Adapting a story into a script is a different kind of challenge from writing a story from scratch. Obviously the writer does not face the burden of creating a new setting, plot, or new characters. However, the original material must often be changed to make it suitable for the medium of film.
In the case of Dark Dungeons, our adaptation largely involved dialog changes. Obviously there are many problems with the original comic in terms of characterization, narrative flow, and a deus ex machina ending. While these could have been changed, those qualities (in our opinion) are part of the comic’s appeal, and what led us to film it in the first place. A more rational, carefully plotted version of the story that didn’t stretch suspension of disbelief might make a more serious movie, but it wouldn’t be Dark Dungeons.
That said, certain areas of the story needed work. The beginning is considerably more fleshed out in the film than in the comic. We attempted to justify Blackleaf’s death during an action sequence that does not occur in the original tract. One suspects that Mr. Chick did not have the firmest grasp on how D&D games actually worked at the time he wrote the comic. We attempted to fill in the gaps using our own memories of the game. Nevertheless, we didn’t change Ms. Frost’s rather arbitrary decision to kill Blackleaf, since it seemed like an inherent part of the story.
We also added material to the scene in the Satanic temple, which is only one panel with a few lines of dialog in the comic. We wanted the scene to be longer because (A) it is an important turning point for Debbie and (B) it was easier to justify constructing the set and character models for a longer scene than a shorter one.
Similarly, we added material to the scene where Debbie finds Marcie’s body. Because the two are supposedly close friends, we wanted this scene to carry more of an impact than it does in the comic. Likewise, we fleshed out Debbie’s argument with Ms. Frost to better justify why Debbie feels there is no escape.
We spent some time discussing how to handle Mike. His dialog in the comic implies that he knows Debbie and has already talked to her about Jesus before. However, this is never shown. We debated inserting a scene earlier in the script that would introduce him, (possibly between scenes four and five) but decided that it would be too disruptive to the original comic story. In the end, we simply changed Mike’s dialog around to account for his presence in that scene.
|Correspondence of Script to Comic:|
Panels 1 and 2 of the comic (not counting the cover). The Dark Dungeons players fight a monster, which Debbie blinds with her spell of light. Marcie's character Black Leaf is killed by a poison trap.
Panels 2 and 3 of the comic. Marcie reacts to the death of her character. Ms. Frost offers to teach Debbie how to "really cast spells."
Panel 4 of the comic. Ms. Frost takes Debbie to join a witches coven.
Panels 5, 6, and 7 of the comic. Debbie and Ms. Frost talk about "the real power" and Debbie explains that she cast mind bondage on her father.
Panel 8 of the comic. Debbie fights the zombie, while Ms. Frost talks on the phone with Marcie, who is upset. Debbie agrees to see Marcie later that night.
Panel 9 of the comic. Mrs. Anderson, Marcie's mother, tells Debbie how Marcie has changed since her game character was killed.
Panels 10 and 11 of the comic. Debbie finds Marcie's body hanging from a ceiling fan.
Panels 12, 13, and 14 of the comic. Debbie and Ms. Frost argue about the meaning of Marcie's suicide.
Panels 15 and 16 of the comic. Mike approaches Debbie and offers to help her deal with her problems.
Panels 17, 18, 19, and 20 of the comic. A preacher holds a revival meeting where he talks about the evils of role-playing games and fantasy fiction. Debbie comes up on stage and accepts Jesus on the spot.
Panel 21 of the comic. The preacher leads a group of people as they burn items related to role-playing games and other "occult paraphernalia."
Dark Dungeons Current Script - Draft #5 - (11/28/09)
Last Updated: September 6, 2010