(VOD/DVD) THE MAXX was a short-lived animated adaptation of Sam Keith’s comic book featured in MTV’s similarly short-lived ODDITIES block and, to this day, remains one of the most faithful — and most intriguing — comic book adaptations ever.
THE MAXX is about a spandex-clad vagrant (The Maxx) who believes himself to be the protector of Julie Winters, a complicated social worker who is being tormented by a man known as Mr. Gone. The Maxx sometimes slips into another realm known as The Outback, where he’s a noble warrior instead of a homeless man in a purple suit. If it sounds slightly ridiculous, well, -comics-, but it’s essentially a hard-boiled vehicle to explore repression and trauma.
While the narrative and characters would be interesting enough on its own, what really makes the series stand out is how it adapted Keith’s extremely stylized artwork and layouts to TV: they essentially ripped the panels from his comic, and -then- animated them. Occasionally they throw in some CGI or live action video footage, but the majority of it is exactly what you would have seen and read in the first twelve issues of the comics. Amazingly, instead of feeling like a hollow recreation, it feels vibrant and thrilling and often even funny.
If Keith’s comic were a lesser work, it might not have translated so well to bizarro late-night 15-minute programming, but instead it feels fresh and audacious, even today. There’s never been anything that looks or feels like THE MAXX, and it’s unlikely there ever will be.
You can watch all 13 episodes in around three hours. It used to be stream via MTV.com (albeit as a very poor transfer) but it’s now it’s only available to purchase via DVD or the usual VOD outlets. However, resourceful folks can find episodes through Vimeo (but you didn’t hear that from me).