In college, the comic that made me interested in comics was Y: The Last Man. I had never read anything like it. I didn’t know comics could be anything other than superhero stories, and certainly nothing as compelling and addictive as what writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Pia Guerra cooked up. Later that freshman year, my roommate handed me Preacher, and I was once again blown away (although not to the same extent as Y). Over ten years later it’s interesting to see how these two properties have moved through various attempts at being adapted with Preacher finally moving towards being a television series and Y: The Last Man still stuck in development hell after years of trying to turn it into a movie.
Steve recently interviewed producers Evan Goldberg and James Weaver at the press day for their new movie Neighbors, and during their conversation, they talked about adapting comic books into television series versus movies. Hit the jump for what they had to say, and click here for Goldberg and Weaver going in depth for what they have planned for Preacher.
As budgets and boundaries expand on television, the medium seems more inviting for adaptations of non-superhero comic books than it did ten or even five years ago. I think there was an innate assumption in Hollywood that no matter how popular a non-superhero comic was, the only place it could go would be into theaters or HBO.
However, the marketplace has drastically changed with cable networks being more daring in their programming choices as well as streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime offering up original content. Considering this environment along with the current plan to still turn Y: The Last Man into a feature (although at this point, the rights will probably revert back to Vaughan and Guerra because there’s no movement on the adaptation), Goldberg responded, “Y: The Last Man as a feature is ludicrous. It’s perfectly made to be a TV show,” but Weaver replied, “I want to say…I read a lot of scripts, so I’m going to give a little bit of a caveat, but I feel like I read Y, and it’s a very good feature script.”
And this is a caveat we should all consider. We have preconceived notions of how something should be adapted based on its original format, which makes us inclined to reject any other form of adaptation. Because Y does lend itself more to long-form storytelling, then a movie could never be as good. Except in this case, Weaver says the script was good. More importantly, just because Y could be a TV series, that doesn’t automatically mean it would be a good TV series.
Weaver also explained that while Preacher fans are enthusiastic about the book being turned into a TV series rather than a movie, a TV series wasn’t the initial plan:
WEAVER: But, you know, there were drafts of the Preacher feature script that were very, very good as well. I think when you’re talking about that amount of money and scope that goes into making a movie of that size, it’s hard not to get a little bit of cold feet when you’re the person in charge of writing the check. And we chased Preacher as a company as a feature first!
GOLDBERG: Like three or four times.
WEAVER: Before I started working with you and then when I started working with you we went back in to try and do it.
Although there are currently no signs of a Y: The Last Man movie going forward, Goldberg says that if Preacher hadn’t come together, he would have gone for Y. “Y: The Last Man would be such a good show,” says Goldberg. “And I loved it! I just didn’t like the last two pages. They were weird.”
Thinking about this debate between whether or not an adaptation of a comic would work better as a movie or TV series, I feel ambivalent about the endeavors of all adaptations. We bemoan the lack of original content, but then we get into debates about how to best adapt original content. Perhaps we should consider the possibility that sometimes it’s okay to leave a property well enough alone. I’m not necessarily of the belief that more art means more good art.
I’m not against adaptations. Game of Thrones is appointment viewing for me, and I’ve never read the books, nor do I have any intent to do so until the TV series is finished. But when I look at Brian K. Vaughan‘s current comic series, Saga, I admire it because it consciously defies adaptation into another medium. It would be too expensive to be a TV series and too weird and vulgar to be a movie. You have to appreciate it as a comic.
I’ll be perfectly happy if Y: The Last Man never becomes a movie or a TV series. It will always be a comic and a comic that people can and should read right now. And when you do read it, first appreciate it for what it is rather than thinking what else it could be.
Here’s the video of the interview. Look for more with Goldberg and Weaver soon.