The Fact That Jeff Lemire’s Underwater Welder Will Be A Film Feels Like A Victory For Comics

by Staff

 

During Emerald City Comic Con this past weekend, Top Shelf/IDW announced that Jeff Lemire’s critically acclaimed, emotionally gripping, and somewhat surreal graphic novel Underwater Welder would be made into a feature film.

A number of producer roles were also announced, notably Ryan Gosling, Ken Kao, and Anonymous Content as outside producers and Jeff Lemire, Chris Staros (Editor–in–Chief, Top Shelf), and Ted Adams (CEO and Publisher, IDW Publishing) will be executive producers.

Though it may not feel like a huge surprise that something created by Jeff Lemire should be made into a film–his series with Scott Snyder from Image, A.D. After Death, has been optioned too–it does feel like a strange victory for comics. Here is a book that’s not drawn in a hyperbolic superhero style (not that there’s anything wrong with that but it’s nice that not all comics are), tells a very personal and disturbing story, and is even told in black and white rather than full color. When graphic novels with these qualities actually become adapted to the big screen, it feels like a victory for comics. That’s not to say in the least that the goal of comics is to somehow transcend the medium and rise in a superior version in film.

We all know that the differences between the two forms of media are vast and assuming adaptation from one to the other is possible, or even a good idea, can be a big mistake. Nevertheless, in the same way that major literary novels are often adapted to film, revealing how universal and significant their stories are in any format, when graphic novels that are far from mainstream in their style and content get picked up for film treatment, it means that Hollywood might actually be looking at STORY and seeing the strength of the composition rather than what action sequences will make money at the box office.

So, a victory for comics? I’d say so. As comics in the USA grow to encompass a wider and wider range of genres, hopefully we’ll see even more variety in the kinds of comics that might become adapted into other media like film.

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