Other Nexus Graphica Columns
For more information, you can try the following:
The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare And How It Changed America
Classics Illustrated Junior
Jack Lake Productions
Marvel Classic Comics #14: The War Of The Worlds
H. G. Wells
War of the Worlds
Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed
Conan in comics
Robert E. Howard
DC Science Fiction Graphic Novel
Raymond E. Feist
Raymond Feist's Magician Apprentice
Orson Scott Card
Orson Scott Card at Marvel
Laurel K. Hamilton
Laurel K. Hamilton's Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter graphic novels
George R. R. Martin
George R. R. Martin's Hedge Knight II
Dabel Brothers Productions
Dean Koontz's Frankenstein: Prodigal Son
Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files
George R.R. Martin's Wild Cards
Dark Wraith of Shannara
In Odd We Trust
Outlander graphic novel
Del Rey manga
The Lone Ranger
City of Others
Recent Books of Interest
The Lone Ranger by Brett Matthews (writer) and Sergio Cariello (artist) (Dynamite)
This handsome volume once again relates the origin of the famed lawman. Using ideas expressed in the 1990s Joe
R. Lansdale-penned Lone Ranger comic, Matthews wisely views Tonto and not the eponymous hero as the brains of the
duo. Cariello's art effectively captures the period in a realistic manner. Complete with gorgeous John Cassaday covers
and designs, this book successfully introduces the mythic western hero for a new generation of fans.
City of Others by Steve Niles and Bernie Wrightson (Dark Horse)
After a decade, the legendary horror artist, Wrightson returns to what his bio calls "his favorite medium." He
co-creates (with writer Niles) and draws the adventures of the remorseless killer Stosh Bludowski. The protagonist
encounters a race of vampires and zombies called the Other, who exist to defeat an even more nefarious immortal. Characters
with no emotions are very difficult to write and Niles doesn't rise to the occasion. Thankfully, Wrightson's art,
magnificently colored by José Villarrubia, screams off the gruesome, often blood-splattered pages.
Biff-Bam-Pow! #1 by Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dyer (Amaze Ink/ SLG)
The husband-and-wife team, taking time away from their television-writing careers, produces some of the most
entertaining and goofy comics being published today. With stories starring One Punch Goldberg, Kid Blastoff, Billy Vs.
Super-Rad, and Nutsy Monkey, Dorkin and Dyer explore different aspects of comicdom and society, always with their tongues
planted firmly in cheek. Rendered in an animated, almost classical cartoon style, the stories in Biff-Bam-Pow offer
Of Adaptations and Mushroom Growth
Copyright © 2008 Rick Klaw
On May 8, 1940, The Chicago Daily News published Sterling North's influential condemnation of comic
books "A National Disgrace (And a challenge to American Parents)." As recounted in David Hadju's The Ten-Cent Plague: The
Great Comic-Book Scare And How It Changed America (Farrar, Straus And Giroux, 2008), North calls comics "a poisonous
mushroom growth," calling upon parents and educators to "break the 'comics' magazines." And those who don't would be "guilty
of criminal negligence." He claims that "the antidote to the 'comic' magazine poison can be found in any library or good
bookstore." I wonder what North would think that in 2008 most libraries and bookstores gladly sell "these lurid publications"
and that the line between prose and comics literature has never been closer.
The first and perhaps most famous line devoted to exclusively bridging the perceived intellectual chasm between prose
literature and comics, Classics Illustrated produced graphic versions of
classic stories. Published between 1941 and 1971,1
these graphic stories set the standard for comic book literary adaptation. A second title was spun out of the successful
series. Featuring fairy tales and folk tales for younger readers, Classics Illustrated Junior ran for 77 issues
from 1953 to 1971. Many of the top names in the field worked on these comics including Jack Abel, Dik Browne, Jack Kirby, Reed
Crandall, Gray Morrow, Roy Krenkel, Graham Ingels, and Al Williamson. In 1990, First Comics, producing original adaptations, and
then in 1997 Acclaim, reprinting the original series in digest size complete with reference notes, attempted to resurrect the
long defunct Classics Illustrated. Both endeavors failed financially. Recently Canadian publisher Jack Lake Productions
revived the Junior line and, in the US, Papercutz began producing original adaptations as pocket-sized books under
the Classics Illustrated banner.
For me, the intertwining of the mediums began in 1976 when I bought Marvel Classic Comics #14, my first exposure
to H.G. Wells' legendary novel The War of the Worlds. Attracted by the dynamic Gil Kane and Dave Cockrum cover, the
Chris Claremont script, and outstanding Yong Montano art thrilled my eight-year-old mind. Even before I had read one of his
prose books, H.G. Wells became and remains one of my favorite authors.
