Polyptych: Adaptation, Television, and Comics

Reginald Wiebe (Ed.)

by Neale Barnholden (University of Alberta), Fernando Gabriel Pagnoni Berns (Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina), Lauren Chochinov (Sheridan College ), Iris Haist (Erich Ohser - e.o.plauen Stiftung), Jessica Carmago Molano (University of Salerno, Italy), Alfonso Amendola (University of Salerno, Italy), Brittany Reid (Thompson Rivers University), Katie Turcotte (Queen’s University), Reginald Wiebe (Concordia University of Edmonton)

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“Polyptych: Adaptation, Television, and Comics” seeks to expand our understanding of a remarkably under-studied area: the intersection of comic books and television. Through a series of case studies, questions about how media align and differ are brought to the fore. The authors here address a wide variety of works, from fairly low-budget adaptations of popular comic books in the 1970s to more expansive narrative universes in recent years. The breadth of examples does a good job of underlining a variety of approaches to the texts. Generally, the essays here are narrowly focused, which means that they do not fall into the error of generalizing. The scholarship demonstrates strong familiarity with earlier writers on comics and television, and, in particular, theories of adaptation. This is an interesting volume that addresses an area that few other books do (particularly in contrast to the voluminous scholarship on the comics-cinema relationship), and I am certain that it will find a readership among both comics and television scholars.

Dr Bart Beaty
Professor, Department of English
University of Calgary

Through each of its chapters, 'Polyptych: Adaptation, Television, and Comics' examines the complex dynamics of adapting serialized texts. The transmedial adaptation of collaborative and unstable texts does not lend itself to the same strategies as other, more static adaptations such as novels or plays. Building off the foundational work of Linda Hutcheon and Gérard Genette, Polyptych considers the analogy of adaptation as a palimpsest—a manuscript page that has been reused, leaving traces of the previous work behind—as needing to be reevaluated. A polyptych is a multi-panel artwork and provides a new model for analyzing how adaptation works when translating collaborative and unstable texts. Given that most television and comic books are episodic and serialized, and considering that both media are also the cumulative work of many artists, this book offers a series of distanced readings to reassess how adaptation works in this field. Comic book adaptations on television are plentiful and are nearly completely ignored in critical discussions of adaptation.

This collection focuses on texts that fall outside the most common subjects of study among the corpus and contributes to expanding the field of inquiry. The book features texts that are subjects of previous academic interest, as well as studies of texts that have never before been critically considered. It also includes an appendix that provides the first list of comic book adaptations on North American television. 'Polyptych' is a unique and timely contribution to dynamic and growing fields of study.

The book will be of interest to scholars and researchers in the fields of Comic Studies, Adaptation Studies, and Critical Media Studies more broadly, as well as to students undertaking courses on these subjects. It will also appeal to comic book and pop culture fans who wish to expand their knowledge on the subject.

Introduction: Continuous Backgrounds
Reginald Wiebe
Concordia University of Edmonton

Chapter One
From Comicbook to Road Narrative: The Incredible Hulk (1977-1982) as Serialized Drama
Fernando Pagnoni Berns
Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina

Chapter Two
The Haunting of Riverdale: Reimaging Archie as Gothic Melodrama
Brittany Reid
Thompson Rivers University

Chapter Three
Television and Comics: The Case of iZombie
Jessica Camargo Molano
University of Salerno, Italy
Alfonso Amendola
University of Salerno, Italy

Chapter Four
A Convoy of Jeeps: Serial Adaptation in The Adventures of Tintin
Reginald Wiebe
Concordia University of Edmonton

Chapter Five
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Joss, and Kitty: The Impact of the Movie and the TV Series on Comics and Vice Versa
Iris Haist
Erich Ohser - e.o.plauen Stiftung

Chapter Six
“What’s Going On with You Two?”: Queerness, Fandom, and Adaptation in The Legend of Korra Franchise
Lauren Chochinov
Sheridan College

Chapter Seven
Establishing Canon through Transmedial Narrative Strategies from Television to Comics: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and the Morphin Grid
Katie Turcotte
Queen’s University

Chapter Eight
The Family Plot: the 1964 Filmways Contract and The Addams Family as Transmedia Brand
Neale Barnholden
University of Alberta

Notable Comicbook Television Adaptations
Neale Barnholden
University of Alberta

Author Biographies

Dr Reginald Wiebe is an Assistant Professor of English at Concordia University of Edmonton. His teaching areas include Canadian Literature, British Literature, International Literature, Postcolonialism, and Graphic Literature. He completed his PhD at the University of Alberta in 2015 and has been employed in the Department of Literature and Languages at Concordia since 2016. His research interests are primarily in the field of comics studies, particularly in the area of Graphic Medicine. He is working on a manuscript with Dr Dorothy Woodman of the University of Alberta called 'The Cancer Plot: Terminal Immortality in Marvel Comic’s Moral Universe'. Research from this project has been shared at various conferences in Canada, including the Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English (ACCUTE), the Canadian Disabilities Studies Association (CDSA) and the Canadian Society for the Study of Comics (CSSC). He has also presented conference papers and given public talks on superhero comics and mental health, as well as pedagogical talks on why to teach comics in the classroom.

Adaptation, comicbooks, comics, television, popular culture, Tintin, Addams Family, iZombie, Power Rangers, Archie, Riverdale, Hulk, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Legend of Korra, Avatar, Joss Whedon, Hergé, Marvel Comics, American Literature, serialization, transmedia, Hutcheon, Genette, gothic, fandom, queer theory, sitcom

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Bibliographic Information

Book Title

Polyptych: Adaptation, Television, and Comics





Number of pages


Physical size

236mm x 160mm

Publication date

June 2021