Comic Review: Harry Houdini

This is the life story of Ehrich Weiss. If you don’t recognise this man’s name, that is because the world came to know him as the one and only Harry Houdini.

George Bernard Shaw once remarked that Harry Houdini is the third most famous name in history after Jesus Christ and Sherlock Holmes. While that might be a bold and debatable statement, there is no doubt that Houdini is the most famous magician to have ever lived. Almost a hundred years after his death, his name is still synonymous with death-defying stunts and unimaginable escapes.

His ability to get out of seemingly impossible situations, along with his knack of dealing with the public and the press, made him a legend in his own time. Some of his most notable escapes, which still cannot be explained, were the Mirror Handcuff Challenge, the Milk Can Escape, the Chinese Water Torture Cell and the Suspended Straitjacket Escape.

How did a poor, uneducated boy rise out of poverty and become the greatest illusionist of the 20th century? The story of Houdini’s life is not only entertaining, but also educational. His struggles in life and his determination to succeed are a lesson to all.

For such a famous figure in history and for someone who finds performance artists, especially magicians, fascinating I really do not know that much about Harry Houdini. That is until I read this graphic novel and now I know a bit more.

I love it when something you read is not only enjoyable, but it can inform and educate you as well, such as Harry Houdini has. I haven’t been able to read that much lately due to writing, but when I was able to read it I found it quite well written and presented, enough for it to draw me in. I am also a sucker for biographies, but it does have a lot to do with how it is told and who the figure is.

I think the art suits the story and time setting as well. The figures are well drawn, the panels are neat which I think suits the time period, and I really like the interspersion of journal entries in the story. The story is told in Harry Houdini’s perspective, but the journal entries are in another’s perspective which I think gives it a nice touch.

Given those aspects of it and the fact I learnt several new things about Houdini himself (such as how he died and it’s true I didn’t know it was from a ruptured appendix), and the inclusion of explaining several magic tricks with fun factoids at the end make it an enjoyable graphic novel to read, especially if you are a Houdini fan.

  • Created By: C.E.L. Welsh and Lalit Kumar Singh
  • Genre: Biographical
  • Comic or Graphic: Graphic Novel
  • Published: 2009 by Campfire
  • Adapted/Based: Harry Houdini
  • Rating Out of Five: 5
  • Challenges: The Two Month Comic Challenge

Review: The Time Machine Graphic Novel

What would you do if you could travel in time?

An intrepid adventurer, known simply as the Time Traveller, meets his friends for dinner one night. During the conversation, he baffles them with his wild ideas about moving forwards or backwards in time. His claims are met with disbelief. Even when he proves his theory with a real-life experiment, his associates simply claim that he is a trickster – a magician. Yet, a week later, he enthralls his acquaintances yet again. He tells a story so unbelievable that it can’t be true… or can it?

The Time Traveller’s tale tells of our courageous explorer’s discoveries in another time. Does he find intelligence and technology beyond his wildest dreams? Or is the world filled with dreaded monsters? There’s only one way to find out…

It is possible I could be bias with this one as I am a Time Machine and H.G. Wells fan, but then again I think it is safe to say this is one of my new favourite ones regardless of that. The story is a great one and you can’t go wrong with a story like that, but you can go wrong in re-telling and I did not experience that at all with this adaptation.

I found myself going from page to page, and ultimately from cover to cover, in a very quick space of time because it was a hard one to put down. The story had all the elements that were the most important and were delivered really well. Plus the art not only matched the different tones, but I felt it also enhanced the story.

Like I mentioned, this is my new favourite, so don’t be surprised that I’m singing praises. I do like singing praises with favourites and who doesn’t? Back to the art though, I’m really impressed with the use of colour, the capture of emotion from the men’s disbelief at the time machine itself to the time traveller’s loss, and the layout. It really is well done and suitable to the story.

I would recommend it as a story to read regardless of it being an adaptation and also because it is an adaptation, especially if you can appreciate them and good ones more so.

NB: Some of the images posted look as if they have cross-hatching (the criss-cross pattern over the top of them). That’s not actually the case with the originals which these are scanned from. I discovered it’s from the imaging program on my laptop when I was adjusting their size for uploading.

  • Created By: Lewis Helfand and Rajesh Nagulakonda
  • Genre: Science Fiction, Classic Literature
  • Comic or Graphic: Graphic Novel
  • Published: 2008 by Campfire
  • Adapted/Based: The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
  • Rating Out of Five: 5
  • Challenges: The Two Month Comic Challenge

Review: Frankenstein

Man has long had the power to take life, but what will happen when he learns to give it?

Intrigued by this question, young Victor Frankenstein – a devoted student of science – becomes obsessed with the idea of conjuring life out of ‘lifeless matter’. Using his formidable skills in chemistry and other sciences, Victor begins to assemble a being from scavenged and stolen body parts.

Once he has fathered a son created by his own science, Victor rejects the hideous creature he has brought to life. Eventually, the creature mounts a campaign of revenge against his creator, struggling to be recognised as a thinking, feeling being.

And so begins the battle between father and son…

I’ve read the original of Frankenstein, but when it comes to remembering the story all I remember is the gist of it and a few other things, not the actual chronological storyline. I think that is also coloured by a lot of movie adaptations I’ve watched so I can’t really say if it’s a true to story adaptation or not. I believe it is, going from a very vague recollection, and I do remember some lines which have been used as well.

