Animating Image: Which Series Should Follow "Chew" to Cartoon Glory?

Mon, April 28th, 2014 at 11:58am PDT

Comic Books
Brett White, Assistant Editor

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After getting jerked around by film rumors and TV deals that didn't pan out, fans of long-running Image Comics series "Chew" finally got the good news they deserve -- a full-length animated feature is currently in production! Written by series writer and co-creator John Layman and directed by Jeff Krelitz, the adaptation will star "The Walking Dead" actor Steven Yeun as Tony Chu and "The Guild" creator and star Felicia Day as Amelia Mintz. The actors have already begun voiceover sessions, so it looks like "Chew's" long journey to adaptation may have a happy ending.

With "Chew" becoming an animated feature -- a medium that's usually reserved for Big Two super heroics -- could other Image Comics series be far behind? After all, it might be easier for some of Image's more popular properties -- the ones with stunningly original art mixed with budget-breaking concepts -- to get the go ahead as independent animation features than big studio blockbusters. Here are five animated features we want to see happen in the wake of the "Chew" news.

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Pretty Deadly

The Eisner-nominated series by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Emma Ríos and Jordie Bellaire follows the story of a young girl named Sissy and her blind guardian, Fox, as they run afoul of Death's daughter, Deathface Ginny. The "Pretty Deadly" high concept combines tropes from both classic westerns as well as '70s revenge films, while also mixing in more than a few nods to mythology and horror. The first story arc would make for quite a compelling feature, and any adaptation that doesn't incorporate the one-two artistic punch from Ríos and Bellaire wouldn't really feel like "Pretty Deadly." Animation could capture Ríos' intimidatingly gorgeous pencils and Bellaire's lush color work in a way that live-action couldn't even touch.

Sex Criminals

So this would definitely be a "hard R" animated feature, but who's really looking to Image for family entertainment? The story of Suzie and Jon, two painfully average 20somethings that discover they can stop time when they orgasm, is perfectly suited to a feature film format -- and animation might just be the best way to make that happen. Matt Fraction's snappy dialogue is perfectly suited to animation, and Chip Zdarsky's clear and clean artistic style is an ideal fit for an animated adaptation. "Sex Criminals" presents itself as a completely grounded love story with only one foot in their high concept; animation can mix both grounded and high concept with aplomb. Seriously, Suzie's Queen-powered dance sequence is just begging to get animated.

I Kill Giants

Writer Joe Kelly and artist JM Ken Niimura's heartbreaking -- but ultimately life-affirming -- tale of teenager Barbara Thorson's larger-than-life school struggles and epic battle against metaphorical giants feels like it's already been adapted into an animated feature. Niimura's energetic linework and anime-infused pacing make "I Kill Giants" feel like it's moving right in front of your eyes. Kelly also has an impressive animation resume thanks to his membership in the Man of Action collective; the guy co-created "Ben 10"! Unlike most of the other entries on this list, "I Kill Giants" could actually appeal to the original "Ben 10" audience, as they're all now Barbara Thorson's age and possibly struggling against very similar giants.

Suburban Glamour

If any artist's work begs to be animated, it's Jamie McKelvie's. In his creator-owned series "Suburban Glamour", McKelvie applied his stylistic and emotional cartooning to a world where teenage angst reigns supreme and secret sects of mythological beings lurk around every street corner. McKelvie infuses lead character Astrid Johnson's every move with palpably awkward energy as she learns of her real heritage as a mystical being. Any animator would have their work cut out for them, trying to capture every nuance of McKelvie's storytelling, but the end result would be fantastic. Plus, all of those monster masks and faerie spells might be a bit hard to pull off in a live-action film.

The Manhattan Projects

Jonathan Hickman's alternate historical take on World War II-era juggernauts of science would need an "Avengers"-level budget in order to jump into our dimension's movie theaters. Wormholes, evil doppelgangers, aliens, robot limbs, talking dogs, and artificial intelligences populate this frenetic, serialized reimagining of the circumstances that led to the scientific leaps America made over a twenty-year period of history. Nick Pitarra's slightly off-kilter likenesses for popular figures like Albert Einstein, John F. Kennedy, Harry S. Truman, and FDR would also work better than whatever doppelgangers a casting director would have to assemble for a live-action film. And just like "Sex Criminals," "The Manhattan Projects" would have to be an adults-only affair, thanks to some of the characters' less-than-ethical shenanigans.

TAGS:  image comics, chew, pretty deadly, sex criminals, i kill giants, suburban glamour, the manhattan projects

 
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