that originates from printed media, most commonly books ranging from literature to comics and graphic novels. Before comic books became a more common medium, many film adaptations originated from literature. Among countless examples of films adapted from books throughout ongoing generations include H.G Wells’ The War of the Worlds. This book was originally published in 1898 and has been adapted into film from as early as 1953 to the most recent adaptation released in 2005 and directed by Steven Spielberg. (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0046534/, 3/11/16) (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0407304/, 3/11/2016)

Early examples of directors creating films based on other novels would soon learn the values of    using interpolation for adapting literature into film- it was rare for directors to include everything from a novel into a film with the notable exception of the uncut version of the 1924 silent film Greed, directed by Erich von Stroheim who based the movie on the 1899 Frank Norris novel McTeague. It was literally adapted from the novel at first, resulting in a movie that would stretch out to as long as 9 hours. This led to it being cut down to 4 hours and without the director’s input, cut again to 2 hours. (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Film/Greed, 4/11/16)

To avoid over stretching the running times of future films, changes and alterations to the source material would have to be a necessary action to undertake in order to make a balanced film adaptation. These changes would range from creating additional stories to introducing new characters or in some cases, if the story stretches out to multiple books the creators would condense the story into a single movie. Changes are also made in order to cater towards an anticipated audience that the film adaptation might attract. For example while the original 1898 novel H.G Well’s War of the Worlds focussed on a unnamed journalist as the main protagonist, the 2005 movie adaptation focusses on a divorced father of two kids. This changed example was done in order to make the adaptation appeal more towards a casual audience of the current generation while the original novel appealed more towards audiences who were enthusiastic about science, astronomy and evolutionary theory, which was appropriate for the booming development of science in the victorian era. In addition, changes are also made simply due to the differences between book and film industries- created in the American film industry, the 1953 film adaptation was naturally set in America rather than Britain because Hollywood was the primary film industry at the time, therefore changes were made in order to make it appeal more to an American audience. Among other differences, the decision to make these changes often reflected on the time periods that the film adaptations were made in, in order to make it more relatable to the current generation of the audience that would watch the movies. The original novel was set in 1890s Britain where the British Empire was the predominant world super power at the time, which falls to the invasion of the Martians with their own imperialist intentions. The 1953 film was set in America to appropriately reflect on the country’s place as a world super power, likewise with the 2005 adaptation. Focussed themes also alter slightly- the novel focuses on evolutionary theory, British Imperialism and victorian superstitions and prejudices at the time while the 1953 film focusses on the cold war and nuclear arms race. (Haskin, Byron, 1953, The War of the Worlds, Paramount Pictures)

These alteration decisions that apply to adapting novels also share similarities when it comes adapting comics and graphic novels into movies.

I am also planning to study existing examples of comics that have been turned into movies. Here I have devised a structure to work by when I carry out my studies:

  • Process: What creative processes were involved within the development of the movie adaption?
  • Authenticity: How authentic does the adaptation remain to the source material?
  • Why: Why did they make these changes? (referring back to my written work explaining why changes are made when adapting novels into films, if necessary)
  • Reception: How well is it received by the audience? (exploring opinions from fans of the source material to casual film-goers/What do fans like or dislike about the adaption in relation to the source material?)

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