It seemed like everyone in the world was watching a little show called Game of Thrones. Based on George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, it was the show that put mature, adult fantasy on the radar for millions of people. Martin’s series is great, but it is already well represented across media, including comics. But we at Multiversity are big fans of fantasy books, from the bloody big doorstopper novels, to the prolific and sprawling series. We’ve taken a couple of our favorites and tried to imagine what they’d be like if they were adapted into comic books.
If you’ve got a big Game of Thrones-shaped hole in your life, maybe one of these can be your new favorite. And if you’re a bigwig comics exec looking for your next smash hit, this is a great place to start. We Want Comics proudly presents: We Want Fantasy!
It’d be remiss of us to talk about classic fantasy novels and not bring up Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea series, which followed the adventures of the young mage Ged on the titular archipelago. The books were adapted into a horribly whitewashed Syfy miniseries, and a surprisingly disappointing Studio Ghibli film (directed by Gorō Miyazaki instead of his father Hayao), neither of which pleased the late Le Guin. Saga Press published a fully illustrated edition of the books by Charles Vess last year, which proved to be an unexpectedly beautiful tribute to Le Guin after her passing: it would still be great if a faithful comic book adaptation were also produced to further honor her legacy. – Christopher Chiu-Tabet
The Gentleman Bastard Sequence: The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Leila del Duca
Game of Thrones is to Medieval England what The Gentleman Bastards is to Renaissance Venice. But with sharks in the canals. In the city of Camorr, many gods are worshiped, but Locke Lamora and his companions worship a secret god: the god of thieves. Worship of the god of thieves requires two rules be followed: “thieves prosper” (meaning they need to make themselves richer through stealing stuff), and “the rich remember” (meaning wealthy people are reminded that their power can be taken by servants of the god of thieves). Every book involves a high stakes heist, terrifying magicians, gladiators, pirates, betrayal, double crosses, and the deep love shared by the Gentleman Bastards themselves.
A Gentleman Bastards comic would be unbelievable. The city of Camorr and the wider world are rich and wonderful, and would lend themselves well to a visual medium like comics. The series could follow the books themselves, but there is a lot of latitude in the stories in could tell. After all, ‘fantasy thieves pull daring heists’ is a great starting premise. We could follow Locke and Jean (and Chains and Sabetha and Bug and the twins) in an ongoing as they pull complex jobs, or we could jump on over to the other criminals, spies, and assassins that make up the Carmorr underworld.
With so much complexity, we’ll need someone really smart to keep track of all the moving parts. That’s where Charles Soule comes in, who can somehow write 9 fantastic ongoing series across multiple publishers, work as a practicing lawyer, and publish original novels all at once. Anyone who can handle all of that can handle planning a heist in Camorr. On art we’ll want someone who can capture the epic fantasy scope while also finding time for sly humor. Between “Sleepless” and “Shutter,” that’s exactly the zone where Leila del Duca shines. Those two – cleverer than everybody else! – Jacob Hill
The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss
Writer: Ram V
Artist: Sana Takeda
If you’ve never heard of The Kingkiller Chronicle, it’s a wildly popular fantasy series about a young man’s rise to greatness and his mysterious fall to be the broken person he is in the book’s present timeline. It’s filled with music and magic, sword fighting and stories within the story itself, a magical university and a whole world to traverse. Revenge and love. Perhaps, at its heart, it is both a tale of love and of revenge, and the brilliant boy who wanted both.Continued below
It’s for this reason that Ram V should adapt the series into comic book form. Though no one knows the story like its own creator, Patrick Rothfuss, Rothfuss has been so far unable to pen the third book in the series, even 8 years after the release of the second book. Nevertheless, there is plenty of content between the first book, The Name of the Wind and the second, The Wise Man’s Fear, to last for several years of monthly issues. But as far as comic book writers go, Ram V excels at all the elements mentioned above. He’s proven his romantic, worldbuilding, and fantasy chops in titles like, “Paradiso,” “These Savage Shores,” and “Grafity’s Wall.”
While it might feel like a shame to waste such a creative mind on merely adapting the first two books into comics, Ram V might actually catch up to the third book, The Doors of Stone, before Rothfuss finishes writing it. With his experience and immense skill, plus a long runway of content from the first two books to familiarize himself with the world and its characters, Ram V would be brilliant.
But who to draw it? Well, it would have to be someone with range, talented at illustrating cities and countryside alike. And they’d have to be able to depict demonic creatures and intimate moments between characters. Plus, of course, music, magic, and swordfighting. Sana Takeda has shown massive talent on the critically acclaimed series, Monstress. Her intricate design work brings the magic and the monsters to life on the page, illustrating them beautifully. Another possible option would be Jo Mi-Gyeong, who’s currently drawing and coloring the indie comic, Beastlands, which stars a redheaded young man in a fantasy world, just like The Kingkiller Chronicle does.
But maybe you’re wondering less who should make The Kingkiller Chronicle and more if it should be made at all. If that describes you, here are some bullets that may help convince you:
- The series has sold over 10 million copies. That number was from four years ago, so you can imagine it’s much higher, now.
- Lionsgate bought the rights to the book series, and Showtime is set to air a TV series prequel to the books. Lin-Manuel Miranda will be an executive producer and is already composing music for the show.
- It’s a fantasy series that has something for everyone (as mentioned above): Romance, tragedy, music, fables, mystery, magic, and swordfighting.
- A comic series wouldn’t have to try to make all the events fit into a limited time, the way a film or TV adaptation would. It would be more evenly paced, and it wouldn’t have to make as many concessions for budget or actors or what channel or streaming service it’s hosted on. Essentially, this ensures a stricter adherence to the books.
