From the Golden Age of radio to modern day big screen blockbuster, comic strip and book characters have always found a way off of the 4 color page and into other forms of media. I think this fact above all is the reason for the survival of the comic book industry amid various scandals, witch hunts and periods of financial struggle it has seen over the last 80 or so years. The characters hold value even if some of the books they are featured in do not.
Hollywood and comics have always shared a symbiotic relationship. Some characters can seamlessly transition from the page to the radio to the big screen without pause, like Dick Tracy. Other times a character is created for the sole purpose of adding a story telling element to the TV show or movie that is not offered in the source material. The Batman family has most benefited from Tinsel-Towns contribution of characters.
If not for the Adam West Batman show (love it or hate it that show launched The Caped Crusader into the pop culture immortality!) we never would have received the “Girl Wonder”, Batgirl herself, Barbara Gordon. As the story goes, network execs were terrified that Bruce and Dick were being perceived as more than “chums”, so to quell the comments on their relationship status they brought in the Auburn haired angle Barbara Gordon. 50 years later Babs is still a pivotal part of the Bat-family and has been a part of some of Gotham City’s most important tales (see, Killing Joke).
You can add characters like Harley Quinn to the list of TV’s great contributions to comic book canon as well. Now while not all the media “crossovers” have ended well, I think we can all agree that every medium that touches comics and its characters benefit greatly. I love the fact that shows that may not have a big enough fan base to sustain a large budget TV show have been saved from the scrap heap and carried on in comics. Buffy, Angel, (just about every iteration of) Star Trek and Smallville are just a few of the shows given life after cancellation in print. More recently DC has been publishing a weekly digital release that acts as a companion to the freshman breakout hit Arrow.
But there is more that can be done! And this is what I see as the next step in the Print/Film relationship.
Network shows routinely run from September to May and then take a 2-3 month break in the summer. I would love to see more shows take to comics to act as a bridge in between seasons. Let’s get a miniseries of OGN (original graphic novel) that fleshes out the characters and back story in a way that TV just doesn’t have the time to do. You can beef up subplots and even lead in to next season! Obviously certain genre shows would get better results than others but this can work. I know that Once Upon a Time is doing an OGN to be released this fall that deals with backstory of a fallen character (The Huntsman), but I want a something that will bridge the gaps season to season! Give me a little inside info on what really went down in season 1 and a hit to what is to come in 2! It seems like a no brainer to me, but I’m only the guy who would gladly fork over my cash to have a more time with my favorite fictional people, my opinion doesn’t count.