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    100 Bullets: The TV Show

    By | July 8th, 2009
    Posted in News | % Comments

    Whenever I read a Vertigo series, I often say to myself, “How would this work as a show or as a movie?” This is usually the best way for me to approach the upcoming dread that, most likely, these books will be turned into a movie. For example, I wrote an article a little while ago about the upcoming proposed Y: The Last Man movie. On top of that, ABC has optioned Fables to become an hour long show in their line-up (which is a terrible move). Preacher has been in development hell for a while now, at one time possibly becoming a television show itself. But what of my other big favorite Vertigo series, 100 Bullets? Well, I’m pleased to pass along the report that it looks like 100 Bullets could become an HBO television series.

    Can I get a resounding F-Star-Star-K yes, people?

    Now, this isn’t neccesarily true in any form or fashion. Brian (Azarello, maniacal genius behind the series) said that if this were to be adapted, he’d see it adapted to a television series, commenting, “Television… or maybe something that’s not just TV.” People ‘in the biz’ have taken this to be a reference to HBO’s popular slogan, “It’s not TV.. it’s HBO.” Of course, this could mean absolutely nothing. HBO might just be hearing about this themselves. The inevitability that someone will want to option this exists, though. Originality in the visual medium is slowly dying out and people just LOVE optioning indie comics. And why not, right? The stories in them are great. The fanbase is devoted. And on top of that, more people would certainly love the stories held inside if they just gave them a chance. The problem with comics is just advertising them to the correct audience because some people believe comic books are for kids. However, adult-themed comics have really boosted the industry as far as sales go, and they are the type of comics that consistently bring in new readers who want to read something not overly superhero oriented. So if you can’t come up with your own idea, just go to the comic store and see what all the kids are raving about these days, and you’re sure to have a hit!

    This is not to belittle the idea in any way. I actually think that, out of all the comics they could possibly have optioned, 100 Bullets is a great choice. The thing about it is: 100 Bullets could NEVER work as a movie. The way it’s plot works is very conceivable on a television show but not in a 2 hour flick. It can feature a wide cast of characters and change it’s focus per episode. While the opening of the series deals with characters we’d never met, we quickly learn of the over-arcing conspiracy that consistently looms in the background, and the fact that there are a large amount of recurring characters suits it well for a television program. I could see a 3 issue arc easily condensed into a singular episode. It also fits HBO’s MO very well. HBO has been known in the past for hard hitting crime drama shows, like the Wire and the Sopranos. 100 Bullets would fit very well into their line-up.

    On the other hand, what works in the comic will not work on the screen. For instance, one of my favorite issues of how clever the series is is a very early issue, probably #4 or 5, in which a character receives his 100 bullets and proceeds to go out and take his revenge. While we learn that the person he goes against has a more important purpose, there is something happening in the background of each panel that at first seems like an allegory for the events but later turns out to be important in it’s own right when the character featured in the background appears with the mysterious Graves. It was at that moment in reading this series that it truly stood out for me as a defining crime noir comic. This would never conceivably work on the television show, however. While the focus in a comic can easily stray between panels, what we see on camera is usually straight forward. I don’t feel that you can easily cut stuff like that out either, not without taking out some of the comics core charm. The plot is greatly wrapped in a conspiracy mystery, and all roads lead to one another in the end. While this could be done on camera, it would definitely come at a risk against the plot. Is it a risk worth taking?

    Continued below

    As I’ve noted in the past, when you work on a story-specific comic and you cut out a lot, you end up with a sub-par product, i.e. the feature film Watchmen. When you take a group of characters who have consistently re-interpretted pasts and appearances, you end up with an entertaining film, i.e. the majority of super hero films from Marvel and DC. 100 Bullets is a story-specific property and it needs to be treated with the respect any novel turned to movie would receive. While the way events unfold do most definitely allow for more room for “interpretation” (so to speak), whoever ends up creating the show needs to keep it’s fundamental elements in mind. What works in a comic book will not always work on the screen, and as much as I’d love to see a live action version of this story, I’d rather not have a shoddy product “just because.” The first correct step in the adaptation was already made: making it a TV show instead of a movie. Let’s hope they don’t screw it up from here.


    Matthew Meylikhov

    Once upon a time, Matthew Meylikhov became the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Multiversity Comics, where he was known for his beard and fondness for cats. Then he became only one of those things. Now, if you listen really carefully at night, you may still hear from whispers on the wind a faint voice saying, "X-Men Origins: Wolverine is not as bad as everyone says it issss."

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