Greatest Comic Book Adaptations

#15- Barbarella

Directed by Roger Vadim

The Comic:

What many people don’t realize is that Barbarella is a French science fiction comic book created by Jean-Claude Forest for serialisation in the French magazine V-Magazine in spring 1962. In 1964 Eric Losfeld later published these strips as a stand-alone book, under the title Barbarella. The stand-alone version caused a scandal and became known as the first “adult” comic-book, despite its eroticism being slight. The original comic book version of Barbarella was modelled on Brigitte Bardot. Interesting enough the actress was once married to the director of the 1968 film, Roger Vadim. Barbarella is also mentioned in Serge Gainsbourg’s song “Qui est In Qui est Out”. Bardot at one point in her life also had a romantic relationship with the French singer.

The Movie:

A kitsch cult classic about a 41st-century female astronaut on a mission to find Duran Duran, a scientist who has disappeared with the galaxy’s deadliest weapon. The plot is blissfully dispensable, but Terry Southern’s dialogue occasionally sparkles, the art direction is a delight (as shot by Claude Renoir), the costumes are a fetishistic gem and Jane Fonda never looked better. In many ways an awful film, certainly, but undeniably watchable.

#14- From Hell

Directed by Albert Hughes & Allen Hughes

The Comic:

By the end of the 1980s, Moore felt disillusioned with mainstream comic publishing since he didn’t own Watchmen or any other characters he created for DC. So in 1989 Moore and illustrator Eddie Campbell began working on From Hell, a comic book series speculating upon the identity and motives of Jack the Ripper. The title is taken from the first words of the “From Hell” letter, which some authorities believe was an authentic message sent from the killer in 1888. The collected edition is 572 pages long. The 2000 and later edition are the most common of all prints.

The Movie:

The Hughes brothers (Menace 2 Society) have brought Alan Moore’s acclaimed graphic novel to the screen delivering extremely impressive production values – gorgeous cinematography, and a grim musical score by Trevor Jones. Although not perfect, From Hell is better than all previous movies about the legendary serial killer and succeeds because of the powerful performances from entire cast.

#13- Gainsbourg

Directed by Joann Sfar

The Comic:

Comic book/graphic novel adaptations have been fashionable for a while and now Joann Sfar has taken the form into biopic territory with the adaptation of his biographical graphic novel Gainsbourg (Vie héroïque), a glimpse at the life of French singer Serge Gainsbourg. The novel follows Gainsbourg growing up in 1940s Nazi-occupied Paris through his successful song-writing years in the 1960s to his death in 1991 at the age of 62.

The Movie:

Gainsbourg (vie heroique) is an entertaining, evocative and faithful depiction/celebration to the famed French singer’s lascivious life. Beautifilly photographed with a superb performance from Eric Elmosnino, Joann Sfar’s directing debut makes him a filmmaker to look out for. The movie is just as fascinating and fantastic as the man it pays tribute to.

#12- Danger: Diabolik (1968)

Directed by Mario Bava

The Comic:

Created by sisters Angela and Luciana Giussani in 1962, Diabolik unlike most other superheroes has no superpowers. Rather, he is a master thief / an anti-hero / criminal genius who targets the underworld with his lover Eva Kant. His stories appeared in monthly black and white digest-sized booklets, inspired by several previous characters from Italian and French pulp fiction. Diabolik was first portrayed as violent with little compassion for others but the later the comic books depict him to be more like Robin Hood, who tries not to hurt the innocent but won’t hesitate to take down anyone who gets in his way.

The Movie:

Italian filmmaker Mario Bava directs this super-stylish live-action adaptation of the popular 1960s European comic-strip. Danger Diabolik is a campy tongue-in-cheek mix of spy movie, heist thriller, and anti-establishment satire. This well-crafted film features exquisite psychedelic sets, outlandish costumes and is propelled by an outrageous electric guitar and sitar-laden score by Ennio Morricone.

#11- Akira

Directed by Katsuhiro Ôtomo

The Comic:

Created by Katsuhiro Otomo, Akira is an amazing, unbelievably-detailed, engrossing, visually stunning, and extremely well written graphic novel. The six-volume manga series is set in a post-apocalyptic metropolis reminiscent of Blade Runner where Tetsuo, a fiercely individualistic member of a motorcycle gang becomes the victim of a covert military operation. He’s subjected to a series of tests that unleash his hidden psychic abilities, which enable him to overcome his timidity and battle his oppressors, while at the expense of his sanity.

The Movie:

Not necessarily the first nor the best anime, but Akira introduced most Americans to the genre and if you haven’t yet been converted to the breathtakingly vivid world of Anime, Akira is an excellent place to start. Produced at a cost of $8 million, Akira is the most expensive animated feature ever made in Japan (over 1 billion yen) and it’s easily the most impressive – a slick expressionist blend of 2001, The Warriors, Blade Runner and Forbidden Planet that came with all the hallmarks of an instant cult classic. The animation is astounding – 160,000 cells worth, exceptionally detailed, realistic, fluid and multidimensional. Akira is a must see.

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By Ricky

Ricky D is the editor-in-chief of Sound on Sight and one of the hosts of the Sound On Sight podcast and the Sordid Cinema podcast. He is Sound On Sight's expert on Horror and contributes written reviews when time permits.

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