Sunday, 29 August 2010


I'm a writer. No, really, it's true. I write stuff all the time. I wrote this blog you're reading right now. Sure, I'm not getting paid to be a writer at the moment, but that doesn't make me not a writer.

As many writers tend to, I have a number of projects on the go right now, all at varying stages of development. Most of these are my own original works, featuring characters and situations entirely created by me. One of them though, and arguably the one which is closest to actually being out there in the public eye, wasn't my idea.

Stiffs, the comic I've co-written with Drew Davies and Joe Glass, was actually Drew's idea originally. Sure, both Joe and I helped develop the world, created characters and came up with storylines for it, but at the end of the day, the original premise was entirely Drew, as was the character who is definitely going to steal the whole thing. I love writing for Stiffs. I love the characters, I love what we do with them and I love the ideas we've had for their futures. Of all the things I'm working on at the moment, Stiffs is one of my favourites.

I know there are some writers out there who struggle to work on something which was created by someone else, but I'm clearly not one of them. I enjoy creating scenarios for existing characters as much as I enjoy creating my own. I've got ideas for stories featuring, among others, the X-Men, the Hulk, Doctor Who, Death's Head, Buffy, James Bond and the crew of the Starship Enterprise. I also have ideas for some much older, classic characters like Frankenstein's Creature, King Arthur, Captain Nemo, and wait until you see my King Kong vs Hercules idea. Will I ever get to tell these stories? I don't know. I hope so, in some cases, it's unlikely in others, but I'll only do them if I can do them properly. Simply writing fan fiction and posting it on the internet doesn't interest me. I want to actually tell my X-Men in the pages of Uncanny X-Men, or a mini series, or... well, as long as it's published by Marvel, I don't really mind.

The point is, I have these stories in mind for these characters, and would be only too happy to tell them if given the opportunity. But one thing I always said I'd probably never attempt was doing an adaptation. Sure, I'll write a Hulk story, but I won't take an existing Hulk story and try and tell it using another medium.

My main reason for this is simply because I thought that adapting something successfully would be much harder than creating something, and I didn't feel like I was up to the challenge. However, in the last few years, my attitude has changed a little. I still think a successful adaptation is something that I would struggle with for the most part, but there a few stories out there that I've looked at, and it suddenly hit me how it could be done.

This blog isn't intended as a post saying "one day, I will definitely do these", rather, it's more a wishlist of the things I'd like to take a crack at if the opportunity ever arose. With that in mind, here's six adaptations I'd gladly do in a heartbeat.

1. Spider-Man

(Please note, if you've never read Kraven's Last Hunt, then this section will contain spoilers and you may want to skip to number two on the list)

Yep, I wanna write a Spider-Man movie. I don't want to do the first one. Or even the second one. No, I want to write the third or fourth movie. And when I do so, I want to adapt one very specific storyline from the comics. Published in 1987, written by J.M. DeMatteis with art by Mike Zeck, Kraven's Last Hunt ran through six issues of Spider-Man's three monthly comics at the time (Amazing Spider-Man, Spectacular Spider-Man and Web of Spider-Man). It took a previously B-list and, up to that point, pretty rubbish villain and had him do the unthinkable: He beat Spider-Man.

Kraven the Hunter was a Stan Lee / Steve Ditko creation who first appeared in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man #15 in 1964. A big game hunter who decided that beating Spider-Man would make him the best hunter in the world, Kraven repeatedly clashed with the wall-crawler, coming off second best each and every time. He soon became a bit of a joke, never challenging Spider-Man in the same way that bad guys like the Green Goblin or Doctor Octopus could.

Until Kraven's Last Hunt. DeMatteis wrote a dark, harrowing tale of a Kraven driven almost to the brink of insanity by his obsession. Realising that the only way to best the Spider is to become the Spider, Kraven does exactly that. He shoots Spider-Man, and buries him in the grounds of his estate. He then dons his own Spider-Man costume and roams New York, violently attacking criminals and capturing Vermin, a twisted killer that Spider-Man himself was unable to take down. Spidey, having only been tranquilised by Kraven, eventually crawls out of his grave to find that Kraven has Vermin trapped in his mansion. Kraven explains that he didn't kill Spidey, as if he had done so, how would Spider-Man know that he was beaten? Kraven has won, proving himself better than Spider-Man, and that is enough for him. He lets Vermin go, forcing Spidey to give chase. Having realised his lifes ambition, Kraven commits suicide.

