What is the Value of the Twilight Comic Books?

16 Nov

By Comic Relief

If you are a fan of contemporary films, you are well aware of Summit Entertainment’s Twilight Saga or Twilight’s now four-film movie franchise?  If you are a fan of contemporary comics you were probably aware of two comics series dedicated to the film Twilight. Of course you may be asking what is the value of the Twilight comic books? At LIH we thought that was a curious question; so here is an attempt to answer that question?

Comics have been adapted from books, feature films, television shows, and even theatre. Properties can be adapted within media as well for instance producing animated series from live action movies.  Amongst other things, Marshall McCluan’s [1] axiom “the Medium is the Message” postulates that advertising for advertising sake promotes sales by means of media.  The logic of advertisers might conclude that advertising broadly is likely to enhance a product’s visibility and sales within the buying public.  Though one might believe that this is purely an attempt to cross-market a film, there are a few other substantial reasons to make a comic series from a narrative best known from another media.

1.      EXTEND THE NARRATIVE:

One reason to make a comic from a narrative best known in another media, is to extend the narrative. Meaning one can use this form of adaptation to add detail, story, and extra content to a narrative that is already familiar.

2.      COLLECT NEW READERS:

Another reason to adapt a film to a comic is to collect new readers who for whatever reason did not approach the product in its intended original medium.

3.      ADD SOMETHING THE ORIGINAL MEDIUM COULD NOT

Another reason is that new comic media may actually add something that the time based dramatic media could not.

In terms of extending the narrative, Gene Roddenberry’s television show “Star Trek” found a completely new life in paperback novels and comics soon after the show’s televised run ended.  With completely new stories characters and background information, George Lucas‘ “Star Wars” did the same. Actually these paperback novels, comics (and later conventions) honored or retold many of the distributed or broadcast original stories but the comics extended these universes far more than the these frequently discontinued series could have.  A more contemporary example of the cross-published phenomenon is the comics associated with Joss Whedon’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”. Other comic books distributed by the publisher “Dark Horse” [2] include “Star Wars”, “Star Trek” and “Aliens”.  Evidently to attract interest in these adaptations the product has to be a wildly popular series that can independently support their own sub culture.

Image from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” comic book

Image from “Aliens” comic book

Image from “Star Wars” comic book

Image from “Star Trek” comic book

Distributed outside of mainstream companies like Marvel or DC Comics, creator owned Mike Mignola’s Hellboy, distributed by Dark Horse supports an odd relationship.  Most of the unfinished film series, directed by Guillermo del Toro, doesn’t completely resemble the comic series. Never the less we can still be confident that the film series collects new readers for the comic expression of the character, rather than the other way around.  This is the most conventional relationship between comics to film characters, and says very little about how a comic adaptation can enhance an already established character.  Comic adaptations of the “Wizard of OZ”, “Rocky horror Picture Show” and “The Warriors”, buck a different trend.

Image from “The Wizard of Oz” comic book

Image from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” comic book

Image from “The Warriors” book

Currently written by Kevin Smith’s “The Bionic man” by Dynamite Entertainment [3] is based on the 1970’s television show “The Six Million dollar man”.  The reason for the name change may be telling in regard to the differences in how adaptations may differ from their source material.  It may reflect the fact that inflation has changed what six million dollars can buy today or because the old series is so ancient that starting from scratch with a new title seemed like a better option.  From the same publisher, the character “The Green Hornet” never really had an enormous comics following but audiences can fairly be sure this title was intended to gain viewership from the recent movie that was distributed this year.

There are actually two sets of comics that address the Twilight series, and each has a different goal.  Yen Press’ [4] Twilight is a retelling of 13 chapters of the first book of the series Twilight.  Covering many of the themes commonly associated with the romance of Bella Swan and her Vampire boyfriend Edward Cullen, Twilight is still sitting on comic book direct market shelves.  The second genre series is a product of Blue Water’s [5] FAME series and Female Force comics.  This series addressed what principle actors Robert Pattinson, Kristin Stewart, and Taylor Lautner, and the novelist of the franchise Stephanie Myers.  Biographical in tone, starting around President Barrack Obama’s post-election bid, the FAME series has been committed to documenting the appearance of popular celebrities.  From the same publisher and published around the same time, Female Force has a similar origin and content bias. Most well-known actors, politicians, and other celebrities who have made names for themselves in popular culture have probably had books dedicated to them.

Image from Twilight Graphic Novel

Page from the Twilight Graphic Novel

Though odd coincidences don’t end there, it may seem strange that Twilight comic book only addresses one book of a five movie series.  This may be a result of changing licensing or a result of changes in original contracts.  Since the series seems to be dedicated to the book and not summit’s dramatization of the series, one might do best to ask Stephanie Myers why this series never extended beyond the initial book.  New moon introduced a whole group of characters, some of which were only hinted at in Twilight.  The Quileute Indian tribe and the Volturi were only minimally introduced or were not suggested in the first book at all.  So anyone who thought this book could extend the narrative clearly will not be pleased.

