Comic Review: The War of The Worlds

It’s 2005, and Earth is invaded by a seemingly unstoppable Martian army of tripods and flying machines.

As seen from the viewpoint of one American family, this is a story of human survival that will resonate with today’s readers, just as the original galvanized its audience more than a century ago

I must admit that by the time I started reading this I was a tad frustrated. I hadn’t been able to lose myself deeply in a novel for several weeks or more and it was getting to me. Plus I’m a H.G. Wells fan and one of my favourite stories is The War of The Worlds so at the beginning of this one I was already rolling my eyes at it. The first thing I found myself asking in a huff was, ‘Why does this have to be set in modern times, and why is the main character driving a sporty convertible. Why, oh why?’ Yes that’s what I asked myself. I really was not impressed when I came across that very early on, but I forced myself to keep reading even though that had turned me off. You never know when it could turn out differently to what you expect.

To be fair when it comes to the art work, I think I can be a bit spoilt when it comes to reading graphic novels. I never grew up or read a lot of comics, my main exposure has been artsy graphic novels and Heavy Metal magazines so the art is really plain and generic to me. It’s a typical black and white comic art rather than anything else, but in a way that is good because it leaves me to focus more on the story then on the art itself and getting lost. And yet there are some really cool artistic panels in there, mainly the ones that have action instead of dialogue and take up an entire page.

I don’t remember there being aircraft along with the alien pods in the original story and nor do I remember there being red weeds and poisonous gas, speaking of which; are white surgical masks going to save you from a poisonous cloud of gas?

Ok, I shouldn’t be too mean, I’m mostly taking my frustration out on a mediocre version of an awesome story, but it isn’t all bad. It is interesting to see a new twist of the story and how they tell it from yet another perspective, but I would really have liked the story to follow the original plot.

All I can really say is that the art is not completely typical art with a bit of artistic flair, it is well adapted to a more modern time, and it is a good novel for a quick little read.

  • Created By: Stephen Stern and Arne Starr
  • Genre: Science Fiction, War
  • Comic or Graphic: Graphic Novel
  • Published: 2005 by Best Sellers Illustrated
  • Adapted/Based: The War of The Worlds by H.G. Wells
  • Rating Out of Five: 3
  • Challenges: The Two Month Comic Challenge

Comic Review: Dracula

Before the dozens of night stalkers slain by Buffy, there was the first and the best: Dracula. And now everyone’s favorite bloodsucker is back, and captured in a thrillingly told, spine-tingling graphic novel.

Originally written by Bram Stoker in 1897, Dracula gave the world one of literature’s most compelling characters. Michael Mucci translates the tale and Ben Caldwell adds action-packed images—with meticulous attention paid to the finer details in each piece of art, from facial expressions to the historical accuracy of costuming, architecture, and heraldry.

For years I read and watched adaptations of Bram Stoker’s Dracula before I even read the book. Beforehand I did not have the original to compare to, but now that I do, I still find myself enjoying them and not being overly critical, if I am critical at all sometimes.

This adaptation I couldn’t help myself though because even though the amount of the original story used is far better than expected there’s still something to be desired. It isn’t so much what has been cut out from the original, but what has been left out between panels so the story doesn’t flow smoothly in places, leaving it to feel disjointed and even confusing at times. I know I have mentioned in previous reviews for comics that I can get easily confused, but after doing my comic reading challenge and nearing the end of it, I’ve learnt to appreciate the difference between my problem of following and a graphic novels’ lack of seamlessness.

Other than that it isn’t a badly done graphic novel. It is aimed at a younger audience and that would probably explain the art. There isn’t anything wrong with the art, in fact it is pretty good, but for me it is too cute. Not only for an old school horror story, but for Dracula. That doesn’t feel right to me and I also feel that the story, and any sinister aspects it may have had, wasn’t at it’s full impact because of it. But if the art is done the way it was to help lesson the horror of it then it has achieved what it was meant to do, which is cater to a younger audience with an intriguing story.

