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Cross-pollination in the entertainment industry

I was looking through a collection of the FoxTrot comic strip on the weekend, and found one that struck me as being more truthful than some people might think.

The older son, Peter, and his younger brother, Jason, are in a comic book store. Peter is looking over the racks of comics and listing off the titles.

“Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy, Hellboy, Watchmen, The Walking Dead . . .”

Then he stops and ask Jason (a real collector), “Is there like some rule that comic books have to be based on TV shows and movies?”

Jason can only look at him and say, “Seriously?”

I laughed when I read it, because I imagine there are a fair number of moviegoers who don’t realize how many of today’s movies, especially the action ones, are based on comic books. Every title Peter listed was a comic before it became a movie (or a series of movies.

Of course, it works both ways. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a movie (with Kristy Swanson as the title character) and a TV series (with Sarah Michelle Gellar) before it became a comic book.

Buffy also serves as a great example of how often TV shows and movies do what I have decided to call ‘cross-pollination’. That’s where, in the case of Buffy, a movie is a big hit, so a TV executive decides to make a series out of it.

Then, as mentioned, a comic-book company decides to make a book based on the TV series.

Cross-pollination works in many different directions. Does anyone remember a TV series from the 1960s called The Fugitive, with David Janssen as Dr. Richard Kimble, on the run from the police for the murder of his wife?

Well, it took a while, but Hollywood apparently ran out of ideas one day and figured most people would have forgotten about the TV show, so they put Harrison Ford in the Dr. Richard Kimble role and made a big-time movie out of it.

To some extent, I think the ultimate example of cross-pollination is from a TV show that only aired for three seasons in the 1960s. Since then, there have been a number of movies made from the original concept of that short-lived show, a number of other TV shows using the same universe, movies that are from the same universe but from different time periods, comic books, and approximately 1.3 million books.

You’ve probably heard of it: Star Trek.