Deadly Class: How SyFy adapted the violent 80’s set comic for TV


How did SyFy tackle bringing Deadly Class to the silver screen?

For those who have read Rick Remender’s Deadly Class, you’ve probably wondered how any channel on network television would be able to adapt this graphic novel. The 80’s set story is graphic in almost every way, but especially when it comes to violence. The SyFy version is just as bloody and attempts to stay true to the source material.

Minor spoilers from the first episode of Deadly Class below. 

In an interview with Collider, series co-creator Miles Orion Feldsott spoke about what it was like to address a lot of the darkness in the world and put it on screen.

"“I think there’s two ways to look at art and it’s certainly a question that Rick and I ask ourselves, not only when we put violence in this project, but if we put homophobia or racism or sexism or any kind of ugliness of the world. You have to ask yourself, why is it there? And I think it’s there to hold up a mirror to society. And there’s certainly the other way to go, which is more aspirational art, but there are dark things in our society that we want to examine through art.”"

Like a lot of places, the school in Deadly Class, King’s Dominion, is plagued by a lot of the same problems as other high schools. There are different cliques who all maintain their own prejudices. However, these kids are able to murder, maim, and torture anyone they don’t like. Those kinds of abilities definitely magnify the hatred certain people can hold because it can lead to violent consequences. In the same interview, Feldsott said the decision to incorporate these elements into the show had nothing with being “edgy” but a way to tackle bigger discussions.

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"“It’s more about, what are the consequences of that? … The way that we look at the school is really a metaphor for how we look at all these institutions and systems, and the relationship dynamics that push good kids towards a darker side or towards an ugliness in the world.”"

However, Brandy (Siobhan Williams) will probably be the most controversial character on the show. Brandy is a major force within the Dixie Gang, a group of Neo-Nazis and meth dealers, who aren’t the biggest fans of some of their more diverse classmates. She’s manipulative and hateful, spewing quite a few racist terms throughout the season. Deadly Class doesn’t pull any punches with her character, especially because book creator Rick Remender said she stemmed from his own experience of racism when he moved to Arizona during his childhood.

In the first episode, we also get to see some comic book art used for flashbacks. Feldsott confirms the series does use Wes Craig’s artwork (he does the art for the comics) as a way to honor the source material. Not to mention, Craig also did all of the art from Marcus’ notebook specifically for the television show. Based on Feldsott’s comments to Collider, it also seems like Craig’s illustrations could pop up quite a bit in the series.

"“You’ll see frames that are pulled out of the comic book. There’s a lot of reverence paid to the comic book, which is kind of our bible.”"

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Using the comic art as a way to show flashbacks is actually a great idea, especially because it allows us to see exactly how Marcus has processed his past. The first episode uses the art to show how his parents died, a horrific situation made only slightly easier to watch thanks to the artwork. But as a young child, viewing it as art rather than real is a compelling coping mechanism for Marcus.

Deadly Class premieres on January 16 on SyFy. Be sure to check back here for a recap of the pilot later that night.

Are you excited for the new show? Be sure to tell us in the comments below!