- This may be the only way we get closure for the series, with no expected release date for the third book.
Plus, in the vacuum left by Game of Thrones ending, an epic fantasy like The Kingkiller Chronicle is sure to thrive. And in a world where comic book publishers like Dynamite, BOOM!, and Dark Horse hungrily pick up established intellectual property to adapt, it would only make sense for this fantasy gem to find a home in comics. – Matt Ligeti
The Ingary Chronicles, Volume 1: Howl’s Moving Castle
Writer & Letterer: Terry Moore
Artist: Tillie Walden.
Out in the wastes roams a wizard, bonded to a demon, whose heart is as fickle as a hummingbird’s wings. Deep in the city lies a woman, cursed by a witch, hindered by her own power and self-doubt. The two meet, by luck and by design, both needing the other but refusing to admit it. Both powerful but not knowing just how their power is doing them harm. Welcome to the world of Ingary, brought to life by two modern masters of the indie scene.
Yes, I know, there was a manga based on the movie and, while I love the film version, the book is a very different beast, with significantly more plots and subplots and a greater emphasis on narrative and wicked burns.Continued below
Baked into Diana Wynne Jones’s Howl’s Moving Castle is this ineffable charm that makes the world feel as familiar as the one right outside your door. Reading it conjures images of magic made mundane, of a romance built between two deeply insecure people, and all the cosy squabbling of an old married couple. It’s an almost anti-Game of Thrones approach to fantasy, where the focus is kept tight, the tone kept familial, even as the world is fleshed out and the stakes rise above the personal.
It’s a snarky story with stakes that never get too dire but the tension is always palpable through its many subplots, most of which never made it to the film adaptation. Adapting the whole of the first novel, as part one in a trilogy ala “Mage” or “American Gods,” may be a risky move but these two titans of the indie world could make that happen. It’s a self-contained story with room to breathe too, making it an excellent contender for an ongoing, an OGN or even a maxi-series.
There is no one else is better suited to bring the off-kilter world of Howl’s Moving Castle to life than these two. To truly capture the snarky but loving dialog and merge it with the stunning but off-kilter environment of fantasy (and reality) Wales, it’d be hard to do better than them. Tillie Walden has already proven adept at crafting unique but deeply familiar lands that breathe with magic in “On a Sunbeam” and Terry Moore has spent the past two to three decades refining his funny, emotional and charming character skills. The two are more than capable of capturing the tone of Jones’ world and bringing it to life. Both may be used to working solo, but putting the two together may bring about an adaptation greater than each could have produced on their own.
Plus, volume two, which adapts the connected but also independant next book, could have a completely different team or they could switch duties! Think of all the experimental posibilities! – Elias Rosner
Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere
When it comes to Brandon Sanderson, magic is a science. Every system has its rules, its “can” and “cannot” mechanics that work not unlike laws of physics in and of themselves. In the stories taking place within his “Cosmere” universe, each planet has its own (very real) gods out of the sixteen Shards of Adonalsium and intricate, highly developed magical systems (with some recurring facets such as the anti-magical properties of aluminum), its own relationship to the cosmos, and much more. The three-part “White Sand” graphic novel saga (based on an unpublished script by Brandon Sanderson himself) at Dynamite Entertainment is one such example, but there are plenty of avenues beyond the planet Taldain and its connection to Autonomy and sand mastery.
Rather than focus in on any one world, an argument can be made for a similar approach as Ales Kot’s “Bloodborne” comics: individual arcs that act as a kind of anthology across the various systems, each of which are disconnected from the others. From Braize to Nalthis to Roshar to Scadrial to Sel to Taldain and much, much more, there are multiple time periods within each world, multiple different kinds of stories, that can be told without needing to focus in on the main characters of each series. The occasional influence of “Hoid” or Frost would not go unwanted, perhaps as cameos not unlike the former’s various appearances throughout the franchise.
As for writers, there are a few that come to mind. Michael Moreci’s work with his Black Star Renegades novel and his brief work with the Dishonored franchise in “The Peeress and the Price” would make him an excellent candidate for such an endeavor. On the other hand, Greg Rucka’s habit of delving deep into research, into figuring out exactly how things work before coming out with new ways of working with what he has available would make for a very good option for such a science fantasy approach.
In terms of artists, Andrea Olimpieri’s artistry and Mattia Iacono could work together well to create a rougher style for some worlds, but a horror angle, such as working against users of Hemalurgy, could instead utilize the team of Joe Bennett and Ruy José to give the truly disturbing body horror angle that they first showed in “Immortal Hulk.” In all, it seems a variety of different artists could come through, depending on the kind of story and the kind of world. – Gregory EllnerContinued below
Let’s wrap up acknowledging a few more favorites: the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter would make amazing comics, hence why we’ve suggested them before. The video games based on Andrzej Sapkowski’s The Witcher have been adapted to comics several times, but with the Netflix series on the way, it would also be great to see a sleek and modern adaptation of the books themselves.
Finally, let’s talk about what are, in my opinion, the greatest fantasy books of all time – C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia (which also happens to be in the works at Netflix). If you were unaware, there was a graphic novelization of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, abridged and illustrated by Robin Lawrie, and published in 1999. It makes you wonder what other writers and artists could do with the rest of the series!
Be sure to let us know what you think in the comments, and what other fantasy works you would love to see an adaptation of or an expanded universe in the world of comics. To borrow from C.S. Lewis, there are things “so great and beautiful that I cannot write them.” – Christopher Chiu-Tabet