Sunday, January 08, 2006


The Sunday Comics

Comic book-to-film adaptations (and more recently, cartoon-to-film takes) are fairly common. Led by the superheroes, Spider-Man, Batman and Superman, comic book adaptations have been popping up on the big screen for some time (and will continue to do so this year, with the much anticipated Superman Returns). Feature film adaptations of comic strips (the type you see daily in newspapers, and in color on Sunday) however, are a bit rarer. A handful spring to mind. Many strips have found success as an animated TV series, but few have been selected for theatrical films. While best remembered for their holiday TV specials (A Charlie Brown Christmas, It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, etc) the Peanuts gang, created by Charles Schultz, did make it to the screen on a few occasions, beginning with 1969's A Boy Named Charlie Brown (which opened at Radio City Music Hall in NY) and followed by 1972's Snoopy Come Home (which introduced Woodstock), 1977's Race for Life Charlie Brown, and 1980's Bon Voyage Charlie Brown (and Don't Come Back). Al Capp's hillbilly strip "Li'l Abner" was adapted for the screen twice: first in 1940 and again in 1959, as a musical. The musical film Annie, which was adapted from the successful Broadway production (which, in turn, was based on Harold Gray's comic strip "Little Orphan Annie") made it to the screen in 1982, directed by John Huston (but it fell on deaf ears). The same was true for Brenda Starr, which starred Brooke Shields as the comic strip reporter. That film was made in 1986, but not released until 1992, when it quickly faded away. Faring slightly better in 1993 was the film version of Hank Ketcham's long-running strip "Dennis the Menace." The film was directed by Nick Castle of Halloween fame and written by John Hughes (who unfortunately mined his own garish Home Alone films for inspiration). Chester Gould's legendary comic strip detective Dick Tracy first made it to the big screen in 1945, but was given the big budget treatment by Warren Beatty in 1990’s Dick Tracy. Perhaps the most successful comic strip-to-film adaptation is that of "Blondie," the strip created by Chic Young, and named for the attractive, loving wife of Dagwood Bumstead. Blondie was embodied by actress Penny Singleton in 28 films (over 12 years), starting with Blondie in 1938 and ending with Beware of Blondie in 1950. Most recently, combining computer generated animation with live action, Jim Davis' lasagna-loving fat cat Garfield made his screen debut (and was voiced perfectly by Bill Murray) in Garfield: The Movie in 2004. My vote for the next live action big screen adaptation of a strip?: Lynn Johnston’s brilliant and honest multi-generational portrait of the Patterson family, “For Better or For Worse.”

"Cathy" the comic strip about a single working woman would be a great sit com. It's been a while since I have seen a "Cathy" but I believe she had a pretty droll sense of humor and murphy's law was pretty much her guiding force. I think Sara Rue from the TV show "Less than Perfect" would be perfect!
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