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The 15 (non-superhero) comics that should absolutely be TV shows

Spandex and superpowered fights are fun, but shows like "The Walking Dead" and "Preacher" prove there's a whole other side of comics ripe for TV pickings.

Luke Lancaster
Luke Lancaster is an Associate Editor with CNET, based out of Australia. He spends his time with games (both board and video) and comics (both reading and writing).
Luke Lancaster
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'The Fade Out'

Let's run down the checklist for "The Fade Out". It's a noir murder mystery. It's set in 1940s Hollywood, and goes deep on the corrupt studio system and McCarthyism. Period drama is all the rage, and "The Fade Out" fits the bill.

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2 of 15 Image

'Nailbiter'

An FBI agent, the local sheriff and Edward Charles Warren, the eponymous Nailbiter, work together to discover why a small town in Oregon keeps churning out serial killers. Think "Hannibal" but with less cooking.

'Gotham Central'
'Gotham Central'
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3 of 15 DC Comics

'Gotham Central'

Okay, so we got "Gotham," which was sort of a Batman prequel that sort of follows the Gotham police department. But "Gotham Central" is a much better realisation of a hard-hitting crime drama that follows the police who work in the shadow of the Bat.

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4 of 15 Image

'The Wicked and the Divine'

Reincarnated deities become pop stars and they're all gonna die young. That's "The Wicked and the Divine" in a nutshell, and don't even try and tell me that doesn't sound like a high-concept TV show.

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5 of 15 IDW

'Locke & Key'

Though there was an ill-fated pilot made in 2011, this modern horror story from Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodríguez needs to bring its Lovecraft-infused mythology to TV like right now.

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'Chew'

Tony Chu is a cibopath. That means he gets psychic impressions from the things he eats (even bits of people). Cue a police procedural. Tony works for the FDA, cracking down on poultry smuggling after a bird flu epidemic made chicken illegal. There's an animated feature in the works, but "Chew" needs to be on screens already. (Yes, there's already "iZombie," but Chew is way weirder.)

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7 of 15 Image

'Black Magick'

Rowan Black is a cop. She's also a witch, descended from a long line of witches. Portsmouth, the small town where she resides, is a hotbed of occult activity. You can see where this is going. Luckily, "Black Magick" has been optioned by the producer of "The Magicians".

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'East of West'

If weird, post-apocalyptic, sci-fi westerns are your jam, you're probably reading "East of West". If you aren't, the sheer scope of this story that follows Death (of the Four Horsemen) across a strange alternate America screams prestige genre TV.

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'Deadly Class'

"Deadly Class" is about a school for assassins who all happen to be angry, sexy teens. The fact The CW isn't already 6 seasons deep is an ongoing mystery. Luckily, the Russo Brothers ("Captain America: Civil War") are on board to bring it to screens in 2017.

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10 of 15 Image

'Morning Glories'

"Morning Glories" follows six students in a prep school hiding a sinister history. It might seem like a lazy pitch, but we're back to sexy teens and dark secrets, the lifeblood of television in 2016.

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11 of 15 Vertigo

'Transmetropolitan'

Spider Jerusalem is a journalist rallying against corrupt presidents, social decay and even his own popularity in the not-too-distant future. It's bitter, vulgar and far too relevant to not be on TV.

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12 of 15 Wildstorm

'Ex Machina'

It feels like "Ex Machina" pops up every time someone makes one of these lists, so far be it from me to buck the trend. An ex-superhero becomes mayor of New York. I know, I said no superheroes. But it's like giving Jed Bartlet a jetpack.

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13 of 15 Vertigo

'Southern Bastards'

If gritty crime dramas with unsympathetic protagonists are your thing, Jason Aaron and Jason Latour's exploration of a small town in the Deep South will hit home like a big stick. That's a reference to the comic.

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14 of 15 Image

'Sex Criminals'

Jon and Suzie can stop time when they have sex. So they rob banks. "Sex Criminals" has been one of the buzziest comedies in comics for a couple of years now. It's weird, it's hilarious and it'd make wonderful (if very adult) TV.

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'Trees'

"Trees" is set a decade after aliens arrive on Earth. The issue is that they don't actually do anything when they get here. It's an amazing cross section of cultures, politics and high-concept sci-fi.

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