Collecting new readers was unlikely because most Fanboys treated the series as though the series was poisonous or contained something that might hurt them.  Many comics reader are astute about the events of the literary world and seemed to want to reject a book that was so willing to challenge what they knew of the vampire genre.  Fan boys and girls are frequently are quite loyal to the source material they have read.

 Another odd aspect of this book was their choice of Illustration.  At first glance I couldn’t help but wonder why Manga (a stylized Japanese drawing or modeling style familiar in most Anime or animated features). With their typically tiny mouths, tiny yet pointed noses, and giant glassy eyes the style (an oddly stylized Caucasion face) is best for depicting young people but tends to fail when trying to distinguish adult vampires (like Esme and Carlyle Cullen) from the teen Cullen children. Though this stylizing trend was used as consistently as you are likely to see in other anime’, you might notice that the Cullen’s children did appear to have a dark area around the eyes distinguishing them from the other high school students.  Yet distinguishing any male or female character is almost impossible.

Image from FAME: Robert Pattison Comic book

Image from FAME: Kristin Stewart Comic book

Image from FAME: Taylor Lautner Comic book

Image from Female Force: Stephanie Meyers Comic book

Fortunately western and naturalistic in illustration style, the FAME and Female Force series concentrated on now popular notions of the actors and writer that probably do not diverge too widely from what you expect their publicists to say. Multi-talented Robert Pattinson is accomplished and ambitious, former child actor Kristin Stewart is awkward, passionate and edgy, former Child actor Taylor Lautner is athletic and wants to be a future action star… etc.  If one likes celebrity tabloid articles of the kind you may like the FAME series.  In terms of history comics haven’t done very much of this since the days of the Romance Comic Era.

Both Yen Presses’s Twilight series and Blue Water’s FAME and female force series are great historical markers for the tastes of film audiences in this early millennium film series.  A unique time in comics history, I doubt either series attracted any more attention to the series than it already had by way of the films and books.

Also see-Twilight:Virtue vs. Sexual Liberation

Please join us for a open discussion begining Wednesday, 11/16/2011 ending Friday, 11/18/2011.


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Referenced material:

1. http://individual.utoronto.ca/markfederman/article_mediumisthemessage.htm

2. http://www.darkhorse.com/

3. http://www.dynamite.net/htmlfiles/

4. http://www.yenpress.com/

5. http://graphicly.com/bluewater-productions

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23 Responses to “What is the Value of the Twilight Comic Books?”

  1. Littlebells November 16, 2011 at 8:17 PM #

    CR,

    I am always impressed with your research and knowledge on these topics. Fantastic article! My brain is still digesting it. Thank you!

    • comic relief November 17, 2011 at 12:44 PM #

      Thanks LB, if you have any questions let me know.

  2. comic relief November 17, 2011 at 1:39 PM #

    In case I made it sound like everything was pleasant in sci-fi ville, this video understates some of the on going hostility.

  3. Open Book November 17, 2011 at 7:08 PM #

    I’m really impressed CR! U have done such a great job illustrating what makes comic book readers embrace certain books versus others. It’s strange but seeing this analogy makes me look at the films from a different perspective. Of course u can pack much more content in a comic book than a film. However, the visual detail is an added bonus to the writing. Anyway, What comic book do u think does a good job supporting the film and vice versa?

    • Littlebells November 17, 2011 at 7:13 PM #

      Great question!

    • comic relief November 17, 2011 at 7:36 PM #

      OB,

      I agree LB, this is a great question yet comic creators work within parameters like everyone else. Artists and writers (along with inkers, colorists, editors, and graphic designers) all have a responsibility to work within set page limits.

      But to address the more dynamic part of your statement or question; the Star Trek and Star Wars comics really did an excellent job of supporting the television show and the movie franchises. In fact they did so well they helped spawn new movies and television shows, merchandizing etc.

      This is part of the reason I am so unimpressed with Stephanie Myers Twilight Graphic Novel. Yuck, to my taste it really sucks. Again why use manga????? She should have worked with the professionals of film and television adaptation from either Dark Horse or Dynamite entertainment. I don’t understand why but she really blew this aspect of keeping franchises alive and supporting committed fans.

  4. Littlebells November 17, 2011 at 7:10 PM #

    CR,

    Do we know how well the comic versions of Twilight are selling?

    • comic relief November 17, 2011 at 7:51 PM #

      LB,

      You know I don’t know what the Twilight Graphic Novel’s success rate was. But the performance did not look good. I had a copy in my hand from 2008, so they obviously did not sell out. But yes, these records are kept.

      Generally, I assumed that most of them were sold at Twilight conventions. Dark Horse or Dynamite Entertainment obviously would have used a campaign to get the comic community to embrace the series. But again Mrs. Myers did not do this. Instead she went to an Asian cultural distributor who likely did not know either the culture of patience’s of the Western comic world.

