From Peanuts and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to The Avengers and The Walking Dead, comics have long been fertile ground for fresh ideas, birthing some of the most beloved properties in American entertainment.
Whether due to the budgetless nature or singularity of vision, comics have flourished as a place where distinct voices, creative concepts, and big ideas can unfold on their own terms. This freedom allows characters to find themselves and an audience without the strings that come attached to a multi-million dollar Hollywood budget.
It’s this ability to build legions of fans over time that original movies and TV shows have often struggled to replicate due to the fiscal demands and short-term goals of producing these kinds of works. While the rise of streaming services like Netflix have changed this dynamic to an extent, the built-in audience that comics provide are still a major benefit of basing movies or pilots on underlying intellectual property.
The second major benefit is that comics act as a proof of concept for characters, concepts, and stories. Comics are a relatively inexpensive way to prove that an idea is engaging or that a premise is executable. Writer Mark Millar of Kick-Ass and Kingsman fame has been so successful at using comics to showcase and prove the validity of his ideas, that he’s proven himself as a successful creator to the point that he’s now able to option many of his works before the first issues are even released.
But possibly the biggest strength of Millar, and the comics medium as a whole, still lies in the freedom that comics provide. When the format is fully embraced with pure intentions to tell original stories, voices that would normally be drowned out in the studio system are able to be heard, unfiltered and unencumbered.
With diverse comic-based movies finding success, like the raucous ride of Scott Pilgrim or the battle cry of 300, comics are gaining wider appreciation as a medium — not a genre — which will only bolster the comics of today as the pop culture of tomorrow.