Thursday, October 27, 2011

10 Comics That Would Make Great Cartoons

Like many comic fans, I love cartoons. Cartoons helped introduce me to a bevy of comic book heroes, and I've continued to enjoy animated series as I've gotten older. There are some characters, like Batman and Spider-Man, who have seen several different animated series, but many more great comics and characters who deserve a chance to have their own cartoon. Here are 10 comics, in no particular order, that I think would make great cartoons.

1. Reed Gunther

The wild west is a terrific setting for cartoons. There's a lot about the setting that's familiar, but the environment lends itself to adventure, and clever writers can have a lot of fun playing with well worn tropes. The always wonderful Reed Gunther starts an often goofy but always lovable cowboy, who in place of a horse, rides a bear named Sterling. He is sometimes joined by Starla, a spirited rancher who plays off Reed beautifully. Reed Gunther is only 5 issues in, but the comic is so well paced and so packed with action that there's already a lot of great material to work with - giant snakes, monster making idols, and Reed and Sterling dealing with the dangers of the big city. A good cowboy cartoon could be huge, and I think Reed Sterling would make a great one.

2. Dial H For Hero

If Cartoon Network ever runs out of things to add onto the end of Ben 10's title, Dial H For Hero would make the perfect substitution. In Dial H For Hero, a group of kids stumble upon "H-Dials"- devices that allow them to become superheroes of their own creation. While in most cases, the hero was just a kid transformed into an adult superhero, at other times, the behavior of the H-Dials was more interesting. When the series' primary villain tried to use a H-Dial, he found he could only use it to become a hero. It overwrote his villainous nature and forced him to act heroicly while using the dialer's powers. In another storyline, the hero created by the kid using the dial was so well formed that he completely took over the child's personality. His memories were gone, and he recognized himself only as the character that the kid had imagined. These little things could make for some compelling season storylines, and the general premise of the series is perfect for both cartoons and toys.

3. Avengers Academy

Mettle is a meme of 4Chan. Reptil can turn into a freaking dinosaur! There is no reason that Avengers Academy shouldn't be huge with older kids. Reptil would work as a great carryover for kids who are outgrowing The Super Hero Squad Show, and the series would be a fantastic way for Marvel to introduce more obscure characters to a younger audience. The school setting will give kids a sense of familiarity, and there's enough angst and romance to win over kids who might not otherwise want to sit down with a show about superheroes. Avengers Academy is easily one of the best comics Marvel is publishing right now, and it deserves the kind of attention an animated series can bring.

4. The Intrepids

Cybernetic bears! Attack baboons! All the jetpacks you could ask for! The recently concluded series The Intrepids did its best to put all the fun it could into mad science, and largely succeeded. It centers around a team of 4 superheroes working to hone their skills while fighting to stop mad scientists from ruining the world. The art has this Darwyn Cooke-esque vibe that'd translate beautifully to animation, and the retro-pulp comic vibe would lend a lot of atmosphere to the series. The main cast is likable and compelling, and there are enough mysteries in the series to keep viewers interested to the very end. An Intrepids series would be a wonderful way to get some bright, action-packed fun at the end of the day when all I want to do is lie around and watch cartoons.

5.  Supergirl's Cosmic Adventures

I cannot praise Landry Walker's Supergirl's Cosmic Adventure in the 8th Grade enough.  The comic is smart, hilarious, and avoids all the cliches that plague stories centering on middle schoolers. It's one of my go-to books whenever I have the chance to gift a comic to a kid, and it's the first thing I recommend to parents looking for a female-led series for their daughter. Landry Walker has said he had plans to continue the series if DC was interested, and I'd love to see him get to do that in cartoon form. Now is the perfect time to launch a new show about a female superhero. There are tons of girls who've learned to love superheroes thanks to the plethora of comic based movies, and the new My Little Pony has proven that female characters won't scare off a male audience. There are already some plans to use Supergirl in the upcoming DC Nation animation block, but I'd love to see Cartoon Network take things one step further and develop a full Supergirl series based on this great comic.

6. Atomic Robo

Atomic Robo is a series about a robot created in 1923 who works with "Action Scientists" to take on paranormal threats, most of which are the plots of dastardly villains. Robo's rogues gallery contains both genuinely threatening villains as well as guys like Dr. Dinosaur, who tried to pretend he built a time machine out of sticks and rocks. Every storyline Atomic Robo has seen is packed full of fun, cartoon friendly ideals, from a vampire dimension to a ghostly version of Thomas Edison. Science and adventure go hand in hand in the Atomic Robo universe, and the series' title character is the comic world's answer to Forrest Gump. Robo's decades long history of daring exploits have left him just on the fringe of many important events in history- often in surprising and hilarious ways. An animated short has been teased, but a full-on animated series would be even better.

7. Gladstone's School For World Conquerors

Even the name sounds like the title of a cartoon! Gladstone's School For World Conquerors tales place at an underground academy for the children of supervillains, and plays with the concept of good and evil in really interesting ways. In this universe, the battle between heroes and villains is a lot like professional wrestling, but the kids have no idea everything is staged. The cast is delightful, from the wonderfully named Martian Jones to   the slightly tsundere Mummy Girl. There's a little bit of an anime vibe to the series that I think would appeal to a lot of viewers, and so many little things that I'd love to see animated, like Kid Nefarious' scarf. This comic is flat out hilarious while still managing to tell compelling stories- in some ways, it's like an all-ages take on Runways- and I think any cartoon based on this book would find a huge audience.

8. Justice League International

Some members of the JLI crew were used to great effect on Justice League Unlimited, but it's a mystery to me why they've never had their own animated series. It's a comedic take on superheroes. What's not to love. There's plenty of comedy in that series that would make it a great show for a younger audience, but it'd also be easy to ramp things up a little and create something like Archer with superpowers. As silly as Justice League International could sometimes get, the bond between these characters never felt like a joke, and it's something that I think would make the series relatable in a way many superhero shows aren't. Right now, there's a brand new Justice League International book at comic stores everywhere, and a show like this could convince people to give the new series a try and to go back and check out the old one. There's still so much potential left in the JLI concept, and a JLI cartoon would be the perfect way to make use of it.

9. Captain Britain and MI:13

If Marvel ever were to start creating shows for an older audience the way DC has with some of the DCAU and their direct to DVD movies, the tragically canceled title Captain Britain and the MI:13 would be the perfect way to do it. So much about the series is silly and/or fantastical- Dracula lives on the moon, superheroes wield Excalibur, a member of MI:13 is a Skrull version of John Lennon. But in spite of all that, the series had a tremendous emotional weight to it, and moments that could have easily come across as goofy were really powerful. By the same token, the series managed to find some real humor in dark places, and even when the comic felt a little more serious, it never stopped being fun. The comic is cartoon-y enough to make a great animated series, but is adult enough to really appeal to an older crown. Marvel has struggled to find success with their international heroes, and putting a terrific character like Captain Britain in the spotlight would be an excellent way to change that.

10. Super Dinosaur

Do I even need to write anything here? Super Dinosaur is a comic about a kid genius and his best pal, a genetically altered, superpowered Tyrannosaurus. Having once been a child myself, I can say with some confidence that  this is the kind of show every kid wants to see. The toy line alone would be incredible, and the action scenes that pit Super Dinosaur against the series many awesomely named bad guy dinosaurs would be even better. Super Dinosaur's creator, Robert Kirkman, is the man behind Walking Dead, which has had tremendous success as a TV series. It stands to reason that some of his other comics could be television hits too.

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