For decades comic book fans knew the colorful pages of ink they loved so much held plenty of material for Hollywood to adapt, but all they got were a handful of TV shows, made-for-TV movies and the occasional theatrical release – with only “top tier” characters receiving the big screen treatment.
Now, Hollywood is tripping over itself to option a more diverse group of comics and graphic novels, but for every success like The Avengers or The Dark Knight, there are failures like Jonah Hex, Dylan Dog: Dead of Night and Howard the Duck.
Some comics from yesteryear are barely worth reading – much less bringing to life for an audience to watch, so we’ve put together a list of 12 Comics We Think Should Never Become Live-Action Films.
1. Hansi: The Girl Who Loved the Swastika
Publisher: Spire Christian Comics
Written By: Al Hartley
Drawn By: Al Hartley
Hansi is actually the graphic autobiography of Maria Anne Hirschmann and a quite inspiring story of her life growing up in Sudentenland after the Nazis took control in 1938.
Unlike Anne Frank (who hid from the Nazis for two years in an attic), Maria was chosen during a Nazi lottery to become a member of the Bund Deutscher Mädel. She became a nurse on the western front, was captured by the Russians then escaped to Switzerland. From there, she immigrated to the US with her long-lost-love, where they eventually ran ex-Nazi Christian support groups in prisons throughout California.
Now, while all that seems like a great screenplay for a heartwarming and touching story, the title still implies a girl loving a symbol the world has come to associate with villainy, tyranny, fear and racism. Those aren’t typically words a studio wants attached to their films…
2. Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose
Year: 1999 – Present
Publisher: Broadsword Comics
Written By: Jim Balent
Drawn By: Jim Balent
Tarot is a “good” witch – not like Glenda from The Wizard of Oz – and the main protagonist in this explicit, and often violent, series which revolves around her, her lover Jon Webb (who’s also the head groundskeeper of a cemetery) and her darker sister, Raven Hex.
When Tarot isn’t running around the woods stark naked performing rituals, she’s battling the dark elf Azure, the female dragon Mor-Meb-Dred, The Bleeding Man and the psychotic lesbian known as Red Latex.
Tarot gets help (and other *ahem* “needs”) from colorful characters like Jon’s dead ex-girlfriend Cryptic Chick, a werecat, a lingerie salesgirl named Boo Cat (who is also Tarot’s lesbian lover), a gothic vampire cheerleader named Licorice Dust (who happens to be Boo Cat’s lesbian lover), and her overly-voluptuous mother (think Coco Austin) simply called – Mother.
Witches, vampires, elves, werewolves – it’s an overused genre which most mainstream audiences are growing weary of. The comic book is typically label “Adults Only” – as there is a plethora of nudity and sexual escapades scattered throughout the series – which would require any adaptation to either water down the source material or take on an adult-only rating. Either would mean box office failure.
Written By: Bill Jemas
Drawn By: Greg Horn (Covers), Paul Neary (Inker), Mark Bright (Penciler)
This could quite possibly be the weirdest comic miniseries Marvel has ever produced, and, unless you’ve taken the time to actually read through this mess of a comic, it is quite difficult to explain – but we’ll give it our best shot .
The entire series consists of seven books – six storied comics with the final seventh “issue” devoted to guidelines on submitting work to Marvel’s new Epic Comics line. The main character is Kal-AOL Turner, son of media mogul Ted Turner, living in the year 5002 – but thanks to a time machine built from old video game systems, he travels back to the year 2002. Jane Fonda, Alan Greenspan, Batman, Superman, Iron Man and Black Panther all make odd and ridiculous appearances.
When Jemas wrote this series he envisioned it as a parody – with many jokes aimed at the comic industry, comic book fans, pop culture, while addressing social awareness and economic issues. The “jokes” were so hard to understand that the following line actually greeted readers on the first page: “Here are a few things you need to know about comic books and about the real world to get the ‘inside’ jokes in Marville #1.” The next page then proceeded to explain all the jokes BEFORE you read them.
With theaters already packed with bad movie parodies like Meet the Spartans and Epic Movie, there is no room for a comic-turned-movie that makes bad and confusing jokes – even if it does explain them before the audience sees them.
4. Bad Girls
Publisher: DC Comics
Written By: Steve Vance
Drawn By: Darwyn Cooke, Jennifer Graves
We’re assuming DC Comics wanted to grab hold a piece of the tween-age girl demographic with this not-very-good comic miniseries about fitting in, cliques, social acceptance and every other high school generalization.
The story revolves around Lauren, who moves to San Narciso, CA and struggles to fit in at her new high school. She meets the girls who rank highest in the school’s social order – Ashley, Brittany, Tiffany and Destinee – and the school’s science nerd Ronald, who accidentally gives them all superpowers.
