Small Screen Survivors: TV Shows That Lived On As Comics

<i>by <a href=>Graeme McMillan, Newsarama Contributor</a></i> <p>The news that IDW is bringing back <em>The X-Files</em> for a new series of comics set after the second movie was an unexpected treat for fans of the Fox series who had assumed that we'd never find out just how Mulder and Scully ended up fighting the future. <P>The notion of a comic book continuing a television series after it's been cancelled, however, is hardly a new one at this point as these 10 examples of four-color incarnations of TV favorites that outlived the originals demonstrates. <p><i>Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's <a href=><b>FACEBOOK</b></a> and <a href=><b>TWITTER</b></a>!</i> <p>


Admittedly, yes, few people would argue that <em>ALF</em> an NBC sitcom about an Alien Life Form (A.L.F., do you get it?) living with an all-American family in California was the sort of show that necessarily needed to live on past its 1990 final television episode. Nonetheless, the Marvel Comics series based on the show lasted fifty issues and almost two years after the show ended, with a final issue cover-dated Feb 1992 that saw the alien finally given a chance to return to Melmac.


Lucy Lawless' main claim to fame may have gone off the air in 2001, but <i>Chew</i>'s John Layman plus Fabiano Neves and Noah Salonga brought the Hercules' favorite warrior princess back to life in two miniseries for Dynamite Entertainment starting in 2006, leading into not one but <em>two</em> separate crossovers with another property from Sam Raimi, <em>Army of Darkness</em>. <p>Clearly, that was too much awesome for the world: Poor Xena hasn't been seen since.


Joss Whedon's dark science fiction series about programmable human beings may have only lasted two seasons on Fox, but it purposefully ended with an entire era that needed to be filled in namely, how did the characters get from the relatively upbeat final episodes in the contemporary time period to the dystopian future of the "Epitaph" episodes? <p>Luckily, Dark Horse had the chance to fill in some of those gaps with a one-shot released months after the final episode in 2010 that led into a 2011 mini-series, all written by writers from the show itself.


Another Whedon project that ended far before its time, <em>Firefly</em>'s comic book debut didn't come until Whedon resurrected the world for the spinoff <em>Serenity</em> movie, three years after the show itself had ended. <p>Unlike other attempts to continue the world beyond the confines of the television show, the <em>Serenity</em> comics had a more specific purpose: To bridge the show to the movie, as opposed to expand the continuity into an unexplored place (Although later stories suggested a move in that direction). <p>Perhaps one day, we'll get the open-ended continuation of that series that Browncoats across the world await... and, hopefully, with that, a resurrection for Wash. It <em>still hurts</em>, dammit.


One of the unexpected side-effects of the success of Syfy's <em>Battlestar Galactica</em> reboot in the last decade was the fact that it reignited interest in the original series for the first time in decades. Hence Dynamite Entertainment's multiple miniseries set in the universe of Glen A. Larson including a return to <em>Galactica 1980</em>, the little-remembered, little-respected sequel series to the original that brought the Galactica to Earth in the then-present day with all kinds of related hi-jinks. <p>Three decades may be a long time to wait for a follow-up, but now we know that we never have to say die...


Just because CBS didn't give the Skeet Ulrich series about a post-nuclear United States of America a third year on the air didn't mean that the show didn't get a third season it's just that that third season came in the form of a comic from Devil's Due (and later, IDW). <p>Sure, the <em>Jericho: Season 3</em> series didn't have a live action cast, but it did have the writers for the show and the kind of unlimited special effects budget that comic books can provide. Finding a receptive audience, the series had a <em>Season 4</em> premiere from IDW last year.


Considering the triumphant eight-year run for the Haliwell sisters (Holly Marie Combs, Alyssa Milano, Shannen Doherty and Rose McGowan) on television, it's not the biggest surprise that the supernatural WB series ended up continuing in comics. <p>What <em>is</em> surprising is that it took so long for it to happen. In 2010, four years after the show's grand finale, Zenescope took up the challenge, pairing one of their in-house writers with Paul Ruditis, who'd previously written spinoff novels from the show. The series lasted 24 issues, and took the scale of stories from the relative low-key of the San Francisco-based small screen series to a worldwide, epic scope.


Perhaps the modern master when it comes to continuing a television series in comic book form, Dark Horse's <em>Buffy Season 8</em> and current <em>Season 9</em> have demonstrated how best to and how <em>not</em> to, at times stay true to what made a great television show when reinvented the series for a whole new medium. <p>With series showrunner Joss Whedon serving a similar purpose for the comic book franchise, the results have been never less than interesting, even when things lost focus (Hello, the middle of <em>Season 8</em>), giving us a <em>Season 9</em> that is everything fans could have wanted from the television show and then some.


Even in <em>Doctor Who</em>'s darkest days that would be from 1989 through 2005, the period when the show wasn't on the air (with the exception of the Paul McGann failed pilot) the BBC's time-traveling do-gooder continued saving the universe and getting himself into (and out of) trouble thanks to the comic book stories that appeared in the pages of the ongoing <em>Doctor Who Magazine</em> in the U.K. <p>While the canonicity of those stories is open to question, as all such spin-offs generally are, there's absolutely no doubt that <em>DWM</em> and the comic strips within kept the fires of fandom burning for the show, and laid the groundwork for the show's revival in some small way, even if just by proving that there was still an audience out there for more <em>Who</em> in whatever format.


If there's one thing that can be said of <em>Star Trek</em>'s various comic book incarnations, it's that they have a tendency to take that thing about living long and prospering literally. Not only did DC's 1989 <em>Star Trek: The Next Generation</em> monthly comic outlive the television incarnation by two years, lasting until 1996, but Gold Key's comic book tie-in to the first series was still running a decade after the cancellation of the original NBC series. <P>Comic book spinoffs to both <em>Deep Space Nine</em> and <em>Voyager</em> appeared after both series' conclusion, as well. Sadly, no-one has ever published a comic book version of the franchise's prequel series <em>Enterprise</em>, because otherwise, we could still be reading the adventures of Jonathan Archer and crew to this day...!

Small Screen Survivors: TV Shows That Lived On As Comics

Date: 31 January 2013 Time: 08:34 PM ET