Joyous news! Blastr’s parent company Syfy has optioned Happy! for television! Happy! is a 2013 Image Comics miniseries by fan-favorite artist Darick Robertson (The Boys) and writer Grant Morrison that told the story of Nick Sax, a drunken, depraved hitman who starts seeing a bubbly blue cartoon pegasus named Happy.
Sound weird? It is! But that’s not even the tip of the weird iceberg when it comes to work of legendary comic book writer Grant Morrison.
Morrison has been writing comics for nearly 40 years and is one of the medium’s most subversive and best-selling authors. Best known for revitalizing obscure DC superheroes like Animal Man and Doom Patrol, for groundbreaking runs with nearly every major DC icon, and for a divisive run on the X-Men, Morrison also has an impressive body of work all his own. And many of them are just begging to get adapted for screens big and small.
Much of Morrison’s work — certainly most of his superhero work — is embedded quite firmly in the comic book medium, so many of his better-known series and runs on characters he didn’t create should probably avoid being taken out of it. Books like The Invisibles and The Filth seem too firmly planted in their medium to be taken out of it, but many of his smaller original creations could potentially make for very compelling viewing.
So here they are, the top five Morrison comics that need to break hypertime and get made yesterday. Disagree with one of the choices or omissions? Write me a sigil about it in the comments.
Morrison’s most recent project has already had rumors swirling around the internet that it had been optioned for a big-screen picture, but nothing official has been announced yet. But it should! This comic — which is returning soon — is an incredibly fun retelling of Santa Claus’ origin, bringing him back to his Siberian and Nordic roots, and cutting him loose in a way unlike anything done with the character before. Klaus is more Conan the Barbarian than jolly old man here, and is accompanied by a massive wolf, who assists him in removing tyranny and returning toys to a walled-off, snowy city.
Accompanied by the timeless and dynamic characters designs and vibrant colors of artist Dan Mora (Hexed), Klaus is exactly the kind of action-packed family adventure that Hollywood needs more of, and the kind of inventive but straightforward Morrison story they should be looking to adapt. It avoids Morrison’s usual narrative complexities for an extremely satisfying tale that could be a big action-fantasy franchise if done right in a film.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see a big screen adaptation of Annihilator, considering it was published by Legendary Entertainment’s comic division. Not only that, it’s also about something Hollywood loves: a screenwriter!
Ray Spass is a washed up screenwriter who is suffering from an incurable brain tumor as he writes his final script, a movie called “Annihilator.” It becomes exactly as meta-fictional as you’d expect from Morrison when the protagonist of Ray’s movie, Max Nomax, shows up in his house and whisks him away on the sci-fi journey to prevent the implosion of the universe that he’d been writing.
Artist Frazer Irving’s dark and sweltering vision of Los Angeles and the feverish color palette that comes with it could provide powerful inspiration to the right filmmakers, and the book’s dark humor would be a big hit with audiences. If Legendary is serious about making some good comic book movies, Annihilator should be at the top of their list.
The Avengers and the Justice League of America are cool and all, but not all superhero fans are American. Movies like Guardians—a Russian movie about a soviet superteam that features a bear-man wielding a minigun—and China’s League of Gods—a fantasy-action romp about a heroic team of Chinese deities, including a talking, fighting baby—prove there’s a desire amongst fans all over the world for something a bit different, and weird. Luckily that description fits Grant Morrison’s 18 Days perfectly.
In 18 Days, Morrison takes the Hindu epic the Mahabharata twists around in a classically Morrison fashion and then shoves it through a Jack Kirby-shaped filter. It’s a story rooted in time-tested legend that is suitably epic in scale and packed with flashy action. Morrison worked with publisher Graphic India and a host of Indian co-writers and artists on the series, so it has a really culturally authentic feel to it, while still retaining the iconic writer’s voice. 18 Days could be a potential blockbuster that would look and feel like no other movies (or Game of Thrones level TV show, even?) else out there.
JOE THE BARBARIAN
Joe the Barbarian is a trip down the rabbit hole with a teenager named Joe, who goes into diabetic shock on the toy-covered floor of his bedroom and begins to hallucinate that his toys — and awesome pet rat — are alive. But is it a hallucination at all? As Joe’s body embarks on a perilous journey for sugar, his mind dives deeper and deeper into the action-figure-inhabited fantasy world of his dreams. It’s a compelling journey with an all-ages appeal that Hollywood should definitely have their eye on.
While it could work in live-action, this one is actually a property that I’d like to see animated. Because, as anyone who has read the comic will probably tell you, this isn’t as much a Grant Morrison comic as it is a Sean Gordon Murphy one. The artist’s distinctive brush work and angular, shadowy style are the true stars of this comic, and it’d be a shame to lose that. An animated Joe the Barbarian movie that utilized Murphy’s visual style would be a spectacular sight to behold, and would really be the truest way of bringing Joe’s spectacular fantasy toy-world to life.
What if there was a movie like Homeward Bound, but instead the animals were escaping the military, and using experimental robotic battle suits to do it? If that sounds awesome to you, run down to your local comic shop right now and buy a copy of We3. When you’re done reading it, we can wonder together how the hell this isn’t a movie already.
Between Grant Morrison’s gut-wrenchingly emotional and blisteringly paced script and artist Frank Quitely’s masterful storytelling and stunningly detailed linework, We3 is close to being a perfect comic book. But unlike some of Morrison’s other work, it’s comic book-ness is not so ingrained in its core, leaving the high-concept of — just to say it one more time — stray animals in robot battle suits ripe for adaptation. We3 has to be adapted at some point, because it’s simply too good of an idea not to.