Straight Cross Media Adaptation and Why You Shouldn’t

aka Stop Copying Yourselves, Guys

I’m of the opinion that a straight adaptation does no favours to anyone. From a viewer’s perspective, they look like they’re just trying to cash in on a property without hiring a creative team. From my perspective, most of them also look like they’re saving money by not hiring a few medium consultants to fix the writing.

When adapting things across mediums, it’s always important to remember that different mediums allow for different storytelling methods and some methods that work in one don’t work in another. Movies are not comics. Comics and novels have different methods of showing and telling. Television shows cannot always be condensed into a neat little 120 minute package and not every comic would make a good movie.

Media specificity plays a huge part in why some things fail in their adaptation. Take the Sandman: Dream Hunters adaptation. While the text does a fine job of telling everything, comics are a visual medium. If the action isn’t shown panel by panel and is instead shown through the text, then you aren’t doing a very good job. The medium is important to take into account, as are the constraints that medium holds.

The other problem with straight cross media adaptation is that it actually adds no value to the property. If I’ve already seen the movie, why would I spend money read a comic with the exact same story, lines and outcome? Maybe if I were a collector or a completionist, but if you aren’t even going to do it well I don’t know if I’d bother.

There’s other ways to put properties into other mediums that will not only add value to the property, but will also work well within their mediums and may even draw in a larger fanbase, which is part of what these adaptations are all about. How do you do that?

Ah, that’s a post for another day.