You’re so vain, you probably think this Dick is about you.

§ March 29th, 2024 § Filed under publishing § 8 Comments

You all left a lot of great responses to Wednesday’s post about comic book adaptations of movies and TV shows, and they deserve responses from me…but I’m going to just do a couple today and I’ll get to more next week.

First off, Adam Farrar leans in close to say

“My favorite comic adaptation are the three issues of Dick Tracy by Kyle Baker and John Moore. The third issue is a adaptation of the movie but the first two issues are essentially prequels establishing the backstories of the main characters in the movie. I only had the third issue for many years and loved it. Getting the first two issues years later was a revelation.”

Oooooh, those are good’uns:

It was as Adam said…two “prequel” issues with an adaptation of the film in the final installment. They were available in a deluxe squarebound format and a staplebound “newsstand” format, but either version was nicely printed, showcasing Kyle Baker’s beautiful art. If I recall interviews with Mr. Baker correctly, the art initially featured a more-faithful-to-the-strips Tracy, but someone higher up, I can’t imagine who, wanted Warren Beatty’s likeness inserted in there instead. It all looks great anyway, even if that unnecessary change dates it a bit, which I emphasise is not Baker’s fault.

There is a trade paperback collecting the series out there, long out of print like the comics of course. But I think the comics should be relatively easy enough to find. And you should find them.

Next up is Snark Shark, who toothily reminds me

“Someone (I think DC?) did an adaptation of the FIRST [Bill and Ted] movie, and it was as bland as possible.”

And yes indeedy, in 1989 there was this oddball thingie:

Titled Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure Movie Adaptaion, it was a 36-page mostly-adless retelling of the film, adapted by Bob Rozakis and MAD‘s Angelo Torres. According to the Grand Comics Database, it was a cereal giveaway, though I always assumed it was distributed in video stores. (I got my copy in a dollar box somewhere.)

It’s funny this came up as I was talking to my pal Brook (the same Brook who inspired me to buy this and these) about this very comic book, as he’s a big fan of Mr. Torres (and also owns some art from one of his MAD paperbacks). I’ve been wanting to find my copy of this in my currently-in-disarray vast Mikester comic archives so Brook can check it out.

Now I was going to counter Mr. Shark’s dismissal of the comic, but it turns out I talked about this comic way back in 2005, when there was still joy and hope in the world, but it looks like I kinda agree with him. To wit, here’s what slightly-less-old me had to say:

“…It’s a straightforward adaptation of the first film. It hits all the beats of the movie, but doesn’t really add anything to the material…of course, it really suffers in comparison to Dorkin’s fabulously-nutty adaptation of Bogus Journey. In addition, the art seems scratchy and rushed…Torres’ caricatures are usually right on, but as a whole the production seems very rough.”

In retrospect, it’s very possible this was a rush job, crankin’ out these pages in time to meet a rapidly-closing deadline, so maybe there’s that. But yeah, it’s a little lackluster, but given it was distributed as a cereal box mail-away premium, this wasn’t the place for edgy or challenging art. The wraparound cover based on the movie’s one-sheet is good, though.

Thanks for reading, pals, and we’ll get to more movie comics next time!

8 Responses to “You’re so vain, you probably think this Dick is about you.”

  • Dave says:

    If I remember correctly, Warren Beatty approved only one or two likenesses for that Dick Tracy book, so Baker took the opportunity to put the character in the most awkward possible poses to point out the limitations.

  • Nicholas says:

    One adaptation I haven’t seen mentioned yet is the Roy Thomas/Mike Mignola Dracula mini-series, published by Topps! I’m re-reading it now, and while the movie it’s based on is…just ok, the comic is gorgeous. I remember *hating* Mignola’s stuff as a kid (I was furious when X-Force #8 came out and he filled-in in place of Rob Liefeld) but when Dracula came out a few months later, he finally clicked for me.

  • Thom H. says:

    Kyle Baker is the best. Anything he produced around that time is comics gold. Obligatory sad comment here about the unfinished Helfer/Baker run on The Shadow.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    It really seems like a missed opportunity on both Warner Brothers and Disney’s part not to do more comic book film adaptations. Heck, if they used quality artists I’d love to see DC/Warner Bros. adapt some of their classic films as Black Label-esque graphic novels. Imagine Steranko adapting “The Maltese Falcon,” “Casablanca” “To Have and Have Not,” “The Big Sleep,”or other Bogart films.

    Or how about Adam Hughes adapting “How To Marry a Millionaire,” or “Some Like It Hot”? I’d also dig adaptations of “Rebel Without a Cause,” “Bonnie and Clyde” –Kyle Baker could draw Warren Beatty again, “Easy Rider”…so many iconic films it would be cool to see adapted to comics.

    Also, it would be awesome to see every episode of the original Twilight Zone series meticulously adapted to black and white comics by top tier illustrative artists like Steranko, Mark Schultz, Jerry Ordway, Tim Vigil, Bill Sienkiewicz, P. Craig Russell, etc.

    Also, regarding Marvel’s film adaptations, as a kid, I enjoyed Marvel’s version of one of my favorite
    films: “The Golden Voyage of Sinbad.” I think it was in a few issues of Marvel Spotlight. Also, a shout-out to George Perez and Klaus Janson’s artwork on the “Logan’s Run” comic title’s film adaptation.

  • Adam Farrar says:

    That’s right Dave. There are lots of panels with odd framing so we don’t see Tracy’s face. But it’s done well enough that it’s not obvious.
    I forgot to mention that John Moore wrote the “prequel” issues but Len Wein wrote the adaptation issue.

  • Oliver says:

    Why did DC Comics get to publish an adaptation of the first James Bond movie, only to never do any more? What was that all about?!

  • Tom W says:

    Off topic, but anyone who loved the unfinished Helfer-Baker Shadow should check out the Helfer-Baker Justice Inc, with fantastic pastel art. Or it could even be chalk. Never seen anything like it before or since…

  • Snark Shark says:

    “this oddball thingie”

    Huh! I was right about it being DC! And I remember there being no cover price, which was odd. Got it cheap.

    “a cereal giveaway”


    ” the art seems scratchy and rushed”

    Yes, that! It looked rushed and cheap. Imagine taking something with George Carlin in it and making it BLAND.

    “Mr. Torres”

    I’m surprised that IS Torres! He certainly did decent work for MAD.
    Dorkin actually knew what he was doing! he made the Marvel series FUN.

    “Dracula mini-series”

    Art was great! Story did little for me. Much like the movie- it was great LOOKING, but dry story-wise.

    “Why did DC Comics get to publish an adaptation of the first James Bond movie, only to never do any more?”

    Dunno. Maybe it was seen as too mature of a movie series to do more comics of, or maybe it just didn’t sell well enough.

    Marvel did “For Your Eyes Only” in the 80’s. MY GAWD I LOVE THAT THEME SONG!!!