BY MATT TUCK
After much hype, The Nice House on the Lake #1 has hit comic shops, and it is proving to be a major hit for DC’s Black Label. That leads to the big question, is it destined for a live-action treatment?
There’s no sure answer for that, at least not yet. However, The Nice House on the Lake has some distinct advantages over other horror series that could move it to the front of the live-action line, even ahead of James Tynion IV's immensely popular Something is Killing the Children.
THE HOLLYWOOD TAKEOVER
Love it or hate it, the comic market is driven by movies, television, and to a lesser extent, video games. Whether it’s new comics or those classic keys, all it takes is a little live-action news, and you suddenly have a red hot key on your hands.
We can mostly thank (or blame, depending on your perspective) this on Marvel Studios, but it’s been like this even before the MCU kicked off in the first Iron Man movie. Whether it was X-Men or even those atrocious Fantastic Four movies, the comic market has been largely influenced by the mainstream media for a long time; Marvel just perfected the formula.
These days, the comic movie and television properties are hotter than ever, and it wasn’t even Marvel that did the trick. No, it was Star Wars and The Mandalorian that ignited the comic collecting world like nothing before. Then Marvel’s Disney+ series kicked off, and the massively popular shows bring about wave after wave of key issue speculation. All it takes is for characters to appear on Disney+, and suddenly their keys reach a volcanic eruption.
To a lesser extent, there is the DC Extended Universe. No question, the DCEU has been playing catchup to the MCU for several years now. DC joined the party a little late, and it has put them well behind the box office competition. Still, the DCEU has gotten a nitrous boost to its engines with the success of the Justice League Snyder Cut, and that is fueling more DC speculation than ever.
Between Marvel and DC, superheroes rule the box office and now they are dominating the streaming services. With Marvel under the Disney banner and DC at home at HBO Max, it has opened the door to the independent publishers. Netflix recently aired its first Millarworld property, Jupiter’s Legacy, and there are several other projects on the way. Over on Amazon Prime, Robert Kirkman’s Invincible has been living up to its name.
THE CURRENT LANDSCAPE
With comic book-inspired movies and television carving up the Hollywood landscape, it is no wonder that studios are optioning properties left and right. When a studio options a comic, that means they have secured the rights to use that property in a film or series. It does not guarantee that the comic will ever make it into live action or animation, but it certainly leads to plenty of speculation. That is enough to boost those key issue prices overnight when word spreads that a comic has been optioned, especially when a major studio is involved.
Even the smallest of publishers can get a hot commodity if there’s even a hint that it could be adapted into a movie or show. The Nice House on the Lake may read like an indy horror comic, and that is a compliment, but it is a DC property. That gives it a serious leg up on the competition for the Hollywood treatment. After all, HBO Max has plenty of live-action DC adaptations on the agenda. The success of the Snyder Cut has lit a fire under all the DC properties. With the popularity of The Nice House on the Lake #1, it stands to reason that this could be on WarnerMedia/Warner-Discovery’s radar. For that matter, it could already be in the works as far as we know since HBO Max is developing so many DC properties into series.
What further helps matters is that the comic is clearly written with the big or small screen in mind. That would make for an easy adaptation to the world of live action, and I feel certain that has not been missed on the WarnerMedia and DC executives.
The other factor is James Tynion IV. He has established himself as the premiere writer in the horror comics realm. This makes for his third hit series following Something is Killing the Children and The Department of Truth. The difference with The Nice House on the Lake is that it is a DC property, so that gives the publisher plenty of incentive to get it onto HBO Max. It would be a win-win for both companies. In fact, that could position it ahead of SIKTC and DOT when it comes to a live-action adaptation.
At the moment, there are no rumors of a live-action NHOTL in the making, but it just feels so much like a given that I expect an announcement will be in order sometime over the next year. That is going to escalate those prices for the first issue and all its variants and subsequent printings.
This book is much too new for there to be any graded sales data, but eBay’s sold listings show the standard cover already selling for $10 or more. Meanwhile, the 1:25 ratio variant is earning $50. Behind those, the other variants are inflating as well, with the Ken Lashley minimal trade dress selling for $50, and the Franceso Francavilla cover last sold for $45. The most expensive so far has been the Robert Hack edition, which sold for $66 on June 7.
A NICE OUTLOOK FOR THE NICE HOUSE
The horror comic genre is alive and well in 2021, and I foresee Hollywood picking up on that trend going forward. Having the backing of DC and WarnerMedia, the future is bright for The Nice House on the Lake.
TNHOTL is a sleeper. I got the impression this was going to be a short limited-run series, but 7 issues in and very little have been revealed. I wonder if the five-month hiatus was because they decided to have it ongoing like SIKTC and they needed time to rework the vol1 arc and overall ongoing story going forward.