Welcome back to We Want Comics, where we look at all the shows, books, and movies that we want to see given a comic adaptation. This time, we’re going back to the ’90s to take a look at an old favorite book series (and its less successful live action TV series): Animorphs.
For those unfamiliar, Animorphs was a book series by K. A. Applegate (and several ghostwriters), which was published from 1996 to 2001. It featured a group of teenagers who, after seeing an alien (Andalite) ship crash land, were given the power to morph into any animal they came into contact with. They used those powers to fight an invasion of aliens called Yeerks, who would slowly, secretly conquer a planet by taking over the minds of its inhabitants.
With 54 books in the main series, plus several spinoffs and side-stories, there are a lot of tales that a comic adaptation could cover. And let me tell you, these books got dark as they went on. It dove into discussions of war, morality, sacrifice, innocence – did I mention that these are teenagers fighting a war? While the idea of changing into animals and secretly saving the world might sound lighthearted, the subject matter grew more and more serious and dark as the story advanced and the readers grew up.
So, what comics could we get from this long-running series? I’m glad you asked! Brace yourself for spoilers (although really, after 17 years I’d hope the statute of limitations has run out on that) and read on.
Of course, the first comic adaptation could cover the main series itself. It’s almost surprising that there aren’t any comic versions of it yet, because as I mentioned, there are a lot of books to cover.
As an artistic medium, comics can bring the aliens and worlds of the books to life in a way the TV show never could with the budget and effects of its time. Characters morphing to and from animal form is nothing new to comics, but a good artist could bring out every aspect of the morphing sequence, even the occasional body horror. Throw in the wide range of alien types, from the centipede-like Taxxons to the blue-furred, centaur-like, scorpion-tailed, multi-eyed Andalites, and you’ve got some great visual styles.
Since each book is narrated from a different character’s point-of-view, comic-style narration boxes can serve it well. They’re a good way to provide internal monologues that match those of the books, giving us more insight into the characters and their thoughts.
The books ran the gamut of tone and style as well, depending on the events of each book. The series could feature the Animorphs team finding an internet chat room about Yeerks in one book, getting sent into a post-apocalyptic future in the next, then getting sent into space to fight in a cosmic war game by godlike beings in another. So while there’s no lack of material to choose from, there are some stories that should absolutely be adapted.
“The Invasion” — The first book in the series, it establishes everything we need to know about the Animorphs moving forward. They get their powers, learn about the Yeerk invasion, learn how their powers work and go on their first mission. It was a great way to establish the series, and proved to be an unforgettable introduction.
“The Encounter” — One of the rules for morphing in the series was “never stay morphed for more than two hours.” Early on, Tobias was forced to break that rule, and got stuck as a red-tailed hawk as a result. A comic about this story could show us the world through his eyes, as he lives as both a hawk and member of the Animorphs, adapting to a life as an animal and trying to maintain his humanity.
“The Message” – this is the book that introduced the Andalite member of the Animorphs, Ax. Not only that, but as it takes place underwater, it could provide the artist with the opportunity to draw some amazing aquatic set pieces.
“The Capture” – This book terrified me as a child, and I’m not afraid to admit it. After all, it features Jake, the leader of the Animorphs and narrator of the book, getting taken over by a Yeerk. The idea of an alien creature controlling your brain is terrifying enough as it is, but getting to experience it through the main character’s eyes? Now that’s quite the tale.Continued below
“The Discovery,” “The Threat,” and “The Solution” – These three books made up “The David Trilogy,” wherein a seventh member joins the Animorphs team. This story not only turned dark fast, it was one of the biggest turning points in the series, as the characters had to make hard decisions for the fate of the world, and cross lines they’d much rather not.
Of course, it goes without saying that the final arcs should also be adapted, but these are some of the biggest ones leading up to that point. Other books involve kind-hearted alien robots who turned wolves into dogs way back when, tiny little comic relief alien invaders, and an underwater society of humans with gills. The books covered a lot, and any of them would make a great comic story.
The Hork-Bajir Chronicles
There are several aliens that appear both as allies and enemies of the Animorphs. One of the most unique ones were the Hork-Bajir, a peaceful species who were turned into deadly killers by the Yeerks. This book took a look at the past, before the Hork-Bajir were conquered, and brought readers into a unique alien culture.
Not to mention the illustrations we could get out of this. A new alien world, a forest filled with an alien species, and all the ways a talented artist could bring it to life. Who wouldn’t want to see that?
The Andalite Chronicles
The entire story kicked off when the Andalite, Elfangor-Sirinial-Shamtul, crashed on Earth and gave the Animorphs the power to morph. Later, they were joined by his younger brother, Aximili-Esgarrouth-Isthill (Ax for short). But little was actually known about Elfangor – he died pretty early on in the first book, after all.
Then The Andalite Chronicles came along, and we got to see his past. It turned into an epic story of soldiers, time travel, and the consequences of one’s actions. Several characters familiar to the books’ readers are connected in this tale, including the twist revelation that Elfangor is Tobias’s real father. Crazy, right?
In the Time of Dinosaurs
This was a “Megamorphs” book, where multiple characters served as narrators. The story’s connection to the main plot was a little thin, but it gave us the Animorphs turning into dinosaurs, what else could you ask for?
Oh, and it turns out aliens invented broccoli. The more you know.
The question that remains is: who would illustrate these stories? With all the transformations, action, and aliens, who could possibly bring it all to life? A few artists come to mind, the first being Max Dunbar. His work on “Rat Queens Special: Orc Dave” is beautiful, but he also brings unique designs and action to life in his current work on “Champions.”
Stjepan Sejic’s detailed art style could also work very well at making the various aliens pop off the page, and I can imagine his style working well with the horrors of Yeerk possession. Not to mention his work on “Aquaman” from a short while back would translate very well to the underwater scenes in stories like “The Message.”
Although it’s also hard for me to look at “Faith Dreamside” showing us Animalia turning into a boxing kangaroo and not think that MJ Kim would be a great fit as well.
So what about you, good readers? What Animorphs stories would you like to see turned into comic form? Would you like to see how the Chee look on paper? How about the Helmacrons? What artists do you think would be a great fit for the series? Let us know your thoughts below!