Other Nexus Graphica Columns
For more information, you can try the following:
Geek Confidential: Echoes from the 21st Century
Joe R. Lansdale
Atomic Chili: The Illustrated Joe R. Lansdale
"Bob the Dinosaur Goes To Disneyland" comic
Mysterius the Unfathomable
Recent Books of Interest
Mysterius the Unfathomable Written by Jeff Parker, Art by Tom Fowler (Wildstorm)
During the past decade, mainstream comics have taken themselves way too seriously. Thankfully,
Parker and Fowler put the fun back in funny book. The ageless Mysterius, stage magician/conjurer/sorcerer,
recruits a young alt-week newspaper reporter as his new sidekick after things run a muck at séance. The
duo journey throughout the planes of existence and the equally strange worlds of modern day New York
and Boston. Fowler's Jack Davis-inspired art perfectly complements Parker's goofy, societal-mocking
tale. Complete with the extant portion of the "lost" 1930s text adventure from Diabolical Tales.
Afrodisiac by Jim Rugg & Brian Maruca (Adhouse)
Rugg and Maruca survey the decades long existence of the baddest, black hero of them all,
Afrodisiac. By using a variety of art styles and storytelling methods, the duo provide a fascinating
chronicle of the changing superhero and the black identity in comics. The gorgeous volume includes
covers (with coffee stains, creases, and random pen markings), toy advertisements, and even a promo
for the animated series. Some of the stories are complete, some not. Through frequent origin
changes -- Alan Deashler gets his powers from a deal with the devil, nuclear waste, an old beat up
stick (his "pimp stick"), and a top secret government program (he was a skinny white kid before the
experiments) -- and a wide of range of genres from adventure to super hero to horror to romance, Rugg
and Maruca manage to craft a cohesive story in this extraordinary graphic novel.
Buffalo Speedway Volume 1 by Yehudi Mercado (SuperMercado)
On June 17th 1994, the Rockets battle the Knicks in the NBA Finals, America hosts the World Cup,
and OJ Simpson leads the LAPD on a slow speed chase. These events combine to create the perfect storm
for Houston pizza delivery. That one day in a city of over 3 million people, everyone stays home,
watches the TV, and orders pizza. Accurately compared to Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle,
Clerks, and Do the Right Thing, Buffalo Speedway chronicles the unusual tribulations
of the delivery drivers from Turbo Pizza, Houston's last independent pizza place. The talented
Mercado's humorous observations and insights are only marred by the fact that this volume ends mid-story.
Things have been a bit busy here at the Texas branch of Nexus Graphica. Rather than leave you
without a new column, I'm presenting the first digital version of an essay that originally appeared in
my 2003 collection Geek Confidential: Echoes from the 21st Century.
Dancing with Inflatable Dinosaurs
adapt v.t. To make suitable to requirements or conditions; adjust or modify fittingly.1
adaptation n. Something produced by adapting.2
Lewis Shiner showed me how to write a comic book script, and I decided the best way to practice was to translate a
story I knew and loved for comics. One of my first comic scripts was an adaptation of Ray
Bradbury's "Homecoming." Don't go looking for it. My adaptation only ever existed in script form and was never
actually produced as a comic story. It was an interesting exercise (and one I recommend to any fledgling comic
book writer). I learned a lot about the difference between prose and comic stories. How the pacing and story
structures are different, the rhythm of good dialogue, determining which dialogue to keep and what to lose. Since
comics are a visual medium, comic stories flow from image to image. This presented an interesting challenge for a
poetic writer like Bradbury. I didn't keep the script, but I remember being pleased with the outcome.
It wasn't too soon afterwards that I got the chance to edit my first adaptation. Carlos Kastro adapted
Lewis Shiner's disturbing love story "Scales" for my anthology Modern
Perversity.3 I had no money for the creators, and knew that Shiner didn't
have time to produce something original for me. Using an existing story in a new format was the perfect way
to involve Shiner. Luckily for me, Kastro nailed the adaptation and ten years later, I'm still proud of
that one.4 I learned a valuable lesson: one of the best way to include "name"
talent when there is little or no money is to adapt something that already exists.
Many years passed before my chance to write my own adaptation came. A small press in California was
producing the second issue of their horror anthology System Shock, and they asked Joe R. Lansdale
if they could adapt his story "Pilots."5 Lansdale agreed, but on one
condition -- he was to pick the adaptator. You can probably guess where this is going.
I adapted the story in nothing flat, then it was illustrated by Tom Foxmarnick.6 Lansdale
felt the comic version was superior to the originally story. Talk about your compliment.
Lansdale so liked my views of his work that I went on to adapt three more stories and to
edit Atomic Chili: The Illustrated Joe R. Lansdale. This Mojo Press book contained all of
Lansdale's adaptations up to that point including a new one produced just for that volume.
My latest adaptation was "Bob the Dinosaur Goes To Disneyland." Originally planned for a never completed
anthology, Lansdale and the artist Doug Potter allowed me to run it online at RevolutionSF while I
was the fiction editor.
Lansdale calls this one of his "popcorn stories." Apparently, there is this batch of "potent" popcorn
that Lansdale's wife Karen makes.7 He thinks she whips it up special when
he is stuck and in need of an idea. When he eats the popcorn, he gets some of the weirdest dreams. Many
of these became some of Lansdale's oddest stories including "Bob."
I wanted to adapt "Bob" since the first moment I laid eyes on it.8 The
idea of an inflatable dinosaur coming to life and demanding that it goes to Disneyland is... well...
absurd. And ludicrous. And pretty damn funny. It lends itself to the illustrated form.
As far as the Lansdale stories that I worked on, this one was fairly easy. As I recall, I wrote the
script in a few hours as compared to "The Steel Valentine"9 which took me
over a week. "Valentine" is a more layered story and is a fine example of the Edgar-winning crime
writer that Lansdale was to become. It was difficult to capture the nuances of the story on a
comics page. Artist Marc Erickson and I did just that, but it wasn't easy.
When Doug Potter finished illustrating "Bob," Lansdale had only one request. He asked we add the last
sentence from the story. I'm not quite sure why I didn't use it in the adaptation, but Lansdale was
correct. It read much better that way.
Be it as an editor or writer, the idea of working with a writer I admire and respect to develop their
works into an illustrated form is challenging and fun. In all but one of my previous comic book
anthologies10, I had at least one adaptation. I imagine future ones will as well.
Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, 2nd ed., s.v. "adapt"
The first anthology I edited. It was published by Blackbird comics in 1992.
I don't like everything I've edited or written. There are many occasions when I
looked at something and wonder what the hell was I thinking?
Co-written with Dan Lowry
The second issue of System Shock never came out, so "Pilots" eventually appeared in Atomic Chili.
Karen claims there is nothing special about the popcorn and it's all in Lansdale's head.
"Godzilla's Twelve Step Program" is another Lansdale that screams to be adapted.
A Lansdale adaptation for Weird Business
The Big Bigfoot Book