Happy Halloween readers, and welcome to an appropriately sinister edition of We Want Comics, the column about everything we at Multiversity want to see adapted into comic books. This week, we’re looking at Stephen King’s classic horror novel IT, which, with the help of a TV and film adaptation, unleashed the titular shapeshifting beast (aka Pennywise the Dancing Clown) on an unsuspecting public consciousness.
It’s a little strange that a creature as iconic as Pennywise hasn’t reared their head yet in comic books, and it’s not like King is a stranger to the medium, having licensed The Stand and The Dark Tower to Marvel, and co-written “American Vampire” with Scott Snyder. Here are three potential ways Pennywise for return (beware potential spoilers):
The original edition of IT was 1138 pages long: despite having been filmed twice, it is perhaps a truly unfilmable book, as its sheer length has meant screenwriters have had to sacrifice its flashback structure, focusing on one time period at a time so both halves get a satisfying conclusion. To quote Slate‘s Jack Hamilton, the TV miniseries and film “sacrifices the real emotional power that’s achieved through King’s deft intertwining of timeframes […] by the time we reach the novel’s end, it feels like we’ve gone through something like a lifetime with them.”
Sacrificing the book’s narrative structure may not be the case if someone were to say, adapt it into a 12-issue maxiseries – which should be more than enough time to capture the book’s sense of having been on a lifelong journey with the Losers’ Club. Unlike the two-part TV movie and feature film, an “IT” comic book would only have to worry about the one ending in its final issue.
After a straight adaptation of the book, Pennywise could most likely star in an intermittent series of prequels chronicling their 30-year cycle of attacks on the children of Derry. According the novel, It arrived in what would become Derry, Maine, during prehistoric times, and apparently awoke when European settlers colonized the region in the early 1700s.
That’s two centuries worth of time periods and cultural fears for artists to explore – the forms Pennywise would take to terrify its victims during the 19th century would be very different from those of the 20th century. As well as room to invent whole new casts of characters for Pennywise to terrify, writers could also explore how It decided children were its favorite prey, and the origin of its default clown form. (For more on potential past events that could be fleshed out, check out the Stephen King Wiki‘s handy timeline.)
Stephen King’s works take place in a shared multiverse, and in his 2001 novel Dreamcatcher, a character in Derry, Maine, observes a memorial vandalized with graffiti claiming “PENNYWISE LIVES.” That hint could all be the excuse a writer needs for a present day sequel to IT, if King never gets round to it. It’d be fascinating to what extent any living members of the Losers’ Club (who would be in their seventies) cross paths with a new generation of potential Pennywise victims.
Regarding creative teams, Cullen Bunn, the prolific writer behind “Harrow County” and many more horror series, could easily write an “IT” comic in his sleep – however, it’d be interesting to see what James Tynion IV could do with the story, given his work on books like “Justice League Dark,” “The Woods” and “The Backstagers,” which show a knack for writing young adult protagonists on top of spooky storytelling.
Artwise, Michelle Wong, the self-described horror fan who penciled “Goosebumps: Download and Die!” and the upcoming “Legend of Korra: Ruins of the Empire,” would be perfect: she can definitely illustrate horror, but it also has a sheen that would appeal to young adult readers. My second choice would be Martin Morazzo, whose gruesome and unsettling work in “Ice Cream Man” often feels like a spiritual cousin to IT.
How do you see the twisted history of Derry, Maine, being explored in comic books? Or perhaps there’s another Stephen King novel you’d like to see adapted into a series instead? As always, please do share your thoughts in the comments section below – we’ll float all your comments. We all float down there…Continued below