Remember when DVDs were considered questionable for library collections? How about comic books? So, how about combining movies and comics to create an amazing program I like to call “Graphic Novel to Film Event”?
Many libraries now show films as regular programming thanks to movie licensing companies who provide both umbrella licenses and single viewing licenses. American Libraries wrote an article in 2011 going over the very basics of hosting a movie at the library, including securing performance rights, staff time, and post viewing discussion. You can even check out library film screening programs at the Princeton Public Library, the Scarsdale Public Library foreign films series, and the Wisconsin Film Festival previews at the Madison Public Library for more ideas.
With the recent popularity of comic book movies, more libraries are eager to join the movie screening scene. However, most patrons only think about Marvel and DC Comics’ movies like Captain America, Superman: Man of Steel, and Guardians of the Galaxy. And while these movies do have great comic book equals for a Graphic Novel to Film Event, there are many great independent and small press comics which have been turned into movies as well. Movie Licensing USA, a licensing service for public libraries has a great list of comic book/stip characters here and superheroes here, to give you an idea of what films are available.
For my last graphic novel book club, we had a Graphic Novel to Film Event where we screened the 2007 film 30 Days of Night and read the three issue miniseries of the same name by horror writer Steve Niles and dark, murky artist Ben Templesmith. In 30 Days of Night, the northernmost town in Alaska, Barrow, is preparing for their 30 days of pure darkness. This provides the perfect buffet for a pack of ruthless vampires whom lay siege to the town. Married couple Eben, the sheriff, and Stella, the fire marshall, work to save the survivors who remain hidden in the nooks and crannies of the town.
This is my second Graphic Novel to Film Event for the graphic novel book club. What was interesting about screening 30 Days of Night is that, not only is it odd for libraries to screen popular films, but to screen a horror film is almost unheard of. This film genre, often seen as low-brow, could discourage the average clientele from attending. However, our dedicated group loved this meeting.
When you host an event like this, it is important to do some research into both the film and the graphic novel. For example, the film received numerous bad reviews from sites like Rotten Tomatoes, where it has a 51% on the Tomatometer and has a 6.6/10 rating on IMDB.com. We discussed at length whether or not the harsh criticism was warranted, given that the director, David Slade, and writers had to fill in a lot of information from the very short book. One of the main areas you can see this filling in of details is the expansion of the complexities of the characters. In the comic, Eben and Stella have a healthy relationship; however, in the film, they are estranged. Eben also has an inhaler, making him more susceptible to the physical exertion necessary to defend the town.
I usually let the discussion go where the group leads it and the group went down a very interesting path with 30 Days of Night. The goal of the vampires is to completely cut off the town and have unimpeded access to their victims. They send in a human, eager to join their vampiric ranks, to burn the cell phones, take down communication lines, and destroy all utilities so there are no signals of distress to the outside world. Somehow, we made the connection between our oversharing, always connected world and how easy it was for the vampires to completely disconnect Barrow from the outside world. What does isolation mean in our current communication loaded world?
With the linked articles and anecdotal stories from hosting Graphic Novel to Film Events, I hope you are eager to host some of your own. Remember to read the comics, watch the movie, look at ratings and reviews of both the comic and the movie, and be thoughtful with your prepared questions.
Have you hosted a Graphic Novel to Film like event? How did it go? Would you do it again?