Arrow and Agent Carter producers try to explain the zeitgeist of comic-book TV shows

Contributed by
Sep 19, 2014

With the fall season kicking off right about now, we stand at the precipice of a television landscape positively bursting at the seams with comic-book-based TV shows. So why now?

Just think about it: Arrow, The Flash, Constantine, Gotham, iZombie, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Agent Carter and The Walking Dead make up a positively huge ratio of comic properties on the small screen at one time. Of course, you also have a boatload of additional Marvel stuff in the works over at Netflix, and a half-dozen other comics shows scattered around other networks in various states of development, so there’s no sign of it slowing down anytime soon.

We already crunched the numbers a while back and found that genre shows crash and burn at the same rate as most other genres, like comedy and dramas, but it still begs the question — why are networks mining every funny book they can get their hands on?

The folks at The Hollywood Reporter caught up with a smattering of current showrunners to ask just that question, and it’s an interesting peek behind the curtain of what has become the buzziest zeitgeist in a long line of zeitgeists.

One man who’s played a fairly big role in the comic-to-TV revolution, Arrow’s Marc Guggenheim, said he believes a major component of the huge superhero push is because there’s a “perfect confluence” between technology and TV budgets, which finally “allows these characters to be realized in TV and film.” After seeing the stellar Flash pilot, it's hard to argue with his point.

Michele Fazekas, co-showrunner of ABC’s upcoming Agent Carter, said another component of the comic revolution revolves around the fact that shows like Arrow, and Smallville before that, have proven it’s a concept that can be successful with the right execution. For fearful TV networks, she said it can be “very attractive because it feels like people are taking less risk.”

There’s also the fact that comic-book movies are, obviously, blowing up the box office these days — meaning there’s a higher awareness for these properties than ever before. Here’s what Gotham show­runner Bruno Heller had to say about it:

“If you are going to address the largest possible audience, then it helps to use easily understandable, visually powerful material. That's what graphic novels are. They were designed to appeal to that largest possible audience.”

But it’s obviously not just superhero comics that are breaking big. The Walking Dead is like nothing else, and The CW’s iZombie isn’t exactly what your average fan would expect from a comic-based series. Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman said his zombie comic is “shedding a light on the wealth of non-superhero concepts that exist in comics,” adding that there’s “no end of fantastic comics” that could be adapted for television. As huge comic fans, we’d have to agree.

Though it might seem like we’re living in a renaissance for comic and genre fans, you do have to wonder if we’ll eventually hit the point of oversaturation. If nothing else, we won’t have to wait too long to find out. There are a boatload of comic shows debuting in the next several weeks, and the ratings should tell the tale of just how many adaptations viewers will take the time to watch.

The full Hollywood Reporter piece is well worth a read. How do you think it’ll all play out this fall? Which shows will you be watching?

(Via The Hollywood Reporter)

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