The Best Graphic Novels Based on TV Shows

Posted by Rose Moore

These days it seems that film and TV can’t get enough of turning literature into live-action. Hit series like Outlander, Game of Thrones, True Blood and Orange is the New Black all came from the pages of a book, while movie versions of novels are so common that I couldn’t even begin to list them all.

However, many people don’t realize that this isn’t a one-way street.

There are an impressive number of books based on TV shows and movies, and I’m not just talking about self-published fan fiction. From The 10th Kingdom (based on the mini-series of the same name) to the huge number of Star Trek and Star Wars books, there's plenty of successful literature that made the cross-over from screen to paper. 

Even more common than full-length novels, however, are TV-based comic books. It’s a logical step, as both comic books and TV shows are serialized, with plenty of room to explore peripheral characters and story arcs. Comic books are also significantly less expensive to produce, giving writers the room to explore all those ideas that a network might not be willing to buy.

Picking up a companion comic for a favorite show is a fantastic way to get to know the characters even better, help you cope with the break between seasons, and even keep enjoying new stories from a show that’s long been cancelled.

If you can’t get enough of your favorite shows, delve into these TV-inspired reads between episodes!

1. Serenity (Dark Horse Comics)

Oh, Firefly. Many fans have never forgiven FOX for what they did with this cult series back in 2002. Aired out of order and cancelled out of hand, Browncoats lobbied for the show to return to TV, but at this point, it seems that it's simply not going to happen.

However, the incredible dedication of the Firefly fandom led to a follow up film, Serenity, and a comic book series of the same name. These are short story arcs that follow the adventures of Captain Mal and the crew, before and after the events of the show and movie. They are a worthy addition to Firefly canon, and shows how phenomenal the series could have been if handled differently by the network.  

Bound to make you a little wistful if you are already a fan, the Serenity series is definitely still worth reading!


2. Buffy The Vampire Slayer (Dark Horse Comics)

Another Whedon series continuation, this ongoing series picks up where the hit TV series leaves off, as Buffy and the Slayerettes leave Sunnydale and head out to fight evil elsewhere. Other arcs in the comics take place during the events of the show, and as prequels to it, allowing fans to follow the story of the Slayer from the very beginning. While not all of the comics are considered canon, they are all enjoyable reads, and the Season 8 series is an incredible extension of the show.


3. Supernatural (DC Comics)

If you are fan of the Winchesters, you’ll love the DC companion miniseries. These books cover the origins of the family and the brothers’ childhood on the road, as well as a few “hunting trips” as adults. While the series isn’t long or involved enough to be interwoven with the series itself, they form an amazing prequel to the show. The books that focus on the boys as adults are reminiscent of the first few seasons, where Sam and Dean only had to worry about finding a monster and killing it, rather than battling heaven and hell on a daily basis.


4. Doctor Who (Titan Comics)

There’s no doubt that Doctor Who is a show with almost unlimited scope for an expanded universe. It also boasts a fanbase that is extremely comfortable with the nerdier side of life. While the Doctor has appeared in a range of comics over the years, this latest series from Titan is already a fan-favorite. Extending the adventures of the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth Doctors, the books cover existing companions and characters as well as introducing new faces. Revisit Tennant and Smith, and get to know Capaldi a little better as these comics follow the Doctor through time and space!


5. Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD (Marvel)

SHIELD has (obviously) appeared throughout the Marvel-verse for some time, but it’s only recently that we have seen this particular version of Agent Coulson and his crew transplanted from the TV series to the comics. The 2014 Marvel’s Agents Of SHIELD comic series takes the familiar faces from the show and creates a whole new storyline around them. Unhampered by issues of budget and studio rights ownership the way that the TV series is, the comics see Coulson and his band of plucky agents meeting Marvel’s biggest names. If you enjoy the show, but wish it was more connected to the rest of Marvel’s comics, this is absolutely the series for you.


Bonus Comic Series: Arrow and The Flash (DC Comics)

Like Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, the TV versions of Green Arrow, The Flash, and the rest of the gang from the CW TV shows can now be found within the pages of comic books. As if coming full circle, these comic-inspired characters in turn inspired show-specific comics, so that fans of the TV series can follow the Oliver Queen and Barry Allen they know and love from the small screen. It’s still worth reading the originals, but these additions to the DC roster are a great way for fans to take their first steps into the world of comic books.


Do you read any comic series based on TV? Which other shows do you think deserve a comic spin-off? Let us know at @QuirkBooks!