Personally, I would love to see this story as a film. It would be a total contrast to any Spider-Man which has come before, and would give us a film where the hero actually loses. How often does that happen? To adapt it would require very little in the way of change. You'd have to introduce Vermin as a new character (he'd previously fought Spider-Man and Captain America together), and you would also need Kraven to appear as a minor bad guy in the movie or two before it, but other than that, this one can survive pretty much intact. Chances are, this one will end up happening one day with or without me, but I'd love to give it a go.

2. Street Fighter

Okay, I've covered this a couple of times before, so I'll try and be brief, but suffice to say, I don't understand why there hasn't been a good live action Street Fighter movie. It should be easy to adapt, and I'd love to try. An international fighting tournament is held. The sponsor, one M. Bison, has sinister motives. And now, some cracking fight scenes. Why is that so difficult?

But I've discussed this enough in the past, so lets move on.

3. Dracula

Alright, this one's been done, and a fair few times, but while there have been some very good adaptations of Dracula (as well as some piss poor ones), most of them have made major changes to the source novel. F.W. Murnau's silent classic, Nosferatu, was the first film to adapt Bram Stoker's novel, and is arguably the most faithful, despite the copyright avoiding name changes. However, it also relocates the action from London to Germany, cuts out many of the characters and gives the Count a completely different death scene.

Other versions worth watching are 1931's Dracula, starring Bela Lugosi, 1958's Horror of Dracula, featuring Christopher Lee and, to a certain extent, the 1979 Dracula starring Frank Langella. While all of these films have something in them to recommend, they all diverge from the novel in a number of major ways.

In this writer's opinion though, one of the biggest crimes came with Bram Stoker's Dracula in 1992. Fancis Ford Coppola promised us the closest version to the original novel yet, but it was anything but. While certainly a very interesting film from a visual perspective, it grafted on an utterly pointless storyline about Mina being the Count's resurrected wife, and couldn't seem to decide if it wanted Dracula to be a reprehensible monster or a sympathetic, misunderstood villain. It just didn't work. It also asked Keanu Reeves to put on an English accent. Bad, bad idea.

So, while I think there have been some very good films based on the story of Count Dracula, I also think we're still waiting for one which puts the novel firmly on screen, and I'd love to have a go. I may find it doesn't work, which is why it hasn't been done yet, but that doesn't mean I can't try. My starting point? Well, after reading the novel again a few times, I'd look at the Marvel Comics adaptation. Written by Roy Thomas with art by Dick Giordano, it is the novel in comics form. You won't find a more faithful adaptation anywhere, so it'd be a good start.

4. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

Of everything on this list, this novel by Michael Chabon would be the hardest to adapt. It's a favourite of mine, about the lives of two cousins who create a comic about a superhero, the Escapist. Covering roughly thirty years of their lives, it's a long book, and a lot would have to be cut to make it into a film. To be honest, I'm not sure where I would start with this one. In fact, it's one of the few things I'd like to adapt without having any plan in place before starting. All I know is, it's a wonderful read, and I would love to give it a shot if the opportunity ever arose. The real question would be, who to get to play the young Stan Lee, who appears in a scene towards the end of the book? Maybe he should just play himself.

5. The Call of Cthulu

The Call of Cthulu was written by H.P. Lovecraft back in 1926, but has only been adapted to film once, as far as I'm aware, in a silent film in 2005 done in the style of films from the 1920's. I've not seen this version, but regardless, I'd love a crack at Cthulu myself. The problem is, the original story is only a short, and in order to make a film, there would have to be padding. This is the one on the list I'd probably take the most liberties with. The short story would mostly survive intact, but my idea would be to throw in other stories from Lovecraft's Cthulu mythos (Dagon, for example, would make an excellent prologue), and bring them together with a plot which culminates in a trip to R'lyeh and an encounter with Cthulu himself. I'd keep the 1920's setting, but make the main character a detective, who is pulled into the world of Cthulu and his followers during a case he takes on. Think a noir mystery combined with a creepy, otherworldly horror, and you get an idea of what I'd be going for. This one would probably have to be co-written with someone else, namely Drew, since, much as I love Lovecraft, Drew's read more and knows it better than I do. So, Drew, you game?

6. Stiffs

Yes, I want to be involved in the movie adaptation of our own comic. Someone's gotta make sure they get it right!

So, there you have it. The properties I'd love to have a go at adapting. Will I ever get the chance? Well, Call of Cthulu and Dracula are in the public domain, so there's nothing to stop me writing those two then trying to sell the screenplays... Wait, why the hell aren't I doing that instead of faffing around with this blog? Fuck this, I'm off to write Call of Draculu! No, wait...

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