Comic Book Adaptation

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Movies and TV shows are often adapted into comic book form. Comics have certain advantages over other media: They are much easier and cheaper to produce than TV shows, and since the reader isn't restricted to experiencing the story at a particular time each day, the creators are more free to write longer-running, more complex stories.

Such adaptations tend to take three forms:

  1. The comic retells the story of the original work.
  2. The comic takes the characters and setting of the original, but tells a different series of stories.
  3. The comic continues where the original left off, or fills in the backstory.

In cases where the comic is intended to be released right from the start, it sometimes appears before the work from which it is adapted.

See also Anime First. For comics adapted into other media, see The Movie, Animated Adaptation, and Licensed Game. Sometimes, the end product will actually be called Name: The Comic Book.

Examples of Comic Book Adaptation include:


  • Western Publishing (Dell Comics, Gold Key Comics) did adaptations of many movies and TV shows, usually taking extensive liberties with the story and its continuity.

Adapted from Anime

  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha The Comics. Covers the quiet moments not shown in the anime before, during, and after the season that it supplements.
  • Vision of Escaflowne was adapted into two different, simultaneously published mangas. One was aimed at boys, and focused on the fighting at the expense of the Love Dodecahedron. The other was aimed at girls, and went into much more detail of the love story while downplaying the fighting aspect. Both are considered inferior to the anime.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya is an interesting example. The first manga adaptation was based off the light novels; however, it was utterly terrible, and when the anime was released, the author actually disowned his manga out of shame, and instead gave way for another, much better manga adaptation, this time based off the anime.
  • While the Pokémon mainline franchise has a few notable game-derived manga in their own rights, The Electric Tale of Pikachu is set in a verse heavily influenced by the first two seasons of the anime. Later seasons and the movies also got their own manga adaptations. Anime adaptations (including Electric Tale) are Type 2, the movie adaptations are Type 1.
  • The two Tenchi Muyo manga, No Need for Tenchi and The All-New Tenchi Muyo! (Tenchi Muyo! and Shin Tenchi Muyo! in Japan) is this. It was initially just a two volume story set in the OVA-verse, but when it proved popular, it kept going for an impressive 22-volume run, greatly expanding on the universe (even if it was just for that canon) and the characters living there.
  • A type 2 manga of The Big O was released.

Adapted from Comics

  • In a strange example, the WITCH comic was adapted into a manga to be published in Japan. There have also been manga adaptations of other existing "western-style" comic books, including Spider-Man and even Sabrina the Teenage Witch (albeit the latter was incorporated into the actual Archie publication itself).

Adapted from Films -- Animation

  • Several Disney Animated Canon movies have some sort of Comic Book Adaptation, which either end up in their own special promotional comic book/mini-series, or simply in the pages of Walt Disney's Comics and Stories. Sometimes both.
  • Gold Key's adaptation of The Beatles Yellow Submarine follows the basic premise of the film—the Blue Meanies attacking Pepperland—but it changes the entire continuity. A more faithful adaptation was planned in the late 90s after the movie was re-released on DVD but Apple (the Beatles' corporate entity) nixed it.