      Another fail of the part of Stephanie Myers is the graphic novel only addressed Twilight, and then dropped the ball of “New Moon”, “Eclipse” and “Breaking Dawn.” This is unbelievably wasteful when you think about the strategies for pulling along fans and keeping them immersed in the world of the franchise.

      • Littlebells November 17, 2011 at 8:19 PM #

        I did not know that! So no BD graphic novel of the honeymoon??? Oh no!!!! *snort* Although the birth scene could be very interesting…

  5. Littlebells November 17, 2011 at 7:14 PM #

    CR–knowing how popular fan fiction is among the Twilight Fans, how does an expanded version of the film in comic books differ from fan fic (given the authors of the fan fics maintain the supernatural and keep characters as they are)?

    • comic relief November 17, 2011 at 8:04 PM #

      LB,

      Ultimately I think fan fiction and this comics and paper back genre are very closely related. Fans of Star Wars and Trek franchises wrote many of their own stories about major and minor characters and series topics.

      Unfortunately most of the crazies were obsessed with Bella and Edward’s relationship. certainly fans could could continue to invest in that. But could you imagine Twilight stories that only starred Jacob and his struggles with pack leadership. What about a miniseries about the adventures of Emmet and Jasper. How about the love affair of Carlyle and Esme? Or a Forks night on the beat with Sheriff Charlie Swan?

      Encouraging this kind of creativity is really necessary to keep readers engaged in the franchises culture.

      • comic relief November 17, 2011 at 8:08 PM #

        It also keeps them buying and possibly keeps them invested should the studio want to extend the franchise.

        • Littlebells November 17, 2011 at 8:18 PM #

          No Summit, please don’t. WE’ve had enough.

          • comic relief November 17, 2011 at 8:38 PM #

            HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

            After our discussions I feel the same. Thank God for bad marketing.

      • Littlebells November 17, 2011 at 8:17 PM #

        yeah and most Twilight fan fic centers around B & E having sex. *rolls eyes*

        Honestly, I think a “night on the beat with Sheriff Charlie Swan” would be hilarious! hahahaha!!!! 🙂

        • comic relief November 18, 2011 at 1:22 PM #

          “Twilight fan fic centers around B & E having sex” now that’s just wrong: but who should be surprised given the source material.

          Here’s the score:
          Summit 4, Audience 0

  6. comic relief November 17, 2011 at 8:37 PM #

    Here’s more of what Bluewater’s Fame and Female Force inside and alternative covers look like.

    Fame ROBERT PATTINSON comic
    Alternative Cover:
    http://splashpage.mtv.com/2010/05/03/robert-pattinson-comic-book-preview/

    Fame TAYLOR LAUTNER comic
    Cover:
    Pages 1-4:
    http://www.comicbookresources.com/prev_img.php?pid=6125&pg=1

    • comic relief November 17, 2011 at 8:39 PM #

      I have to leave but will return later.

  7. Open Book November 18, 2011 at 1:24 PM #

    Looks like I missed an interesting discussion.

    Twilight fan fiction consist of Rob and Kristen more so than the characters they portray in the films. I think the marketing decision to have their personal life parallel the characters in Twilight has backfired on Summit & SM IMO.

    CR-How do u think this has impacted Summit or SM (for that matter) from being able to extend the story of Twilight in graphic novel format?

  8. comic relief November 18, 2011 at 7:56 PM #

    OB,
    I think Summit’s strategy to sell Robert Pattinson and Kristin Stewart’s romance really backfired badly. Summit seemed to want a reality show more than the narrative they had in Stephanie Meyer’s novels. Here’s some more comic story previews, yet notice how the actors and writer’s lives are being sold and (for the most part) not their characters.

    Book insides for Robert Pattison:
    http://www.eclipsemovie.org/mtv-exclusive-fame-robert-pattinson-comic-book-preview/

    Alternative cover designs and book insides for Kristin Stewart (potential reading challenge)
    http://www.kristenstewartfan.us/photos/thumbnails.php?album=851

    Book inside for Stephanie Meyers, select “click to LOOK INSIDE”
    http://www.amazon.com/Female-Force-Bestsellers-Stephenie-Meyer/dp/1427641846#_

  9. comic relief November 18, 2011 at 7:57 PM #

    All of the above examples are from the Bluewater comic label and all are so obsessed with the celebrity lives of the principle actors and novelist; one can’t help but assume that they are trying to hide something from audience members. This publicity strategy provoked distrust and skepticism from the buying public and look all of the horrible reviews for Breaking Dawn you see on Rotten Tomatoes. Despite what will likely be an impressive first week end, it’s as though critics go to Movie Theater wanting to trash the film. You would think that they thought a negative review was a requirement.

  10. comic relief November 18, 2011 at 7:58 PM #

    You would think Stephanie Meyers would be the most dedicated to her book’s characters, but as I said before, even she did a bad job of finding representation to present the Twilight narrative.

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