The webcomics blog about webcomics

Good Question, And A Reminder For All Of Us

Received in the Fleen mailbag from reader Alexander Rogers yesterday:

I had a webcomic question that I figured you would be well placed to answer. I recently read about an upcoming Jennifer Lopez / Owen Wilson movie called Marry Me, which is based on a webcomic by Bobby Crosby. (Apparently this webcomic started in 2005.) Universal Pictures has announced a release date of February 2022, and principal photography was all done in 2019.

Assuming this picture gets released, and assuming the Nimona film is (very sadly) never brought to light, would this mean that Marry Me would be the first film to be based on a webcomic?

Excellent question, Alexander! Couple of things to get out of the way before we tackle the substance of your query. First, we should note that, prolific as he his, Bobby Crosby is not the only person involved in the creation of Marry Me; due credit should be given as well to the the artist, Remy “Eisu” Mokhtar.

Secondly, the film adaptation of Nimona — which was as close to complete as you can get — was killed by those rat bastard cowards at Disney earlier this year and has as much chance of ever seeing daylight as Let’s Get Francis¹.

Thirdly, and for our purposes here today most importantly, we have to broaden our viewpoints beyond equating webcomics with [North] American (or possibly English-language) webcomics, as the two are not equivalent.

In this respect, we at Fleen are lucky to have a pair of resources to bring us wider perspectives²: Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin and the invaluable Ryan Estrada. The former could tell of comics creators who’ve worked in the milieu of BD web alongside print, and have seen work adapted to film: Joséphine, The Rabbi’s Cat, The Big Bad Fox³, and numerous others. But maybe not what you were looking for, since they aren’t directly taken from webcomics.

So let us look to the other side of the globe, and South Korea; webcomics are a much, much bigger deal there than we can comprehend, occupying a niche convergent with manhwa and fully equivalent to the manga industry in Japan. There are so many webcomics that hit widespread popular consciousness off the major aggregators that movies are inevitable; in fact, Estrada gave us a list of 13 of them more than seven years ago; heck, Estrada tells us right at the beginning that Kangfull is a Korean webcomic artist who has had just as many film adaptations of his work as JK Rowling.

Fleen doesn’t have correspondents in Japan or China, and doubtless there are webtoon aggregators in each country sending comics to movies, but I was able to find two after a short search: Nigakute Amai from Japan, and Go Away, Mr Tumor from China (the latter chosen as China’s submission for Best Foreign Language Film consideration at the 2015 Oscars).

But let’s restrict ourselves to what I think the intended scope of your question was, given that you wrote to an English-language site in the US: will Marry Me be the first adaptation of an English-language webcomic making it to theatrical release? There’s Polar, based on the webcomic of the same name, but it was released by Netflix via streaming. So despite starring Mads Mikkelsen, I’m going to disqualify it.

But the answer is still no, because the movie of We Bare Bears was released as a simulcast to North American theaters a couple of months before it released to TV. The movie, naturally, was adapted from the TV show, which was in turn based on creator Daniel Chong’s original webcomic, The Three Bare Bears. Not a direct leap from webcomics to the movie screen, but I think the lineage is undeniable. Crosby & Mokhtar are following on a path blazed by Chong.

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¹ IMDB doesn’t even have a listing for Nimona anymore; it existed as late as two weeks after Blue Sky was axed, but has since been memory-holed.

² And even so, we could use more. Live in a part of the world with webcomics and nobody talking about them? Get in touch!

³ From the work of, respectively, Pénélope Bagieu, Joann Sfar, and Bejamin Renner.

4 I was able to find one Japanese webtoon-format manga adapted to live action: , and I’ll wager there are others.

Thanks for that thorough answer! Yes, about an hour after emailing you, I realised that many Asian webtoons have been adapted, but you did what I hoped you’d do and adapt the question to “English-language”. (Though in reading your links it’s certainly not the first English-language movie since Priest (2011) was based on a Korean manga, as Ryan Estrada noted in his article.

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