Introducing Adaptive Panels

First things first, what is Adaptive Panels?

Adaptive Panels is the new feature that I will be writing for Bearsleuth. It will be updating, provisionally, every week, with new articles going up every Saturday starting next week. This is a project I’ve had on my mind for a while, and I’m really excited to share it with our readers. Hopefully, it won’t disappoint.

What is it about?

I’m going to assume that everyone already reading this is aware of the conquest of popular culture by comic book properties in the last few decades. What started as a couple of really big, really surprising hits at the box office back in the 70’s and 80’s, and now turned into a seemingly unstoppable tidal wave of box-office dominating juggernauts. Not only that, but in both film and TV, we’re now seeing a lot of fringe properties, with minimal clout when compared to the household names of the Marvel and DC character rosters, being given their chance to shine, some of them very successfully. This rise to prominence really would have been just a pipe dream little more than a decade ago, and while there will always be a few stinking apples in the crop, I happen to think the whole thing is bloody brilliant (not least because it has made lore/continuity obsessed man-children like myself somewhat marketable).

So yeah, you don’t need me to tell you (despite having just done so, sorry) about the meteoric rise of comic-book characters in mainstream pop-culture. HOWEVER, the adaptation market cuts both ways, and when properties from cinema, TV, games, and whatever else have been adapted into graphic-novel form, they have traditionally received a lot less attention, which I think is a real shame.

What will I be covering?

So, in Adaptive Panels I will be critiquing a new comic book every issue, each part of expanded universes that began their life outside the medium. Some I will already be very familiar with, others less so. I’m going to start with the books continuing the story of the beloved Nickelodeon cartoon Avatar: The Last Airbender (Spoiler Alert: I REALLY like Avatar: The Last Airbender). From then on, I haven’t quite made up my mind. Perhaps I’ll open the floor to suggestions from readers. You know, once I’ve checked that I can actually do that…

What do I hope to accomplish?

Now, I’m not sure I’d call Adaptive Panels a series of ‘reviews’. I won’t be giving any of the books I look at a score, and will try to stay away as much as possible from making consumer recommendations (why would I waste time writing about something I didn’t think was worthwhile, after all). Rather, what I want to focus on is how these comics fit in to the universes they belong to. Are the worlds and characters represented faithfully? Do the comics answer questions/tie up loose ends from the original show/movie etc? And, perhaps most importantly, do they take the original ideas to new and interesting places? Say you’ve never picked up a comic book in your life before (I hadn’t, until relatively recently), but you’re really into Avatar, or Firefly, or Star Wars? Perhaps hearing that there are stories in comic-book form that expand on your favourite fantasies might persuade you to pop your cherry, so to speak, and maybe even provide an entry point for a much deeper exploration of the hobby. That’s a big part of what I want to do as a writer; to further overlap our Venn diagram of collective geek experience, and bring us all closer together as fans.

Right, that’s all I can really say without getting into spoilers for next week (oh that’s another thing; there will be many, many spoilers involved in Adaptive Panels, so be warned). I hope this concept sounds as interesting to all of you as it is to me, and that you’ll all join me back here to look at Avatar: The Promise.

…That was this week’s Adaptive Panels!!! Check back tomorrow for the second part of the BearSleuth British Comic book Industry Spotlight with Lee Sullivan!!!

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