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What Could be the Next Walking Dead: An Introduction to Y the Last Man

This post is part of a series of posts where we look at what long running comic book series could be looked at as the intellectual properties that could launch a hit television series, just like AMC did years ago with the now top-rated Walking Dead.  Our first nominee was the Brian Woods penned DMZ (read about that here).  This time, we want to look at the Brian K. Vaughan series Y the Last Man.


Why Could Y the Last Man be the Next Walking Dead?

First, Brian K. Vaughan is one of the best writers in the comic book business. Period.  His current masterpiece is Saga but before that, he was known for some major titles and properties, both for the Marvel and DC companies and also independently created.

2198751-y__the_last_man__53__2007_For a while, we lost Vaughan as a comic book creator as he was having major success as a television writer, most notably by helping the television series Lost regain itself after some stumbles, helping them remember what it was to tell a long form serial story.  All of which I list as the credentials for the writer before getting to the completed masterpiece that could be an excellent television series.

Y the Last Man began in 2002 and ran a total of 60 issues.  The premise of the book feels almost made for television. The basic idea is that something goes horribly wrong and kills every male mammal…except for an fledging escape artist names Yorick and his pet monkey Ampersand.  And from there, a LOT happens.  It has a robust supporting cast of characters, most notably Agent 355 who becomes Yorick’s protector as they try and discover what has happened and why is he the only one to survive.


Why the Comic Series Y the Last Man Works for Television

Here are some of the reasons that this show could work:

  • Brian K. Vaughan.  He knows how to tell a serial story, he has already had great success in the television world and he recently recovered all the rights to the property.  (New Line Cinema had a film in development with Dan Trachtenburg scheduled to direct but they failed to move on the property and the rights reverted to Vaughan.)
  • It is a completed story.  As I said with DMZ, having a clear beginning, middle and end at the start of the development process would seem like a win.
  • 1.pngIt would be relatively cheap to produce.  Versus the blockbuster 250 million dollar budgeted comic book superhero films, you want to make a television series that can be done relatively cheaply.  This show is potentially even cheaper to make than the Walking Dead, as their budget on make-up has to be astronomical.
  • The premise gives the television creators the ability to go in lots of directions.  Like the Walking Dead and its forthcoming partner series, the idea of what has happened that the world the comic has built can be mined for many different ideas and episode arcs.
  • The main idea of the series is a hook that would intrigue people enough to check it out.  Part of how the Walking Dead built its audience was having a premise that was easy enough for people to get onboard with: a zombie apocalypse.  Likewise, the premise of Y the Last Man is such that people will want to check out this new show that is about what happens if every living male dies…except one.

So, Y the Last Man could be the next great comic to television success story. Personally, I am thankful that the movie wasn’t made, in part because there was too much material to try and cram into a 2.5 hour film.  Television would let the series breathe and develop and take turns.  Add in the brilliant creator who has already had television success and it could be a hit property for a network!

Read Part 1: DMZ. Then tell us in the comments what comics you think would make excellent television shows!

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