Ghost World (2001): As superheroes and other unlikely types have dominated comics, so have movies based on comics largely been dominated by men dressed as bats, antiheroes with ink blots on their masks and uzi-wielding prostitutes. But this world is also populated by snarky, cynical teenage girls languishing in post-high-school malaise. Already responsible for the documentary Crumb, Terry Zwigoff tackled Daniel Clowes’ series on same, and memorably depicted the destruction of two friendships, coaxing career-best turns from Thora Birch and Scarlett Johansson (and arguably Steve Buscemi). Five years later, Zwigoff returned to Clowes, but the result was the curdled Art School Confidential.
From Hell (2001): Alan Moore’s pugilistic relationship with Hollywood is well-documented, and it officially began souring when the Hughes Brothers (Menace II Society) made mincemeat out of his obsessively researched examination of Victorian England through the prism of Jack the Ripper. Granted, it wasn’t until after another disgrace (The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) that he wouldn’t allow his name on films of his work, nor accept payment.
American Splendor (2003): Pissy Harvey Pekar was a natural for movies—especially when embodied by Paul Giamatti—but this is all a bit middlebrow, is it not?
A History of Violence (2005): It has gangsters and crushed heads and, well, violence, but David Cronenberg’s take on John Wagner’s comic is stubbornly thoughtful first, pulp a distant second. Cronenberg didn’t even read the damn thing till after filming wrapped.
Persepolis (2007): The greatest hits of Marjane Satrapi’s stark, mordant memoirs of life in and out of Iran. It’s fine, but is the comic broke?
Tamara Drewe (2010): Well, this is a first—a (mostly) realistic daily comic made into a (mostly) realistic movie. Posy Simmond’s source, which ran from ’05 to ’07, becomes a bubbly Stephen Frears farce, an excuse to give work to Christopher Hitchens doppelganger Roger Allam and Black Books’ Tamsin Greig.
Six Long-Running Film Franchises