  • Genre: Horror, Supernatural
  • Comic or Graphic: Graphic Novel
  • Published: 2008 by Sterling Publishing
  • Adapted From: Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • Rating Out of Five: 3
  • Challenges: The Two Month Comic Challenge

Comic Review: The Great Gatsby

Because this is an adaptation of a classic and there is no synopsis anywhere on the book I’m going to be sharing the synopsis of the original The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, but my review is only of the graphic novel.

Jay Gatsby is the man who has everything. But one thing will always be out of his reach…Everybody who is anybody is seen at his glittering parties. Day and night his Long Island mansion buzzes with bright young things drinking, dancing and debating his mysterious character. For Gatsby – young, handsome, fabulously rich – always seems alone in the crowd, watching and waiting, though no one knows what for. Beneath the shimmering surface of his life he is hiding a secret: a silent longing that can never be fulfilled. And soon this destructive obsession will force his world to unravel.

I have attempted to read the original of this before, but gave up pretty quickly. In the original the characters were too self absorbed and pompous for me to handle, so when I saw this at the library I decided it was an opportunity to find out what the story was without driving myself up the wall again.

I loved this graphic novel from the moment I picked it up and flicked through it’s pages, but it is not the story I love. It is the art. Nicki Greenberg’s version is told with the use of creatures in the style of a photo album. A glance at that is enough to win me over because I think it really is gorgeous art, a lovely interpretation of these characters, and so well set out. I’ve included a panel, but if you want to see more and learn more about Nicki Greenberg (who is an Australian based artist which I just found out) I’d recommend checking out her website.

As for the story itself, I can’t say if it was a fair adaptation seeing as I have never finished the original, but for someone who has never read the original it is not a bad story. I’m really glad I picked this up because now I get it. I get the story. I understand what it was about which I never would have otherwise. The characters did not grate on my nerves and infuriate me in this adaptation either, the panels helped build an emotional connection, and I found myself wanting to pick it up and not put it down.

I would recommend it if you love art and love a different interpretation to what is usually expected. I would also definitely recommend it if you have tried to read The Great Gatsby, but could not finish it. Especially if you’re like me and the curiosity of what others were on about gets to you.

Comic Review: The Gunslinger Born

The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed. With those words, millions of readers were introduced to Stephen King’s Roland, an implacable gunslinger in search of the enigmatic Dark Tower, powering his way through a dangerous land filled with ancient technology and deadly magic. Now, in a comic book personally overseen by King himself, Roland’s past is revealed.

Sumptuously drawn by Jae Lee and Richard Isanove, adapted by long-time Stephen King expert Robin Furth (author of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower: A Concordance) and scripted by New York Times Best-seller Peter David, this series delves deep into Roland’s origins.

I’ve read the first novel in The Dark Tower series and it must have been all the way back in 2007 because I remember seeing the cover for the graphic novel after I finished reading it and wondering to myself if perhaps I’d enjoy that more.

I pretty much grew up on Stephen King when it comes to my reading background, but I have not read much of his work in several years. Either I overdosed or needed to expand or both, but I was looking forward to his Dark Tower series. I was disappointed with Dark Tower which was upsetting, but I did have high expectations.

Since reading The Gunslinger Born I am considering going back and trying the series out again because the story is an intriguing one. I realise that The Gunslinger Born is Roland’s background (the main character in the Dark Tower series) and it may put a different light on the reading second time around.

Even though the story does have an element of intrigue, with the mix of western meets dark fantasy being very appealing, it wasn’t the story that won me over. It was the art. I absolutely love the artwork in this graphic novel. I’d put posters of that on my wall and would even consider buying the graphic novel for the art alone.

The reason the art was a winning factor instead of the story was because the story felt disjointed to me (I swear sometimes I shouldn’t bother with graphic novels and comics). When I get really tired my brain freaks out and I can lose my way quite a bit, but my brain wasn’t that tired when I was reading it. The story eventually came together and I did know what was going on, but it didn’t feel like it read flowingly. I also didn’t appreciate how the narrator would give you titbits to what was going to happen in order to prepare you for action or travesties or whatever else was coming along.

Otherwise I enjoyed it and I did give it a fair rating, mostly because of the art. I will be reading the rest of the series as well at some point.

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