Adapted from Films -- Live-Action

  • Star Wars has a number of comics among its Expanded Universe titles.
  • Tommy
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show
  • There was a comic adaptation of Terry Gilliam's The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. Because it had a Comics Code seal, it suffered from Bowdlerisation, and compressed the dialogue very badly. The artwork isn't bad, though, if you can find a copy.
  • Cloverfield has a manga sidestory.
  • The soundtrack of Twenty Eight Days Later came with a prequel comic that explained the spread of the virus.
  • A comic strip published in 2000 promoting Shaun of the Dead, titled "There's Something About Mary" explained how Mary, the zombie girl who Shaun and Ed find in their garden, and other side-characters became zombies. The story now appears on the film's DVD as an extra feature.
  • The Warriors
  • The Wizard of Oz, with versions by DC Comics and Marvel Comics.
    • The first Marvel/DC collaboration was an oversized edition of MGM's Marvelous Wizard of Oz, based on the 1939 film. Marvel had almost completed its adaptation when they discovered that DC was working on their own adaptation and held the actual rights.
  • Graphic novels based on Clive Barker's Hellraiser were more like anthologies of short illustrated stories that invited writers and artists to contribute their own interpretations to the continuity. Adaptations of the movies were made later, and Pinhead had his own (brief) regular title with Marvel Universe.
  • The 2010 The a Team had two four-issue series released just prior to the film.
  • Inception had a one-shot comic, The Cobol Job, which recounts the events immediately leading up to the movie. A motion comic version is included in the Blu-ray release of the film.
  • An especially interesting example of these was Harvey's adaptation of The Flintstones. It presented the film's story in two forms—one drawn in the live-action style, the other drawn in the cartoon's style.
  • Similar to Flintstones movie instance, a comic adaptation of Ghostbusters II was published, with the characters drawn in their cartoon designs.
  • Bill and Teds Excellent Comic Book was an adaptation of Bill and Ted. It was written by Evan Dorkin, published by Marvel Comics, and ran for twelve issues.
  • The now-defunct publishers Dell Comics and Gold Key Comics published many standalone adaptations of movies from the 1950s through the 1970s, including many Walt Disney titles. Dell published many of these under its Four Color anthology title.
  • Three Ninjas Kickback [dead link].
  • Labyrinth has one, though it's based on the novelization. Justified, seeing as it would be hard to put the musical numbers into a comic book.

Adapted from Literature

  • The Saga of Darren Shan has a manga adaptation. Yes, it is amazing.
  • The first three The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy books were adapted by DC Comics.
  • The Dark Tower currently has an ongoing comic adaptation being published by Marvel; it has been reasonably well-received by fans of the books.
  • Battle Royale has had a manga made. The manga series differs from the novel in three areas. It is far more graphic (not surprising, considering it's in a visual format), spends much more time on developing the whole cast of characters, and unfortunately is much more cartoonish in terms of action as it approaches the conclusion.
  • The first two Artemis Fowl books. They retell the plot accurately and well, the art is quite eyecatching, and the graphic novels are pretty well-liked among casual fans, but the character designs have been criticized. A lot. Among the criticisms are characters who pass as human in the books looking like they couldn't pass for Rubber Forehead Aliens, Foaly the centaur appearing to have the top half of a baboon rather than a human, and just plain contradictions with the originals—Artemis's eyes not being blue is comparatively minor, but a pet peeve for his fangirls. Captain Holly Short, the heroine, is arguably recognizable only by her role in the story, as other than being female and attractive, the drawings have nothing in common with the descriptions—among other things, her hair is an ash-brown Bob Haircut instead of an auburn crew cut, and her skin colour has changed from coffee-brown to almost exactly the same shade as Artemis's.
  • The first book of Robert Asprin's Myth Adventures series was adapted into comic form by him and Phil Foglio; the adaptation was mostly faithful, but there were some noticeable differences, mostly to do with the motivations and ultimate fate of the Big Bad.
  • Some of the Discworld novels -- The Colour of Magic, The Light Fantastic, and Mort—have been adapted into graphic novels.
  • Maximum Ride had a manga adaptation by NaRae Lee.
  • Classics Illustrated printed comic versions of classic literature, such as Moby Dick, for 20 years.
    • Though a few comic book adaptations of the novels of Jane Austen existed prior to 2009, they were mostly small press, low profile works, such as the Graphic Classics inclusion of a short, black-and-white Northanger Abbey in their "Gothic Classics" anthology. However, in 2009, Marvel Comics revamped the "Marvel Illustrated" line and started adapting the novels. So far, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Emma have been adapted, with Hugo Petrus, Sonny Liew, and Janet Lee on art, respectively, and Nancy Butler on scripting. Northanger Abbey is scheduled to start shipping November 2011, with art again by Lee.
  • Deltora Quest has a manga adaptation to go along with its anime and Video Game counterparts, which mostly follow the original story but with a few changes (hair color changes, changes in story sequences, more battles...). Most of which have yet to come out of Japan.
  • Richard Matheson's seminal vampire novel I Am Legend (responsible for inspiring both Charlton Heston's The Omega Man and George Romero's Night of the Living Dead) was put in graphic novel form a few years ago. It is a great work, all black and white art, and contains virtually all of the original's text. Anyone reading it before reading the original novel could be forgiven for assuming it was a word for word transcription!
  • Quite a few of Neil Gaiman's novels and short stories have been adapted to comic book form.
    • Neverwhere had a 9 issue adaptation by Mike Carey which was otherwise pretty good but left out a few things (Lamia's not in it).
    • Theres a Coraline graphic novel that is probably one of the most loyal comic book adaptations this troper has ever read
    • Dark Horse Comics published 3 trade paperbacks adapting his short stories; Harlequin Valentine, 'Murder Mysteries' and 'Creatures of The Night' (it collects 'The Price' and 'Daughter of Owls')
    • Sandman:Dreamhunters, the only Sandman novel was turned into a comic book by Vertigo.
    • His short story 'Goliath' (the one based on The Matrix) was illustrated and put in with the Matrix comics.
  • The Warrior Cats series has four manga trilogies and a standalone volume that tell some side stories, such as a villain's backstory and what happened to a character when he disappeared for several books. The Super Editions, after the first one, also started doing a short manga chapter at the end that shows a brief scene that takes place after the end of the book.
  • Agatha Christie has over fifteen graphic novel adaptations of her works.
  • The comic version of Left Behind.
  • The Bible. No, seriously.

