Short and/or One volume Graphic Novel Movie Adaptations?
January 7, 2021 2:37 PM   Subscribe

I am teaching a short 5 week course on storytelling in different mediums and am using Adaptations as the tool. I've been having a lot of trouble finding graphic novels I can assign my kids to read within an hour or so. I originally was going to do "Road to Perdition" but found that I was already showing a movie with Tom Hanks in it and it just seems like I really love Tom Hanks and I wanna show something different, but still good. What are some short and/or single volume graphic novels that are good and also have a decent movie adaptation? That a 14-18 year old could read in a couple hours? I'm only looking for movie adaptations because I don't have time to show an entire TV show. Thank you!
posted by midnightyen to Media & Arts (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
posted by Aznable at 3:03 PM on January 7 [9 favorites]

I Kill Giants
posted by gideonfrog at 3:31 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]

Is a subtitled movie out of the question? If so, then We Are the Best based on Never Goodnight but the movie is in Swedish. (The graphic novel is available in English.)

I will second I Kill Giants -- while I didn't think it was a great movie, it's at least age-appropriate. The problem I'm running into is most movies that I can think of are either non-English or inappropriate (or in a lot cases, both).
posted by edencosmic at 3:37 PM on January 7

Cowboys vs Aliens-the graphic novel came AFTER the movie script was pitched and failed, then the script was turned into an OGN, and then they made a movie. Bulletproof Monk has a similar story.

Nausicaa and Akira come to mind in the manga/anime space, especially considering both movies are essentially based on the first volume of a multi-volume manga.
posted by sleeping bear at 3:50 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]

I like Persepolis a lot and would like to second the recommendation, but please be aware the movie uses material from both the first and second volume. I have had students just read the first volume and shown the film, and it was fine, but just a heads up.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 3:52 PM on January 7

I can think of a few TV shows where the first episode and the first volume of the comic match up perfectly. A lot of them are quite violent, though. If you don't mind kids' stuff, Hilda and the Troll, the Netflix show, is like that, and is charming.
posted by gideonfrog at 3:53 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]

A Wrinkle in Time has a pretty good graphic novel adaptation....
posted by nkknkk at 3:56 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]

not age appropriate is a huge list from Tank Girl to Watchmen to Atomic Blonde...that part is easy! Age appropriate, the animated Batman movies are mostly based on single graphic novels or story arcs, and are a great example of animation really expanding the storytelling.

V for Vendetta? Monkeybone?
posted by th3ph17 at 4:04 PM on January 7

Just looking at Dark Horse Comics alone, you could probably get away with The Mask, or Mystery Men, or maybe Hellboy. (Sin City is, of course, right out)

American Splendor is the outlier, where any of a number of volumes of the ongoing series could be the basis for the all-encompassing documentary.

RED is an odd one where the movie is much, much less disturbing than the incredibly violent book. The film is probably safe for kids, but the GN is just too bloody in my opinion.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 4:30 PM on January 7

The Breadwinner. Novel to graphic novel to animated film.
posted by betweenthebars at 4:30 PM on January 7

DC: The New Frontier is awesome in both the original comic and movie forms (Justice League: The New Frontier).

I think both the Watchmen and V for Vendetta films are good examples of being faithful to the source material in a lot of ways while also totally missing the point.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 5:25 PM on January 7

Pondering this a bit more ...

I left this out of my first answer because I don't feel like the movie has aged particularly well in a lot of ways (and it's slightly on the edge of age-appropriateness for the younger ones) but ... Ghost World would be an interesting discussion about what's in the book and what's on screen.

Also, maybe not exactly what you're going for, but the Scott Pilgrim movie but then just have them read the last volume of the series (you'd need to watch the movie first, although the movie's ending was written before the series' ending, or while the series' ending was being written). And really, that's my recommendation for reading Scott Pilgrim -- see the movie then just read the last book.

(I have to put My Friend Dahmer out there but that might be a difficult sell.)

I've asked my boyfriend about this (he owns a comic shop) and it's a tough one! This age range can be a wide spread when it comes to maturity (plus, I imagine you have parents' opinions to consider).
posted by edencosmic at 6:14 PM on January 7

Old Guard (2020)

V for Vendetta

If Anime is possible:
Ghost in the Shell
posted by nickggully at 6:47 PM on January 7

There are graphic novel adaptations of to kill a mockingbird, coraline, the diary of Anne frank and the handmaid's tale
posted by brujita at 3:36 AM on January 8

It’s been a long time since I’ve read it or watched it, so I can’t recall if there are non-age-appropriate bits that I’ve forgotten, but Ghost World?
posted by fabius at 5:56 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]

Road to Perdition starring Tom hanks was based on a graphic novel - it's 304 pages, so might be longer than you're looking for but it's one of those adaptations where a lot of people know the film, but didn't' know it was originally a comic
posted by Faintdreams at 6:43 AM on January 8

Also there is a well regarded adaptation of the Hobbit in Graphic novel form - the whole text is available on
posted by Faintdreams at 6:48 AM on January 8

How about The Death of Stalin? Comic with live action film adaption.

I'd also recommend In This Corner of the World. Both the book and film are excellent, and the film is a very faithful adaption (animated). The book is not short, but it's a single volume (450 pages), probably a 2-3 hour read.

The manga All You Need Is Kill was adapted into the film Edge of Tomorrow with Tom Cruise. It's not bad. Quite a long book, but as is typical for this genre, a fast read.

You'll find more suggestions in this list on Letterboxd. From those, avoiding superhero comics, I'd suggest Polina. I'd also suggest Snowpiercer, but that's more than one volume.
posted by snarfois at 8:27 AM on January 8

I really liked The Old Guard. The movie is based only on the first volume, though I'm hoping they make a sequel (whether or not it's similar to the second volume, which I'm also hoping they make a sequel for). I watched the movie recently with my teenager and I think it's reasonably age appropriate (a lot of violence though). And it did make us want to read all the books afterwards, so pretty effective if that's your goal/order.
posted by Margalo Epps at 9:35 PM on January 9

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