There’s a subplot about a mystery in the school but ultimately it’s about who Lauren will choose to hang out with. Think Mean Girls with superpowers.
Sky High and a few other films have touched on the subject of high school and super-powered teens, which means Bad Girls can keep its clichés and flat characters off the screen.
5. Love and Rockets
Year: 1982 – 1996, 2001
Publisher: Fantagraphics Books
Written By: Jamie & Gilbert Hernandez
Drawn By: Jamie & Gilbert Hernandez
Back in the 1980s there was an alternative comics revolution with artists/writers/brothers Jamie and Gilbert Hernandez helping lead the way with their comic series Love and Rockets. The series basically breaks down into two separate story lines – Palomar (Gilbert) and Hoppers 13 (Jamie).
Palomar is a fictional Latin America village and the story revolves around Luba (Palomar’s rather busty, hammer-carrying mayor), her seven children (Maricela, Guadalupe, Doralis, Casimira, Socorro, Joselito, Concepcion) and the village’s other wildly colorful characters.
Hoppers 13 is distinctly more complex, following the lives of several US citizens of Mexican descent, or Chicanos, as they grow up and interact in California during the rising punk scene. One of the more well-known characters is Margarita Luisa “Maggie” Chascarrillo, whose stories often have a more sci-fi feel. The most popular story involves her as a pro-solar mechanic travelling to Africa to take part in a revolution.
Tackling the massive world and intricate stories from Love and Rockets would be a monumental feat for any writer or director – on the same level as Zack Snyder’s The Watchmen. Such a task just shouldn’t be attempted – though the Hernandez brothers have tried unsuccessfully to adapt the project, but have been delayed in the courts for the past 15 years.
6. Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters
Publisher: Eclipse Comics, Parody Press, Dynamite Entertainment
Written By: Don Chin
Drawn By: Patrick Parsons (Parsonavich), Sam Keith
Originally Don Chin conceived Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters as an unofficial parody of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but as the concept grew in popularity so did the stories - evolving from its tongue-in-cheek spoof roots to include a 3D version of the comic, a one-shot and a spinoff.
The four furry martial artists were named after famous action movie starts – Clint (Eastwood), Chuck (Norris), Bruce (Lee) and Jackie (Chan) – and they once teamed up with another mutated animal team, the Naïve Inter-Dimensional Commando Koalas (yes, this is a real comic). However, they never worked with the Pre-Teen Dirty Gene Kung Fu Kangaroos (this is real too).
Even though this clan of smart-mouth hamsters were fairly popular in the underground and indie comic scene, it’s fairly obvious this comic should never become a movie. After all, if no one can get TNMT right after four movies – and the chances of Michael Bay doing the property justice are slim - there is no way a something like THIS would ever turn out good onscreen.
7. Fat Fury starring Herbie Popnecker
Year: 1964, 1992
Publisher: American Comics Group, Dark Horse Comics
Written By: Richard Hughes
Drawn By: Ogden Whitney
The slow-moving, overly-plump, teenager known as Herbie Popnecker isn’t really what you would call a superhero, but thanks to some cosmic lollipops his sucks on, he has the ability to fly (by walking on air), throw punches very rapidly, time travel, invulnerability, superhuman strength, communication with animals - and oh yeah, the ability to defeat villains just by staring at them with his hypnotic eyes.
But even with all that ridiculous power, Herbie didn’t become an actual superhero until after he failed superhero school, at which point he created his own costume and name – The Fat Fury!
Clothed in just a pair of red long -John underwear, barefoot with a plunger on his head, the Fat Fury would fly (or walk) around the world and galaxy, saving various people and planets from evildoers. Herbie always got the girl and people throughout history know all about him – sort of like a teenage, beach ball-shaped Doctor Who.
As popular as Herbie and the Fat Fury were (there was a revival of sorts for the character in 1992) he would in no way translate well onto the big screen. In the age of the “dark, gritty and realistic” comic book movie, the Fat Fury would be over-the-top silly.
8. Tales from the Leather Nun
Publisher: Last Gasp
Written By: Dave Sheridan, Robert Crumb, Spain Rodriguez, Jaxon, Roger Brand and Pat Ryan
Drawn By: Various Artists
This “Adults Only” one-shot comic was a collection of disturbing stories which focused on nuns doing all sorts of un-nunly things, including sex, violence, and perversion.
It’s a dive into the weirdest and darkest depths of the writers’ (and some readers’) perverted minds - and while that might work for a particular part of society, it doesn’t really belong in a mainstream film – at least not in a normal theater.