Basically I’m reviewing the graphic novel for the graphic novel and not the original influence. There is one comparison I wish to make towards the original one though. The original bored me and annoyed me, even though I enjoy the story of Frankenstein, Mary Shelley’s novel did not do it for me. It doesn’t matter if I read the original or watch/read an adaptation though when it comes to my view of Victor Frankenstein because I always thought he was a nitwit. A moaning nitwit. And that Frankenstein’s monster was far more intelligent than his creator. Granted he turned to a life of murder because of being mishandled and that’s not necessarily an excuse, but I still feel he is far more intelligent than Victor.

Victor angers me as a person because he goes about creating this creature only to immediately decide he is a monster because he is not aesthetically appealing to him. Some people might put that to metaphor or have some sort of explanation that it means more so than that, but really? When it comes down to it, his reaction is pretty instantaneous and it’s really pathetic. He does not know what is going on inside this creator. Does he try to communicate with it? Does he try to find out what it feels? No, he doesn’t. What a moron. And I think we can all learn something from that, in that if you judge someone by their looks or how they move, then you are a moron (sorry to go on, Victor Frankenstein infuriates me. I was going to cut that out or at least cut it down, but I thought I’d leave it there in case anyone else has an opinion on it).

The reason I want to mention that is because in this graphic novel I still believe Victor is a nitwit and it shows to me that the monster is still far more intelligent, but it’s not painful in it’s delivery for me. The story is an engaging one and it’s delivered as such. I really liked how the panels were placed on some of the pages and in some scenes, I feel that added to the story.

I am somewhat torn with the art because in some panels when the characters are further in the distance or smaller their features are ill defined and sometimes they don’t have much facial features, but then up close they are very well defined so I don’t know how to take that. On one hand it bothers me because I love a well defined face even if it is smaller. I think that is very important in all art. But on the other hand I feel it is very artistic because the faces are well defined up close when they are larger and the art is reminiscent of water colours to me. It’s reminiscent of water colours and impressionism to a degree, a small degree, but it’s there.

Other than that I rather enjoyed it,  not just for the story, but for the small touches as well. In the beginning you get introduced to the characters with a full page dedicated to them, then there is an explanation of what Scarlet Fever is when it is mentioned, and I like the inclusion of Crypt Capers in the back. Crypt Capers shares information on body snatchers and what was going on with medical science in the 19th century when procuring bodies for dissection was big business.

You can find this graphic novel, amongst all their others, on their website. The banner and the link further below will take you there.

  • Created By: Lloyd S. Wagner and Naresh Kumar
  • Genre: Horror, Classic Literature
  • Comic or Graphic: Graphic Novel
  • Published: 2010 by Campfire
  • Adapted/Based: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
  • Rating Out of Five: 4
  • Challenges: The Two Month Comic Challenge

Review: Alice In Wonderland Graphic Novel

Alice was just an ordinary girl – imaginative and curious and thirsting for adventure. She was an ordinary girl, that is, until she found herself instantly transported to a place that was anything but ordinary.

After diving down a rabbit hole, young Alice encounters a magical world ruled by a vicious Queen. It is a world where anything can happen; a world filled with a talking caterpillar, a puppy as big as a house, and a Cheshire cat that can disappear and reappear in the blink of an eye. Are these colourful characters real? And if so, how will Alice ever find her way back home?

I’ve been approached by Campfire India to review some of their published works (I’ll be setting up a page especially for linking to reviews and with more information about them as soon as NaNoWriMo is over) and the first one I decided to read was their adaptation of Lewis Carrolls’ Alice In Wonderland.

Believe it or not I’ve loved the story of Alice since I was young, but I can’t stand the original. The original is badly written and Alice comes across as a wilful, rude little girl. Yet at the same time I love the concept and really believe that Wonderland and Alice’s tale should be best experienced as a visual one so naturally I love the idea of a graphic novel.

My first impressions just by holding it and flicking through the pages (a habit I reserve for graphic novels) were that the graphics were well done and the novel itself is rather good quality.

I reminded myself in the beginning that this novel is directed towards a younger audience and I think it would capture their attention. There is only one real problem I have with the graphics and that’s with the Cheshire Cat. When we first meet the cat it’s drawn as a plump cat without any markings, but the next time we come across it, it looks a tad underfed. After that it’s back to being plump, but this time with markings.

Other than that I didn’t find anything wrong with the graphics at all. The colours are lovely and bright, not only representing Wonderland, but eye catching as well. The graphics help to capture the madness that is Wonderland and I think they capture the expressions of the characters really well also.

As for the story itself, I’ve seen a lot of different adaptations of Alice and of course adaptations aren’t going to include everything even though they should with Alice because there’s not much to the book, but I found that the dialogue and sentencing was adopted from the book quite well. They’ve included a lot of different aspects of Alice’s height change, the shrinking fan and her difficulty with eating the mushroom being a part of that. There’s also the talking and running with the animals in the beginning and her time with the Mock Turtle and Gryphon which isn’t always included in other adaptations.

To top it all of there is information on the author, the creators are introduced with the line ‘ Sitting around the campfire, telling the story, were…’ and lastly a ‘This belongs to’ section which I think is all quite apt for a young audience.

  • Created By: Lewis Helfand, Rajesh Nagulakonda, and K.G. Prasanth
  • Genre: Classic Literature, Children’s
  • Comic or Graphic: Graphic Novel
  • Published: 2009 by Campfire
  • Adapted/Based: Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  • Rating Out of Five: 4
  • Challenges: The Two Month Comic Challenge