There was an interesting article in the L.A. Times on Monday, July 20th about the author Donald E. Westlake, who wrote detective novels and pulp fiction. He is also noted for being the screenwriter of or his books being the basis of such movies as Point Blank, The Hot Rock, The Stepfather, The Grifters and Payback. The article was about a series of graphic novels being adapted from his novels with a hero by the name of Parker, Westlake’s signature character. When it come to Hollywood, though, Westlake would let a novel with Parker be adapted to the screen, but only if they changed the name (Point Blank and Payback). I guess he didn’t trust Hollywood–go figure.
But now he has allowed an illustrator Darwyn Cooke and a book editor Scott Dumbier to adapt his books into graphic novels, and allowing them to use Parker’s name instead of changing it.
What interested me here is that I have a friend who noticed that in the 1930’s and up to and especially in the 1950’s, Hollywood (as well as France) would often base movies on pulp fiction stories and novels (Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain to name but a bare few). In fact, this was a prime source of movie stories and it eventually gave rise to what is now called Film Noir (it still is, especially in France). My friend believes that graphic novels are replacing these pulp writers as a source for movies and that they will have the same impact as the pulp fiction did. And it’s not just superhero graphic novels like Batman and Spiderman. Movies such as A History of Violence, Persopolis and Road to Perdition are all adapted from Graphic Novels.
So for those who look down on graphic novels, remember, people like you looked down on pulp fiction 1950’s and see what it gained you.