Everything You Need to Know About Adapting Comic Books for TV

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The Writers’ Room Goes Behind the Scenes With Comic Book Adaptations
by Michael Schneider

Zombies have treated the brains behind AMC’s The Walking Dead very well. But Robert Kirkman, who originated the comic book series that inspired the show, admits the early days of his career were slower than, well, the undead. “You have to be crazy to get into [writing],” Kirkman tells SundanceTV’s The Writers’ Room, which digs into the art of creating some of TV’s biggest series. “I went massively into debt.”mag-writers-room1

On April 25’s special comic book-themed episode, Kirkman recounts some of the obstacles he faced in getting the TV adaptation of The Walking Dead made. That includes the NBC development executive who gave Kirkman a disheartening note: “I love this, but does it have to have zombies in it?”

Also in this episode, Smallville creators Al Gough and Miles Millar discuss how they fought the odds to get their show on the air in 2001 — back when comic book adaptations weren’t in vogue. “Pre-9/11, the reaction was negative,” Millar says of his series. “But after that, people were ready for a hero.”

Smallville aired at a time before social media, streaming and time-shifting changed the way viewers experienced television. Kirkman admits it’s tough now to ignore all that chatter, but in the end, “we only try to satisfy ourselves. That’s the big truth.”

In Season 2, The Writers’ Room also features the writers, executive producers and stars ofScandalHouse of CardsThe Good WifeSons of Anarchy and Pretty Little LiarsJim Rash, who plays the naive Dean Pelton on NBC’s Community, returns as host.

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Love & Money Dept – TV Writing Deals for 5/23/13

Latest News About Writers Who Are Doing Better Than We Are

  • Time to put your hat in the ring, gaming fans, at least if you want to write the live-action TV series version of XBox game HALO. Some newbie name of Steven Spielberg is producing. (Don’t just sit there, bake the dood a cake, send him a stripper. something!)
  • Mike Gagerman & Andrew Waller (they teamed up on upcoming feature ROAD TO NARDO) are writing a pilot for FX that will star Ray William Johnson, host of the snarky YouTube series #3. (Whoa, does this mean that if your name is now known – for anything – you’re not only automatically qualified to write, you’re also qualified to star? The times are a ‘changin’ after all.)
  • Lee Eisenberg & Gene Stupnitsky (THE OFFICE) have made an overall deal with ABC Studios, where they’ll be running two new shows, TROPHY WIFE and HELLO LADIES. (As fans of THE OFFICE, we think this is terrific…but what do we know?)
  • Jon Vitti (KING OF THE HILL) is moving to feature films and writing the screenplay for – get ready – the 3D film version of ANGRY BIRDS.  (We’d really like to find a way to snark the hell out of this, but just the fact that it’s happening lends a whole new depth to the meaning of the S word all by itself.)
  • Miles Millar & Alfred Gough (SMALLVILLE) just settled their $100 million lawsuit against Warner Bros Television, only a couple of weeks before it was due to go to trial. The claim was that Warner’s made sweetheart deals with itself for various ancillary licenses resulting in the two writers ending up with a much smaller piece of the pie than they were due. (Since we’ve never heard of that not happening, we’re hopeful that Millar & Gough scored huge.)
  • Peter Ocko (FAIRLY LEGAL) has written the comedy pilot, DIVIDE & CONQUER, for USA. (Because this is TV, where nothing succeeds like failure. Let that be a lesson, kids!)