Of course not all comic adaptations fall within the so-called literary canon. The EC interpretations of classic Ray Bradbury
tales leap to mind. As a teenager, I recall reading these versions even as I devoured his prose works such as The Martian
Chronicles and The October Country. It wasn't until a few months ago thanks to Brian Cronin's informative
column Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed that I learned the truth behind the EC tales. In the March 13, 2008 column,
Cronin revealed all.2
Talk about a diplomatic way for Bradbury to handle a potentially ugly situation.
The situation began in 1951, when William Gaines and Al Feldstein, in a rush to come up with an original
story for one of their numerous magazines, decided to simply swipe a Ray Bradbury story.
The story, "A Strange Undertaking...," a swipe of Bradbury's "The Handler," appeared in Haunt of Fear #6.
Feldstein did a couple more swipes after that, but it was one he did in 1952's Weird Fantasy #13 that caught Ray
Bradbury's eye (and, presumably, a bit of his ire). Bradbury, however, decided to play it a different
way, by sending the following brilliant letter to Gaines in 1952:
Gaines was no fool -- he quickly sent the money, along with a cordial response, and pretty soon, Bradbury was authorizing
EC Comics to do OFFICIAL adaptations of his stories, and that became a draw for their science fiction titles, so long as
Just a note to remind you of an oversight. You have not as yet sent on the check for $50.00 to cover the use
of secondary rights on my two stories THE ROCKET MAN and KALEIDOSCOPE... I feel this was probably overlooked in the general
confusion of office work, and look forward to your payment in the near future.
Since the 50s, numerous publishers have produced science fiction, fantasy, and horror adaptations. Perhaps the best known
and most successful prose-to-comics series was Marvel's Conan the Barbarian, which helped launch Robert E. Howard's
legendary hero into the public consciousness. In recent years, Dark Horse acquired the license and rejuvenated the tired
character. During the 70s and 80s, industry leaders DC and Marvel both offered lines devoted to sf and fantasy
interpretations.3 Currently, Marvel once again
publishes a variety of classic4 and
contemporary5 prose works in comic book editions, though often with a new twist. Prose writers such as
Laurel K. Hamilton and George R.R. Martin both contribute original graphic-only tales set in their individual established
universes: Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter and Songs of Fire and Ice, respectively.
Since 2001, the Dabel Brothers Productions (DB Pro) adapted literary works by Orson Scott Card, Raymond E. Feist, Robert
Jordan, Tad Williams, Richard A. Knaak and Robert Silverberg, putting them at the forefront of the prose-to-comics
business. Founded by four brothers, they hire creative personal and then use established publishers to distribute the
material. In November 2007, the Dabel Brothers announced a distribution deal with Del Rey for three franchises: Dean
Koontz's Frankenstein: Prodigal Son,
Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files, and George R.R. Martin's Wild Cards.
This arrangement further established Del Rey's already prominent role as the sf industry leader in this
regard. Editor-in-chief Betsy Mitchell described teaming up with the Dabels "as a natural extension of the many illustrated
projects, Del Rey has already published and the graphic novel adaptations they currently have in the pipeline." Last March,
Del Rey released their first original graphic novel, Dark Wraith of Shannara, written by Terry Brooks and adapted by
Robert Napton.6 June will see the release of the Dean Koontz and Queenie Chan, manga-style prequel to
Koontz's Odd Thomas series, In Odd We Trust. Future original graphic novels include a Diana Gabaldon-scripted
Outlander tale and an adaptation that Mitchell couldn't announce yet but confidently promises that "it will blow
you away." On top of that, Del Rey's manga line, in a joint venture with Marvel, is producing a manga-influenced original
Wolverine graphic novel. Mitchell, a long time sf prose editor, views this next stage in science fiction story telling with
optimism. "The graphic novel enable tales to be told in a new and exciting way. They appeal to those [book] fans who have
always enjoyed comics and appreciate the visual method of storytelling."
1 Original material stopped in 1962 with #167 Faust.
2 http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2008/03/13/comic-book-urban-legends-revealed-146/ Accessed May 29, 2008.
3 Most famously, Marvel's World Unknown (8 issues, 1973-1974) and Unknown Worlds of
Science Fiction (seven issues, 1975-1976) and the DC Science Fiction Graphic Novel series (seven volumes, 1985-1987).
4 Under the Marvel Illustrated line.
5 Raymond E. Feist's Magician Apprentice and Orson Scott Card's Red Prophet
6 Debuting at #5 on the Bookscan graphic novel bestseller list.
Rick Klaw produced four years of the popular monthly SF Site
column "Geeks With Books", and supplied countless reviews,
essays, and fiction for a variety of publications including,
The Austin Chronicle,
The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy, Moving Pictures
RevolutionSF, King Kong Is Back!, Conversations
With Texas Writers, Farscape Forever, Electric Velocipede, Cross Plains
Universe, and Steampunk. MonkeyBrain Books published the collection of his essays, reviews,
and other things Klaw, Geek
Confidential: Echoes From the 21st Century.
He currently blogs at The Geek Curmudgeon
and Dark Forces.