Among the news from out of SDCC was the announcement of a ‘Wonderland’ television series based on Zenescope’s re-imagining of the works of Lewis Carroll.  Having recently done a little bit of reading and research on the subject (we got a HUGE lot of Zenescope comics in, and I wanted an idea of what precisely I am selling), I’ve found that the title contains a lot more violence, sexuality and adult themes than I have seen on regular broadcast network television.  Certainly cable channels have more leeway with TV-MA shows (‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Archer’ come to mind) but that also limits the audience to those who have the appropriate channel, especially when it comes to pay channels like HBO.

The MS-QOTD (pronounced “jah-bur-wok”) cannot explain itself because it’s not itself, you see, asking:
Would you rather have a toned-down version of an adult-oriented property that EVERYONE can access, or a faithful adaptation with a limited audience?

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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  1. July 21, 2012 at 11:43 am — Reply

    That is a tricky one. I suppose I prefer something in the middle if they feel they must make it accessible. For instance, there is probably never going to be a faithful adaptation of the Barsoom stories because of the nearly non-existance of clothing. Even without sex, nudity is still frowned upon in some places. But then they run the risk of creating something so different that it no longer resembles the source material.

  2. Mike Keller
    July 21, 2012 at 12:24 pm — Reply

    I think the producers have to decide who their target audience is. Zenoscope doesn’t seem to have an issue with that. While as a youngster I enjoyed stories written for kids, as an adult I appreciate a “reinterpretation” of classic tales that is oriented toward an adult audience. If it is being marketed in countries where modesty is a social norm, you can film 2 cuts, and edit them appropriately. If you’re looking to market toys to billions of kids, then no. If you’re looking to produce an incredible (and mature) version of the tale in the tradition of Rome, True Blood, Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, and so on then sure kids won’t see it, but I don’t think the audience will be that limited.
    I think more depends on whether they can make a version that is faithful to the intent of the author (like what Alisha said), and yet still speaks to the viewers.

  3. Raistlin Majere
    July 21, 2012 at 1:42 pm — Reply

    I believe they have said what needs to be said…at least I can’t think of anything interesting to add. I am looking forward to the animated series even having read very few Zenoscope books. The people working on it I have enjoyed on various other projects so I’m hoping it goes well for them.

  4. B.V.K.
    July 21, 2012 at 4:16 pm — Reply

    Faithful adaptation is always for the best with a property that has already proven itself. When you try to tone down a property that shouldn’t be messed with you get the PG-13 Thomas Jayne Punisher movie instead of something more akin to the awesome vignette he did on his own that was more faithful to the source material for example.

  5. Xian
    July 21, 2012 at 6:40 pm — Reply

    Depends on how critical the prurient material is to the essence of the property.

    If the heart and soul of the thing doesn’t demand it and is elsewhere, I think providing greater access is generally a better thing. If if the property is about sex/violence, then I’d be more hesitant to sacrifice that, but at the same time the adapted thing itself can take on its own life and have a value all its own.

    I wouldn’t go so far to say TMNT was about violence, but certainly that was part of the comic’s appeal. Despite the widespread cartoon being almost an entirely different beast, I’m not going to begrudge all those millions of kids that adored those turtles.

  6. Erik Waddell
    July 23, 2012 at 1:08 pm — Reply

    I don’t see any issue with getting a decent-sized audience without toning down the content. Look at True Blood. That show is basically a mediocre soap-opera spiced up with vampires, nudity, sex, and graphic violence – and it manages to do very well.

    True, Wonderland doesn’t tap into the same pop-culture popularity of vampires these days, but the riské elements of the book are not in and of themselves a hindrance to getting a good audience. They may in fact be the key to getting any audience at all.

  7. July 23, 2012 at 3:54 pm — Reply

    I’ve only downloaded a free preview of “Wonderland”, but I don’t think it’s a great idea to tone it down for a younger audience. Isn’t the idea of these franchises to cross-pollinate (get yer mind outta the gutter!) the two mediums? But if this is the case, isn’t it kinda hard for the younger demographic to get into the comics, without their parents having a fit?

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