Adapted from Live-Action TV

  • The Babylon 5 comic is fully "in continuity", covering early events only mentioned in passing in the TV show.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel both have sequel comics currently being published.
    • Angel also has comic adaptations of some of the TV series' stories.
    • Both also had Type 2 comics while the shows were on the air.
  • The Prisoner was given a sequel in the four-issue comic miniseries "Shattered Visage" (books A through D), later collected, of course, in one volume. Patrick McGoohan read it and said he didn't hate it.
  • There's forty-plus years' worth of Doctor Who comics across various publishers. The style of later (1990s to present) comics have strongly influenced the 2005 television revival; Russell T. Davies is an avowed fan of the comics, even writing into Doctor Who Magazine to praise a particular character development.
  • There are two Firefly comic miniseries, Those Left Behind and Better Days, which fill in events between the series and the movie.
  • The first Star Trek comic started in 1967. Since then, the license has jumped between various publishers; currently, it's held by IDW, who publish stories based on the TV series and the movie reboot.
  • Pushing Daisies will have a 12-issue series from DC Comics to close out loose ends and unresolved plots from the series, written by Bryan Fuller. At least it has been announced.
  • Even Married With Children had a few years' worth of original comics based on it.
  • Charmed has a season 9 in comic book form.
  • In addition to the above, it should be noted that the now-defunct publishers Dell Comics, Gold Key, and Charlton published dozens upon dozens of comic books based upon TV series of the day, from westerns and sci-fi, to straight dramas. Some, like Gold Key's version The Twilight Zone, ran for decades after the original series ended. Many others ran for only one or two issues. One of the best examples of "keeping it alive" was a comic based upon a short-lived Boris Karloff series entitled Thriller. After the series was cancelled after one season, Gold Key, rather than cancelling the comic book version, renamed it Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery and kept it going for 20 years after the series ended and more than 10 years after Karloff himself died.
  • In Great Britain there have been numerous long-running publications featuring licensed comic strips based upon TV series. TV Comic ran for some 1,700 issues starting in 1952, and there was also TV Action, Countdown, TV Century 21 (aka TV 21) - based on Gerry Anderson's puppet series primarily, and Look-In, as well as a handful of series-specific publications such as Doctor Who Weekly which has featured an original comic strip based upon the TV series since 1979.
  • Apparently, there's a manga adaptation of Bones on the way. It's rumored to be a prequel of the show but there's not much info at the moment.

Adapted from Puppet Shows

  • The Muppet Show has recently been turned into a comic book adaptation, The Muppet Show Comic Book. While it doesn't have guest stars (for obvious reasons), it does well on focusing on characters and manages to get a lot of the show's regular sketches in.

