We all know how it feels when our favorite television show is canceled. It’s awful knowing that the time spent investing ourselves in the show’s story and characters has all been for nothing and we will never get the closure we would like. Thankfully, there are a few shows that get enough time to wrap up their main story threads so that some sense of closure can be given. One of those shows canceled before its time was Jericho – a show about a small Midwestern town that finds itself cut off from the rest of the United States after unknown forces wipe out 23 American cities.
The series follows the residents as they deal with day-to-day life and how they find themselves at the forefront of a menacing conspiracy. After a superb first season, it was axed by the production company, but thanks to a massive fan campaign, Jericho was brought back for a truncated second season. The series was canceled for good after season 2 concluded, and the story was wrapped up well enough that closure was felt – even though the ending was begging for more development into what could come next.
After its second cancellation, Jericho had many champions who fought for its return. In the past few years, Gwen, manager of the the Save Jericho! campaign, has overseen the campaign’s 20k plus Facebook fan page and website, both of which are constantly updated. She also runs the Jericho Rangers fan table at various comic conventions and has even been able to secure celebrity appearances at the table from the show’s stars.
Many thought that Jericho’s time had marched by, but then news broke that Devil’s Due Publishing would create a six issue Season 3 comic book series, which was later compiled into a graphic novel in 2011. Needless to say, the graphic novel was a major hit and according to series executive producer, Dan Shotz it was reprinted over six times. Due to the high sales, the series was then continued with a Season 4 graphic novel (now through IDW) which also saw great success. There are plans for a Season 5 graphic novel, but the book has been delayed due to negotiations over the license.
What made these graphic novels so popular? The answer is multi-faceted, but it’s certainly in part thanks to the fans of the show who are extremely passionate about the Jericho universe and its characters. Their enthusiasm has led to the series winning many online polls for “Best Show to Un-Cancel” and becoming a highly acclaimed and rated show on the streaming sites like Netflix and Amazon (where the series has a solid 5 star rating).
Another reason the graphic novels became so popular and gave new life to Jericho is the quality of the work. Both graphic novels were developed and written by Shotz, who truly loves this series. His writing is crisp and to the point and does not over burden the reader. The work of the art team – Andrew Currie, Erfan Fajar, Claudia Balboni, Min Wu and Lisa Jackson – is very nicely balanced with rich colors that draws the eyes in. It was also helpful that all the actors consented to having their likeness used in the books, so there was no annoying character image replacement. All around, having the story team headed by Shotz and the original actors likenesses gave a unified front to the endeavor that the fans certainly embraced.
I spoke with Gwen of the Save Jericho! campaign about the potential for the series continuing in either TV or movie form and the effect of the graphic novels. “There is great potential for a Jericho continuation,” she said, “The genre is still hot and we still getting new Jericho fans. The Save Jericho! Facebook Page has over 20,000 fans and when I took it over in 2008 there were 11,000. The Page started climbing upward AFTER the release of the first comic.”
“The continuation of the Jericho story is what the fans have focused on since the continuation was announced in 2009. The slogan I used on the first promo material at the Jericho Fan Table was ‘Jericho, the story continues…’. I still tell that to the new fans and they are still buying the graphic novels! Without the graphic novels, the Jericho fandom would have dwindled away.
“There is no question about it – the comics/graphic novels became the focus of the Save Jericho movement and kept the Jericho fandom from dying. Hopefully, the sale figures have shown the studio executives that there is still a Jericho audience.”
If you have not yet watched Jericho or read the graphic novels, I would encourage you to check them out. They are filled with rich characters, thrilling plots and a nostalgic feel that most TV shows don’t have any more. If you are already a fan or a new one join the Save Jericho! movement, you can check out these links below and help bring Jericho back!