Harry Potter and the Funnybook Frontier


Ain’t nothing like trying to jump on the bandwagon after the train’s left the station. Or something.

I was talking yesterday with Joe Gulick (the A-J’s assistant editor and a big comics fan) about the Harry Potter novels and movies. I’m not a big fan of them — I’ve read the first couple of books and saw the first movie, and they just didn’t light my fire. But Joe wondered why the Harry Potter books have never been adapted for comics.

Good question.

Comics adapting movies are a time-honored tradition. I remember as a kid picking up Marvel’s adaptation of the first “Star Wars” movie — and every time a new comic-based movie hits the big screens, you can bet that the comic adaptation is not far behind. Heck, Dark Horse Comics spent much of the ’90s releasing completely new stories based on movies like “Star Wars,” “Alien,” and “Predator.” And Disney has specialized for years at putting out comics that were better than the cartoons they were based on.

Books have been adapted into comics even more often — Marvel published comics based on the Anita Blake novels and Stephen King’s “Dark Tower” series, DC once published adaptations of Douglas Adams’ “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” novels, and Dark Horse plans to adapt Robert E. Howard’s novels about Puritan swordsman Solomon Kane. And who doesn’t remember reading those old “Classics Illustrated” comics? “Moby Dick” is more exciting with comics!

Okay, okay, anyway, the point is that this is the type of project that the comics companies should be falling over themselves trying to get. There’ve been Harry Potter books, Harry Potter movies, Harry Potter video games, Harry Potter toys, Harry Potter trading card games, Harry Potter candy, and more, and one would expect to see Harry Potter comics on the shelves, too. I can’t imagine a scenario where a Harry Potter comic book wouldn’t be a massive success. DC would seem to have the inside shot at any adaptations, since the movies were made by Warner Brothers, and Warner’s owns DC.

Joe and I pondered a couple of possibilities why there haven’t been any comics about the folks at Hogwart’s. First, it is possible that J.K. Rowling just really, really hates comics. That’s pure speculation on our part, and we have no way of knowing if it’s true. The other possibility is that Scholastic, the company that publishes the novels, holds the rights for all printed stories about Harry, which would include comics. Perhaps they aren’t willing to sell those rights, or perhaps they’re asking for more money than the comics companies can afford. Although, there have also been Harry Potter role-playing games and trading-card games, and I suspect that Marvel and DC each make more money than the pen-and-paper RPG industry makes in a year…

So what’s your theory? Will a Harry Potter comic series eventually be released, or is the entire concept doomed from the beginning?

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