In the wide and varied history of comic book adaptations, “unadaptable” has always been a dangerous word. Watchmen was considered “unadaptable” once upon a time, after all, as was Garth Ennis’ violent, profane Preacher. For many creators, the concept itself is little more than a challenge or a dare, as they push the formal limits of television in order to capture what makes a particular graphic comic special. (Or miss the point entirely, but make a lot of money in the process.)
Still, if we’re being honest, Grant Morrison’s cosmic terrorist masterpiece The Invisibles is, really, pretty fucking unadaptable. Which isn’t stopping the prolific comics writer—whose Happy! was recently transitioned into a violently delightful Syfy series—from giving it a shot, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Morrison wrote The Invisibles—published by D.C.’s Vertigo imprint—from 1994 to 2000, based (so the story goes) on an experience where he was supposedly abducted by aliens while hanging out in Kathmandu. Although it’s ostensibly about a group of violent freedom fighters trying to use magic, sex, and general counter-culture weirdness in order to bring down a corrupt regime backed up by Lovecraftian monsters, the series is also kind of just about whatever Grant Morrison felt like writing about at the time, and includes elements from the following, by no means complete list:
- Cosmic placentas
- A time-traveling Marquis De Sade
- The ghosts of The Beatles
- Demon-possessed crack
- Skin-stealing assassins
- Drugs that make you see printed words as the objects they describe
- Human fox hunting
- Aerosol personalities
- And a whole lot of extra sex and violence besides
It is, in other words, if not unfilmable, then at least pretty damn hard to film—BBC Scotland tried to option it several years ago, but the adaptation failed to take. But the success of Happy!, and the upcoming Morrison-penned Syfy take on Brave New World, have apparently got people feeling optimistic that we might see Jack Frost, King Mob, Ragged Robin, Boy, and Lord Fanny take the screen at last.
(Interestingly, The Invisibles actually had its profile raised a bit last year, when the producers of Netflix’s Stranger Things snuck a few references to Morrison’s comic into the background of the show’s own somewhat controversial riff on teenaged outcasts with superpowers, “The Lost Sister.”)
Meanwhile, we can only pray that The Invisibles—which has yet to secure a network, but which is being produced by Morrison and Universal Cable Productions—is a success, if only so that they can then go on to do a version of Morrison’s follow-up, The Filth, in which an evil Texan pornographer is “beaten” to death by thousands of giant, ambulatory sperm.
You know, for kids!