Adapted from Theater

Adapted from Toys

  • Transformers has had quite a few. Generation 1 has had comics published by both Marvel and Dreamwave, and new stories are currently being published by IDW, not to mention several mangas. Dreamwave also was publishing an adaptation of the Unicron Trilogy before it went bankrupt. IDW is currently publishing both a sequel and a prequel to 2007's live movie, as well as an Animated comic. IDW also published a few Beast Wars: Fun Publications published Beast Wars and Beast Machines comics, while the Japanese-only Beast Wars II and Beast Wars Neo each had a companion manga.
    • The original comic series actually started slightly before the cartoon; essentially they were parallel canons working from the same starting point.
      • It then met up with the cartoon again when the 1986 movie adaptation came out, although the comic used an early script and abridged many scenes, leading to some odd differences.
  • G.I. Joe has also had multiple comics published, many of which are considered superior to the cartoon. Although the comic actually debuted a year before the animated series.
  • Throughout the full span of its run, Bionicle was accompanied by a comic series published by DC Comics. It was initially virtually the sole storytelling source for the series, and arguably remained the primary one throughout its run. Its successor line, Hero Factory, also has one; however, its distribution is limited to LEGO's magazine and the internet, instead of being a standalone comic book. Other LEGO lines have received smaller, lower-key comic adaptations on occasion as well, such as LEGO Exo-Force.

Adapted from Video Games

  • Kingdom Hearts had a manga adaptation.
  • Devil's Due is publishing a Killer7 comic, presumably to explain what the game is about.
  • Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis was adapted into a four part comic book series by Dark Horse Comics.
  • Due to the long-running status of Archie Comics Sonic the Hedgehog is the only thing left that tries to keep the Western continuity (Robotnik, Mobius, etc.) It was originally a spin-off inspired by the Saturday morning TV show's proposal.
  • Metroid has a manga series that depicts the events before the games. Reveals, among other things, how Samus and Ridley first met, Samus' time with the Chozo, and the history of Mother Brain and the Metroids.
  • Wild ARMs: Flower Thieves is set in Filgaia, but with different characters and a different continuity. There are also manga adaptations of the games themselves.
  • Resident Evil has had a number of comic book adaptations, all of which are fairly terrible excepting the Korean manhwa adaptation of Code Veronica which is slavishly accurate to the game. Meanwhile, Wildstorm released a couple of short-lived Resident Evil series in the late '90s, the latter of which managed to make STARS into an angst-laden version of G. I. Joe, even including a half-zombie member with Zombie Sense and a disgruntled convict who was given the choice of joining STARS or life in prison. They blow up a Mexican Day of the Dead celebration and circus. The first series uses the RE 1 and RE 2 characters, but in situations that featured things such a walking Fish Tyrant. The new 2009 series seems poised to join their ranks, as it begins with zombies in space and a main character named... Holiday Sugarman.
  • The writer/artist duo known collectively as Akira Himegawa has made official manga based off of several The Legend of Zelda titles: Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, Oracle of Seasons, Oracle of Ages, Four Swords Adventures, The Minish Cap, and Phantom Hourglass. They usually, though not always, follow the plot pretty well.
  • Back in the NES days, Nintendo authorized Valiant Comics to do a comic series based on a number of their most popular video game titles, including Super Mario Bros and Metroid. Their comics based on The Legend of Zelda are set in the world of the original NES Zelda games (the first two in the series), although rather than retelling the stories of those games as the manga do, they focus on the continuing adventures of Link and Zelda.
  • Super Mario Adventures, which was loosely based on Super Mario World and ran in Nintendo Power for a few issues.
  • Metal Gear Solid and its sequel were turned into comic book form by IDW, with art by Ashley Wood. Later, these comics were released in videogame form as the Digital Graphic Novels; essentially they were the comic books with limited interactive functions.
  • Mercenaries was turned into a three-issue comic book miniseries by Dynamite Entertainment in anticipation of the second game (Brian Reed wrote both the comic and Game Script). It features the mercenaries fighting in war between China and Taiwan, and gives Jennifer Mui two brothers on opposite sides of the conflict, Chris Jacobs trying (and failing) a fake defection, and Mattias Nilsson getting intel by drinking half the People's Liberation Army under the table.
  • Mega Man was supposed to be adapted into a comic by Dreamwave—but it came out at around the time Dreamwave was in the toilet, so to speak, and thus only three issues were released, with the fourth delayed for months and leaving a few plot threads hanging. If nothing else, the artwork was great, and the plot for the first three issues was all right.
  • Final Fantasy XII has a manga adaptation, and the story started a few times later in the game.
  • The Breath of Fire series has a whole series of Comic Book Adaptation treatments, including a separate set of Shoujo and Shounen comics for I, a side-story/continuation for II, and a complete "graphic novelisation" for IV.
    • The Comic Book Adaptation for IV is especially notable as it fell under the Fleeting Demographic Rule and the final volume is to be released just in time for the 10th anniversary of IV's release (lending to fan speculation that the manga was meant as Capcom's way of doing an acknowledgement of the anniversary). It is also the sole Breath of Fire-related Comic Book Adaptation that isn't Japan-only, having officially licensed Chinese and French versions.
  • The Persona series has a comic for each game, with the exception of Persona 2, which has at least three. They also provide the near-universally accepted names for the protagonists in each. Persona 2 is again exempt because the protagonists for those games already have Canon Names.
  • Pokémon has several adaptations, the most prominent of which is Pokémon Special (Pokémon Adventures in English markets). These are a combination of types 1 and 2, loosely retelling the games (challenging the gyms, fighting an evil Team) but adding subplots and character interactions that have no game basis.
  • There are several Street Fighter comic and manga adaptations, the most recent being the one by Udon.
  • Gotham City Impostors has one in the form of Batman Impostors. Due to the rather plot-less nature of the original videogame it's closest to being a Type 2.
  • Mortal Kombat Komiks.

