Welcome back to We Want Comics, a column exploring intellectual properties, whether they’re movies, TV shows, novels or video games, that we want adapted into comic books. Today we’re exploring a show that has outlived expectations on so many levels: the WB/CW juggernaut Supernatural, which recently announced that next year’s 15th (!!) season will be its last. And as if 15 seasons across two networks, three U.S. Presidents, and at least seven different versions of the iPhone wasn’t enough, the show birthed a fandom that has built friendships, banded together to do good in the world, and saved lives. Not bad for two good looking guys who spend their days hunting down demons of both the literal and figurative kind.
Now there have been Supernatural comics before. DC published four miniseries between 2007 and 2012, some written by writers and producers on the show. These comics are prequels, set before the events of the TV show. What I want to explore here is the comic possibilities coming out of what aired on TV itself, what could be the next stage for this franchise that will certainly live on long after that final episode airs on the CW sometime next spring. So pour yourself a Purple Nurple, get a slice of pie, and let’s see if we can get Dean something to read that isn’t Busty Asian Beauties.
Many a TV show has had a second life in comics, from the dearly departed like Buffy to comic adaptations of current shows, like Stranger Things and GLOW. Personally speaking, it was the comic continuation of the 2006-2008 CBS TV series Jericho that got me into comics in the first place, so this connection between comics and TV has a special place in my heart. Making the jump from medium to medium brings TV fans over to comics and vice versa – – and everyone wins.
But with over 300 episodes of Supernatural, which ones should make the move from screen to sequential storytelling to delight fans? There’s lists all over the internet of the best episodes of the show, and fans will have their own favorites (as well as ones to avoid). However, there are several that critics and fans can agree are the cream of the crop of the show:
- “The French Mistake” (Season 6): This was breaking the fourth wall, Deadpool style, with Sam and Dean in an alternate universe where they were known as Jared and Jensen, their real world names. Mishamigos unite!
- “Scoobynatural” (Season 13): Sam and Dean get animated, literally.
- “Baby” (Season 11): After the Winchesters and their partisans, the real star of the show is Baby, the boys’ 1968 black Chevy Impala. (Hell, I dressed up one Halloween as Baby.) This episode put everything from the perspective of the car, illustrating just how significant Baby is in the Winchesters’ lives.
- “Lazarus Rising” (Season 4): The introduction of everyone’s favorite angel Castiel and Nicest Guy in the World Misha Collins
- “Changing Channels” (Season 5): A straight up parody of TV shows featuring Sam and Dean stuck in everything from retro sitcoms to a Grey’s Anatomy parody (that Dean secretly loves). Like with “The French Mistake” his show is at its best when it makes fun of itself.
- “Death’s Door” (Season 7): A heartbreaking farewell to your favorite idjit and mine, Bobby, this was a comprehensive look at the life of the second father to Sam and Dean.
- “Fan Fiction” (Season 10): The series 200th episode with both fan fiction and a musical, which also brought back some familiar faces.
These and other episodes collected together could make for a fun anthology to celebrate the series’s legacy. Perhaps even some of those “worst” episodes could get renewed life in comics, exploring aspects of the story that their television airings missed.
There have been two attempts to create spinoffs for the show, courtesy of backdoor pilots: Supernatural: Bloodlines, a backdoor pilot from the ninth season that would have focused on hunters and demons in the Windy City, and the thirteenth season’s Wayward Sisters, focusing on Sheriffs Jody Mills and Donna Hanscum and their ragtag family of young women. What both these series tried to do is replicate what makes the parent show so great but with a different spin, either in a set location or in gender swapping. Neither show was picked up for television (and trust me, I’m still heartbroken over Wayward Sisters), but comics can give life where television cannot.Continued below
Eve Ewing has been doing a fine job writing Marvel’s Ironheart series and imbibing it with equal doses feminist empowerment and love letter to her hometown of Chicago, and I could see her taking on either or both of these series and doing it proper justice. If she could do both, crossover potential between the two would be limitless. Artwork would have to be handled by someone who knows how to balance darkness and humor, someone who can handle grand supernatural (pardon the pun) tableaus but allow for moments of lightheartedness. Jen Bartel’s Blackbird is a series that has stuck in my mind all year, and her art style from that series would work just as well, if not better, on these spinoffs.
There’s more spinoff potential not just in what the TV show tried to do formally. Since he was introduced in the fourth season, Misha Collins’ angel Castiel has risen to the heights of fan popularity as the Winchesters. We can imagine a whole series of Castiel adventures doing battle with the archangels, and chasing down his own adventures on Earth. Tim Seeley or John Allison could have great fun with these less than angelic angels and Castiel’s sometimes misguided humor. And let’s reunite the Shirtless Bear-Fighter team of Jody LeHeup and Sebastian Girner for a look at the early life of Bobby Singer, or even the Ghostfacers.
The Monster Lore
Throughout the years, Supernatural has taken great care with the lore of all the creatures Sam, Dean, and Castiel face, with careful attention to detail and a representation from a wide variety of cultures. While there is a prose companion exploring all of Sam and Dean’s creature lore, a graphic novel companion would add depth to all the notes, observations, and memories from all the Winchesters’ hunts. Emil Ferris’s sketchbook style from “My Favorite Thing is Monsters” would make this a true diary and sketchbook to fight the war against the darkness.
Every property has its fans. But Supernatural fans aren’t just fans, they’re family. It’s not just friendship – the #SPNFamily looks out for each other, because as Bobby once told us, “family don’t end with blood.” That family has come together to support not just each other in tough times, but to change the world. Misha Collins birthed GISH (the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt), as a way to help the show win a People’s Choice Award back in 2011. Since then this crazy scavenger hunt raised money for charity, changed lives around the world, set Guinness World Records, and allowed fans to let their hair down and escape normalcy for one week in the summer.
Several stories of how the show changed lives – – from fans, from actors, from producers – – were collected in “Family Don’t End with Blood: Cast and Fans on How Supernatural Has Changed Lives,“ and like the monster companion detailed above, an illustrated edition would take the emotional impact of these stories to another level. This can be an anthology with a murderers’ row of artistic contributions, or one from a singular artist. For that latter route, I would love to see Sina Grace, a man who knows how to illustrate a powerful memoir in nothing but simple pencil strokes as he did in “Self-Obsessed” and “Nothing Lasts Forever” – – that journey from vulnerability to hope.
(Owing to the charitable aspects that bring Supernatural fans together – – GISH participation goes to support Misha Collins’ charity Random Acts – – it is only fitting that any #SPNFamily comic would have its proceeds supporting Random Acts, or any of the other charities that the cast has supported over the years.)
If there’s one thing I know about our SPN Family, I know they have opinions. So tell me what you would want to see in a Supernatural comic in the comments!