Though, maybe it is prime material for a different industry of filmmaking…
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Written By: Mark Millar
Drawn By: Terry and Rachel Dodson
In 2003 Joe Quesada and (then) Marvel president Bill Jemas decided to tell a faux backstory of Peter Parker’s parents and their relationship with Uncle Ben and Aunt May. They hired Kick-Ass writer Mark Millar to write the 5-part miniseries, as a love story involving teenage pregnancy.
After meeting in the Hamptons one summer, Mary tells Richard she can’t sleep with him because a fortune teller told her she would get pregnant if she did. May, however, will bed just about anyone – including Ben – because the same fortune teller told her she would never have kids (great responsibility, indeed!). In a shocking turn of events, May ends up pregnant anyway and figures the fortune teller was just wrong. Turns out though, Ben was sterile and May had an affair with Richard!
After deciding against an abortion, May runs away from home instead of facing her fundamental Baptist parents and goes off to live with some slim- ball she hates. Mary, being very upset at her friend for sleeping with her man, tells May she deserves all the trouble she’s in, and refuses to help her – until she finds out May tried to commit suicide. Then it’s BFF4L.
When all is said and done, May gives birth to Peter who is then adopted by Mary and Richard. May goes home to her parents who are none the wiser and everything is status quo in the Marvel Universe.
Do we really need to give you a reason why this story should never be made into a film?
10. The Gormandizer
Publisher: Hues Corporation
Written By: Carrie Pugsky
Drawn By: Gary Spieruck
The Gormandizer is a failed comic book from the early ’70s (more on why it failed in a bit) with the rotund Frankie Franklin at the center of the stories. Frankie is a competitive eating champion who gains his special powers by eating irradiated hot dogs during one of his competitions (he didn’t notice they were glowing).
The “power” he received was the ability to eat anything and everything – nuclear waste, bullets, the meatloaf at school – essentially becoming an omnivore. He starts off using his power to keep the EPA off his back, as he owns a small electronic repair shop in New York City and doesn’t want to properly dispose of the waste. Soon he’s fighting two villains: The Toothmaster – an insane dentist who gets his powers by stealing people’s teeth - and The Lunchlady, the wife of a powerful political figure who wants to change school lunch menus to foods laced with brainwashing drugs, so she can take over the world.
Let’s put aside the fact that the publishing company, Hues Corporation, was just a front to launder drug money in Miami and New York (guess now why the comic failed); instead, we’ll focus on the fact that someone thought turning a competitive eater into a superhero was a good idea. With so many more options available to Hollywood right now, we’re going to ask that they actually push away from the table on this idea.
11. The Adventures of Captain Titanic
Publisher: White Star Comics
Written By: Don Smith
Drawn By: Unknown
On the 50th anniversary of the tragic sinking of the Titanic, Don Smith (allegedly the grand-nephew of Captain Edward Smith) decided it would be a good idea to celebrate an event that took hundreds of lives… with a comic book.
The story is an odd idea, incorporating aliens shaped like icebergs and time travel. It was published while survivors of the Titanic were still alive - so not surprisingly, most of the civilized world was quite upset and most of the copies were bought then destroyed; only a few are known to still exist. To make matters worse, Smith published the comic without permission of his uncle’s estate and White Star Comics.
James Cameron has already made oodles of money off the deaths of so many people - but at least he made it look moving and epic. Turning the tragedy into a satirical farce is wrong on many levels, and Hollywood best steer clear of it.
12. Clean Fun starring Shoogafoots Jones
Publisher: Specialty Book Company
Written By: McDaniel
Drawn By: McDaniel
Poor Shoogafoots Jones was a character in this ridiculously ignorant one-shot published in 1944 called Clean Fun. There’s nothing “fun” about the comic or its stories though, as it follows Shoogafoots around town while he tries to escape his abusive wife, loses his job due to his ineptitude, and is mocked by kids (who happen to be his own children by different mothers).
Supposedly this book was written for children, to teach them morals – and most of the “morals” are taken from a book called Stray Thoughts by the very Southern-named author, Crump J. Strickland.
Take a look at the cover to the left, shudder for a moment, then let it sink in that such a comic even existed. Even for the ’40s, the ignorance in this comic is astounding and to think that some Hollywood studio would even dare contemplate making a film based on it would surely spell doom for them.
We’ve listed many reasons why certain comics shouldn’t become films – overt nudity and sexuality, massive and immense story worlds, ridiculous plots and character traits (some more offensive than others), but there are many more comics out there that don’t deserve to become films, either.
Are there any on our list that you don’t agree with? Let’s know in the comment section – but be respectful and civil!
Follow me on Twitter – @MoviePaul – and tell me what other comic books you think aren’t worthy of becoming films.