Graphic novels are an interesting medium -- wedged between a standard novel and a comic book, they don’t quite fit in either category, but meld the two into one.
Even the term “graphic novel,” is a point of contention for some scholars. As comic book scholar and author Gene Kannenberg, Jr. told The Huffington Post, via email, the term graphic novel was “coined independently by Richard Kyle (in 1960’s) and by Will Eisner (in the 1970’s) [as] a long-form book in comics form which stood on its own literary and artistic merits, not on a franchised commodity. Those types of graphic novels are out there, but so are a lot of long superhero stories under the same banner.”
For Kannenberg, the term “is more of a marketing term than anything else.”
With the release of "The Dark Knight Rises" today, we decided to go the opposite route and research some graphic novels that don't encompass the larger franchised superhero comics and have been compelling enough to score a Hollywood script.
For example, many people would be surprised to learn that David Cronenberg’s “A History Of Violence” is actually an adaptation of the 1997 graphic novel of the same name by John Wagner and Vince Locke. Or that the 1994 Jim Carrey film, “The Mask,” is actually based upon a series of comic books published by Dark Horse Comics.
Check out our list of those and other notable-but-unexpected graphic novel adaptations in the slideshow below, and be sure to let us know what we missed in the comments.
The 2003 comedic drama starring Paul GIamatti and Hope Davis is actually adapted from a series of autobiographical comic books written by the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/12/harvey-pekar-dead-america_n_642955.html" target="_hplink">late Harvey Pekar</a> and illustrated by a variety of artists including legendary illustrator<a href="http://www.crumbproducts.com/" target="_hplink"> R. Crumb</a>. Pekar's work is considered groundbreaking for his portrayal of the more quotidian aspects of everyday life.
The 2001 comedic drama starring youngsters Thora Birch and Scarlett Johnasson as well as Steve Buscemi is based on the 1997 comic book written and illustrated by <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/16/dan-clowes-retrospective_n_1398101.html" target="_hplink">Daniel Clowes</a>. The comic book and film follows the lives of two best friends, Enid and Rebecca (both cynical social outcasts), who spark a friendship with a lonely older man after following a personal ad he published. The film does a tremendous job of highlighting the angst and confusion of teenage life amidst what comes off in the film as a suburban wasteland.
"A History Of Violence"
The 2005 thriller directed by David Cronenberg and written by Josh Olson, stars Viggo Mortensen, who in self-defense murders two robbers at his small town diner. The film is based upon the 1997 graphic novel, "<a href="http://www.amazon.com/A-History-Violence-John-Wagner/dp/1563893673" target="_hplink">A History Of Violence</a>," writen by John Wagner and illiustrated by Vince Locke.
The 2007 French/American film is the only animated film on our list and is based upon Iranian-French author <a href="http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2277869/" target="_hplink">Marjane Satrapi</a>'s autobiographical graphic novels, "<a href="http://www.amazon.com/Persepolis-Story-Childhood-Marjane-Satrapi/dp/037571457X" target="_hplink">Persepolis</a>" and "<a href="http://www.amazon.com/Persepolis-Story-Return-Marjane-Satrapi/dp/1435275632" target="_hplink">Persepolis 2</a>". The books and film follow the story of a young girl coming of age during the Iranian Revolution.
"<a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0109506/" target="_hplink">The Crow</a>" is adapted from the 1989 comic book series created by <a href="http://jamesobarr.typepad.com/my_weblog/" target="_hplink">James O'Barr</a>. In the series, a young couple is assaulted by a group of thugs who leave them for dead on the side of the road. The protagonist is resurrected by a crow and seeks vengeance on the murderers--stalking and killing them. Both the film and comic books have garnered a cult following.
The 2007 action film is actually based on the 1998 comic series by <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/13/frank-miller-occupy-wall-street_n_1090790.html" target="_hplink">Frank Miller</a>. In the books and film, King Leonidas and 300 men fight the Persians in a retelling (albeit fictionalized) of the battle of Thermopylae.
"Road To Perdition"
The 2002 film directed by Sam Mendes and starring Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, Jude Law, and Daniel Craig is actually based upon the 1998 graphic novel of the same name by <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/max-allan-collins/detective-fiction_b_1497636.html" target="_hplink">Max Allan Collins</a>.
"Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World"
The 2010 comedy starring Michael Cera is based upon the 2004-2010 graphic novel series by<a href="http://radiomaru.tumblr.com/" target="_hplink"> Bryan Lee O'Malley</a>, "<a href="http://www.scottpilgrim.com/" target="_hplink">Scott Pilgrim</a>." The adaptation of the series didn't stop at the film, there is actually a videogame, "<a href="http://www.ubi.com/us/games/info.aspx?pid=8847" target="_hplink">Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game</a>," that was released in 2010.
The classic 1994 Jim Carrey film, "The Mask," is actually based upon the Dark Horse Comics book series, "<a href="http://www.comicvine.com/the-mask/29-42252/issues-cover/" target="_hplink">The Mask</a>," that was created in 1982 and concluded in 2000. "The Mask" series actually found a new life in 2000, through DC Comics' "<a href="http://www.amazon.com/Joker-Mask-Henry-Gilroy/dp/1569715181" target="_hplink">Joker/Mask</a>" in which The Joker gets a hold of the mask.
"Oldboy," the 2003 South Korean film is actually partially based upon the 1996-1998 <a href="http://www.thespectrum.net/manga_scans/?preview=manga_Oldboy" target="_hplink">Japanese manga series written by Nobuaki Minegishi and Garon Tsuchiya</a>. In 2011, it was announced that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/11/spike-lee-to-direct-old-b_n_895079.html" target="_hplink">Spike Lee will direct an American remake</a> of the film.