Martin Scorsese, despite his current roiling criticism of movies adapted from comic books, is no opponent of the illustrated story.
One of the legendary director's most enchanting films, in fact, is the Oscar-winning 2011 release Hugo. The illustrated novel it was adapted from is Brian Selznick's 2007 work The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which won the 2008 Caldecott Medal for picture books.
So it is curious - and perhaps telling - when Scorsese lashes out at other contemporary movies that sell their sense of fantasy and CGI spectacle, reports The Washington Post.
"Right now the theaters seem to be mainly supporting the theme park, amusement park, comic book films. They're taking over the theaters," Scorsese told an audience Monday at the Rome Film Festival, where he presented his upcoming Netflix film The Irishman. "I think they can have those films; it's fine. It's just that that shouldn't become what our young people believe is cinema. It just shouldn't."
Scorsese was largely speaking to the modern economics of Hollywood, through the clear frustration that even he - one of our greatest auteurs - cannot get sufficient financing for a film without the new-model backing of a streaming studio like Netflix.
But there is a wealth of comic books that the Hugo filmmaker might not only appreciate but also enjoy making into movies (or Netflix miniseries) that would qualify, in his view, as "cinema."
Here are five comics that Scorsese should check out and - if the rights could be secured - consider adapting:
1. The Fade Out, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (Image Comics)
This crime series has it all for an industry historian like Scorsese: murder, mystery and the mid-century Hollywood blacklist. The comics were inspired by the experience and true tales of Brubaker's uncle, Oscar-nominated screenwriter John Paxton (Crossfire).
Factor in the beguiling noir shadows and richly tinted characters - in stories that nod to Dashiell Hammett and The Day of the Locust - and Fade Out brims with filmic possibilities for a master cinéaste.
2. The Ghost Script, by Jules Feiffer (Liveright)
The author-cartoonist who broke into the comics business with The Spirit and wrote the screenplay for Mike Nichols' Carnal Knowledge has delivered a masterful noir trilogy in recent years - and this entry's mix of Hollywood crime, power and influence spanning generations would be smack in the wheelhouse of Scorsese. There are political witch hunts, shoot-'em-ups, protests - fertile ground for a director who knows how true power works in the shadows.
3. All the Answers, by Michael Kupperman (Gallery 13)
A storyteller who can plumb the bizarre nature of television fame (a la Scorsese's The King of Comedy) - and who has so deftly played a slick TV-savvy CEO (in Robert Redford's Quiz Show) - is just the person to take on this true-life 1940s tale. The author's father, Joel Kupperman, became a "national obsession" as a boy while starring on the radio broadcast Quiz Kids. Answers is ripe for a period-piece adaptation about the costs of child stardom, by a director who witnessed the cultural power of pre-'50s radio as a boy.
4. California Dreamin': Cass Elliott Before the Mamas & the Papas, by Pénélope Bagieu (Macmillan)
Scorsese, as a passionate documentarian of classic rock icons - including Dylan, Harrison and the Band - is just the filmmaker to tell the story of one of their contemporaries: the late "Mama" Cass Elliott. From Los Angeles to London, Cass was not only a beautiful voice but also a connective force among so many stars, including the Beatles. California Dreamin' traces her Maryland-Virginia upbringing and effusive personality. Scorsese, who was an assistant director on Woodstock, could evoke the era while painting the truth of the deep title character.
5. Patience, by Daniel Clowes (Fantagraphics)
Clowes' comics have been adapted into such films as Ghost World and Wilson, and 2016's Patience - a "psychedelic science-fiction love story" that pings from terror to tenderness - and would be excellent source material for the director of the superbly quirky 1980s crime-comedy After Hours.