Netflix has often adapted books, both fiction and nonfiction, as well as comics in live-action adaptations as films, limited series or more, namely Bridgerton, You, The Haunting of Hill House, The Queen’s Gambit and more. Most Netflix adaptations have been a success, amassing the streamer massive revenue.
Graphic novels, too, have seemed to be quite the fit for Netflix. Adapting Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba’s The Umbrella Academy into a series proved to be quite beneficial for the streaming giant. The Umbrella Academy, starring Elliot Page, Justin H. Min, Tom Hopper and more, is returning in 2022 with a much-awaited third season. Fans have also been eagerly waiting for the Netflix adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, the trailer of which was released back in 2021.
The world of graphic novels is magical and interesting, and the panels often seem like the film medium itself as we move from one box to another and can almost imagine the 2D images in motion. While some provide a surreal escape from reality, other memoir-like accounts provide a terrifying and moving portrait of humanity and existence in general. Being faithful to the source material often helps the cause of these live-action adaptations as can be proven by The Umbrella Academy’s success.
While Superman, Spiderman and the Avengers have been immortalised in the superhero realm after being adapted into films and cartoons from the original Marvel comics, there are various other graphic novels across a variety of genres that are yet to be adapted.
Here are five graphic novels we think deserve to be adapted into Netflix Originals:
5 graphic novels that deserve to be adapted into Netflix Originals
5. The Sculptor – Scott McCloud
Once again playing upon the anxiety, frustrations and vulnerabilities of a struggling artist, McCloud’s 2015 comic sees Dave, a poor artist who fails to make a mark in his career. After he strikes a deal with Death, his new abilities allow him to build any sculpture he pleases. However, he does not foresee falling in love or becoming a father. He most definitely does not foresee the other complications that await his life.
Ending on a tragic note, the graphic novel explores the essence of art and the artists while documenting their sacrifices and effort. It is also a poignant love story that deserves a live-action adaptation as it is a tale that deserves to be told to the masses who will connect with the obsessive nature of the protagonist in today’s fast-paced world.
4. The Comical Tragedy or Tragical Comedy of Mr. Punch – Neil Gaiman
A master of the graphic novel medium, Neil Gaiman is most celebrated for his The Sandman, which is set to premiere on Netflix in 2022. However, a much lesser-known comic of his, The Comical Tragedy or Tragical Comedy of Mr. Punch, seems to be the perfect pick for someone of Guillermo del Toro’s oeuvre to work on for a brilliant Netflix adaptation.
Terrifying, twisted and darkly humorous, the 1994 graphic novel records the childhood memories of the narrator who illustrates the various random experiences he has had in his life. Based on Gaiman’s general theme of memory and the act of doubting one’s memories, the graphic novel is a testament to how the creepy puppet show about the sinister life of Mr. Punch has a huge impact on him.
3. Persepolis – Marjane Satrapi
While there already exists an animated feature-length film following the panels from Satrapi’s memoir, Netflix, with its huge audience, would most likely touch more hearts with a live-action adaptation. In her polarising graphic novel, Satrapi brings out an excellent example of the Althusserian model of individual and subject as she deftly portrays the socio-political climate and turmoil in 1970s and ’80s Iran.
Chronicling her life as a rebellious teenager who is forced to conform to various regressive measures within the country, Satrapi’s autobiographical persona reflects her rebellion against the ISA and RSA in effect. Via each intense narrative, she recounts her experiences of having lived in a land of oppressive religious fanaticism.
2. Tokyo Ghost – Rick Remender, Sean Murphy
Written by Remender, drawn by Murphy and coloured by Matt Hollingsworth, this graphic novel abounds in unbridled violence, gore and sexual content. Essentially a love story, it is a love-child of A Clockwork Orange and Blade Runner, set in a futuristic, dystopian, tech-obsessed society. Bounty hunters Debbie Decay and Led Dent who usually hunt down targets are assigned to protect the garden city.
Amidst nature, they fall in love yet again before encountering various obstacles. A scathing social commentary that shows how technology tends to dumb down one’s brain, it flaunts a glaring portrait of the future in brilliant colours and visuals. The Netflix adaptation would require a highly skilled crew who could do absolute justice to the rich and luxuriant panels created by the illustrators while maintaining the general narrative flow.
1. Maus – Art Spiegelman
An unsettling and tragic read, Spiegelman’s narrative of trauma, grief and anguish is a story that needs to be told to a wider audience. Recounting the struggle of his father, Vladek, a Polish Jew during Hitler’s reign of terror, the weight and gravity each panel bears is unfathomable.
Partly autobiographical and partly a memoir, the graphic novel marks a historical account of the terrors Vladek and various other nameless, faceless Jews faced during the horrifying Holocaust. With anthropomorphic mice, cats, dogs and other animals bearing symbolism in this scathing tale, a Netflix adaptation would help convey the gut-wrenching horror to those oblivious to Spiegelman’s masterful work.