Adapted from Visual Novel

Adapted from Western Animation

  • Gargoyles had a comic written by the original director, which followed on from the end of the second series of the cartoon. There was also a comic published by Marvel while the show was still in production. It portrayed Xanatos as an over-the-top evil villain and featured a romantic subplot between Goliath and a cloned amalgam of his own DNA combined with Elisa's. Needless to say it is Canon Discontinuity.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: the '80s cartoon, itself an adaptation of a comic (more or less) had its own comic spinoff, which rapidly developed its own characters and continuity and is still well-remembered among fans.
  • Teen Titans Go: Originally a tie-in book to the TV show, had A-name talents like J. Torres, Todd Nauck, and Sean Galloway working on it. After the show ended, the series continued a few of its unresolved story lines.
  • Most Disney movies and cartoons usually have some form of comic book adaptation. This includes DuckTales (1987), which was already an Animated Adaptation of Carl Barks' comic stories.
  • The Powerpuff Girls has had four of their TV episodes directly and indirectly distilled from stories from their comic book (by DC Comics). "Squirrely Burly" (issue #1, reprinted in #70) became season four episode "Stray Bullet." Issue #7's "Remote Controlled" was initially written as a season 1 episode but the staff feared a lawsuit from Fred Rogers (Mister Rogers Neighborhood), so they gave the outline to DC to do as the comic. The story would eventually surface in season 5 as "Neighbor Hood." Issue #21's "Big Fish Story" would be tweaked as the episode "Lying Around The House." Issue #46's "See You Later, Narrator" would see TV as "Simian Says," but the TV episode was produced and screened elsewhere before it aired in the U.S. and before the comic story was published. The adaptation of the Powerpuff Girls Movie was put on sale the same day as the movie release (July 3, 2002). An unmade episode, "Deja View", was published as issue #50 of the comic.
  • Since the original days of Tom and Jerry, various Hanna-Barbera cartoons have had comic books made based on them, published by different companies over the years (Dell, Gold Key, Whitman, Harvey Comics, Archie Comics, and most recently, DC Comics). Currently, though, Scooby Doo is the only one that still has a comic running.
    • In the Gold Key run, Scooby Doo had the gang going from solving mysteries as a hobby to being ghost breakers for hire. And Scooby Snacks were used only in the first issue.
  • During the original run of The Real Ghostbusters, a comic book series was also published. A few issues also came out several years after the show ended.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender has been adapted into "The Promise"
  • The Amazing Chan and The Chan Clan had four volumes published by Gold Key and drawn by Warren Tufts. They were adaptations of episodes 1, 2, 3, 5 and 11 plus a new adventure not seen in the cartoon.
  • In addition to the above, pretty much every major animated TV series of the late 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s saw comic book adaptations published by Dell Comics, Gold Key Comics, and Charlton Comics (now all defunct), with Marvel Comics taking a stab at Hanna-Barbera's stable of characters in the late 1970s; the H-B characters were also later licensed by Archie Comics and Harvey Comics.
  • In The Nineties Marvel had ones for The Ren and Stimpy Show and Rocko's Modern Life.