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Top 10 Comics & Graphic Novels To Read Before They're Adapted

VO: AS WRITTEN BY: Michael Wynands
Written by Michael Wynands An adaptation is always best appreciated when you know the source material. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be counting down the Top 10 Comics & Graphic Novels To Read Before They're Adapted. For this list, we’ll be looking at popular and critically-acclaimed comics and graphic novels that you should really check out before they hit the big or small screen. We’re only considering comics and graphic novels for which direct adaptations are reportedly already in some stage of development for TV or film. Have an idea you want to see made into a WatchMojo video? Check out our suggest page at http://WatchMojo.comsuggest and submit your idea.
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An adaptation is always best appreciated when you know the source material. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be counting down the Top 10 Comics & Graphic Novels To Read Before They're Adapted.

For this list, we’ll be looking at popular and critically-acclaimed comics and graphic novels that you should really check out before they hit the big or small screen. We’re only considering comics and graphic novels for which direct adaptations are reportedly already in some stage of development for TV or film.

#10: “Watchmen” (1986-87)

Sure, it was already adapted for the big screen in 2009, but, like most Zack Snyder offerings, it proved to be a highly divisive film. Now the property is getting another shot, and this time in a serialized format on HBO. With Damon Lindelof, co-creator of Lost the excellent and captivating HBO series, the Leftovers, serving as showrunner, there’s plenty of reason to hope for a high quality, yet crowd-pleasing adaptation. Created by Alan Moore, Watchmen is considered by many to be the greatest graphic novel ever written, so whether you’re familiar it or not, now would be a good time to dive in as a primer for what is sure to be a buzzworthy series.

#9: “The Boys” (2006-12)

Considering how insanely violent and sexually explicit Garth Ennis’ comics tend to be, you’d think his titles, regardless of how popular they are, would be on a blacklist labelled “content to never be adapted” at pretty much every network. But we’re living in the post Westworld and Game of Thrones world, and his comics suddenly seem like viable candidates for tv. The creative team of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg successfully brought Ennis’ Preacher to AMC, and now they’re doing the same with his series, The Boys, for Amazon Studios. Be warned, the comics, which explore a world of corrupt superheroes and the team tasked with keeping them in line, isn’t for the faint of heart.

#8: “Lazarus” (2013-)

Comic book properties are a hot commodity these days, so when a new series comes out from an established writer, the adaptation rights get snatched up quick. This Image Comics series by Greg Rucka debuted in 2013, and by 2015, after a bidding war, Legendary Television walked away with the rights, despite the fact that the series hadn’t even concluded yet. Lazarus is an interesting concept - a dystopian future in which the world is ruled by just six families who’ve divied up the globe into feudal territories, each one defended by their genetically-enhanced warrior or “Lazarus.” It’s a compelling read, one that you’ll definitely want to check out before the series hits the small screen.

#7: “Hack/Slash”

An adaptation of this comic has been stewing in development hell for over a decade, but there finally appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel - or so we hope. Inspired by slasher films and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Hack/Slash follows our heroine, Cassie Hack, as she hunts down killer monsters, known as Slashers. There were talks of a film adaption as early as 2006, and those talks persisted up until about 2012. In 2015 however, Relativity announced a television adaptation. For fans of horror films, this series is a must read, and when the tv show finally gets made, we hope it translates into must-watch television too.

#6: “Scalped” (2007-12)

Easily one of the most inspired comic series of the new millenium, Scalped is part crime thriller, part modern western, set on a Native American reservation. The story dives deep into the setting’s unique cultural, economic and political situations as masterfully navigated by Jason Aaron and R. M. Guéra. Earning critical acclaim durings its five year run, Scalped was unsurprisingly picked up for a small screen adaptation. As a tv series, it would probably feel like Fargo meets Deadwood, but refreshingly focusing on a group that is grossly under-represented in popular media. A pilot was filmed for WGN America, but due to a possible buyout of the parent company, the property is reportedly still looking for a network.

#5: “Locke & Key” (2008-13)

A fantasy horror series, “Locke & Key tells the story of the Locke children, who discover keys that give them special abilities. Unfortunately, as they soon find out, there’s a malevolent force that also seeks to control these little pieces of extra-dimensional iron. If properly adapted for the small screen, this Eisner Award winning comic could be the next Stranger Things. In 2011, a pilot was filmed for 20th Century Fox and was even screened at San Diego Comic Con. Despite positive reviews, Fox ultimately decided to pass, but good things come to those who wait, and in 2017, a new pilot was ordered by Hulu - who will hopefully do an even better job with the brilliant source material.

#4: “Essex County” (2008-2009)

A truly one of a kind comic book creator, Jeff Lemire tells intimate stories like no other. From the wonderfully odd Sweet Tooth to his brilliantly fresh take on Moon Knight, he’s carved a niche for himself as a writer who refuses to play it safe. Though he’s tackled some big concepts, his career really got started with Essex County, a trilogy of short graphic novel stories set in rural Ontario, Canada. These emotionally-charged stories of family, growing up, loss and interpersonal connection earned Lemire critical acclaim and widespread attention. They’re also a rife with potential to be adapted for tv - which is just what the CBC plans to do.

#3: “Sex Criminals” (2013-)

In the age of the #metoo movement, a name like “Sex Criminals” is likely to raise a few eyebrows. But don’t worry, Sex Criminals is about consensual sexual partners committing crimes together, and it’s wildly original. After Suzie and Jon discover they both happen to have the ability to freeze time when they orgasm, they decide to work together to rob the bank that Jon works at. The series earned widespread critical acclaim, and as a result, the rights were acquired by Universal TV - to be produced by series creator Matt Fraction’s own company, which he founded alongside fellow comic book writer Sue DeConnick. These collaborators are also reportedly bringing The Wicked + The Divine to the small screen. Translation… you’ve got a bunch of great source material to get through ASAP.

#2: “The Umbrella Academy” (2007-13)

My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way has a penchant for hit-making, and it extends beyond music to the world of comics. In 2008, his critically-acclaimed series, Umbrella Academy, took home an Eisner award. Originally, a film adaptation was said to have been optioned by Universal Studios, but it fell through, only to be replaced with a tv series in 2015 - which, honestly, feels like a better fit for this story anyways. The series is set to debut on Netflix in 2018, which means you’ll want to get familiar with this peculiar period piece about dysfunctional child superheroics sooner rather than later.

#1: “Y: The Last Man” (2002-08)

This phenomenal series has been in some stage of development as either a film or television series for FAR too long. We’d rather have them do it right than quickly, but the wait has been agonizing. Thankfully, as of 2016, a series is officially in the works over at FX. Michael Green has been named showrunner, and given that he had a major hand in bringing Neil Gaiman’s American Gods to the small screen in such spectacular fashion, we have reason to believe this will be the adaptation that Brian K. Vaughan’s series deserves. For the uninitiated, meet Yorick and Ampersand, the last man on earth and his pet monkey - you’ll quickly understand the high demand for this adaptation.
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