REVIEWS OF GRAPHIC CLASSICS: H.G. WELLS
Graphic Classics: H.G. Wells
SCIENCE FICTION CHRONICLE
Wells is the subject of the third volume in a series of graphic and text presentations of the works of a single author. None of these are presented in their entirety, but there are large chunks of text mixed with a profuse assortment of illustrations by Dan O'Neill, Skip Williamson, and many others. The stories include mostly SF such as The War of the Worlds, The Invisible Man, and "The Man Who Could Work Miracles". The illustrations run the gamut from straightforward representation to exaggerated comic book style, and encompass a wide variety of styles. The result is a very interesting and entertaining product. The next volume covers H.P. Lovecraft, which should be equally fascinating.
THE WELLSIAN #26
In the letter accompanying the review-copy of Graphic Classics Volume Three: H.G. Wells, Tom Pomplun, the designer and publisher of the volume, writes, This is the third in a series of books which presents classic literature in comics and heavily-illustrated text for adult readers. Each volume will focus on one writer, with illustration by some of the top artists working today in comics, book illustration and fine arts. The other authors published in the series are Edgar Allan Poe and Arthur Conan Doyle, with H.P. Lovecraft and Jack London to follow shortly.
The volume under review contains interpretations of eleven of Wellss best stories, and an additional story portraying the events surrounding Orson Welless 1938 War of the Worlds broadcast, all in comic-strip format. The stories used in the book are as follows: The Invisible Man (abridged), The Man Who Could Work Miracles (adapted), A Moonlight Fable, The Man with a Nose, In the Abyss (adapted), The Truth about Pyecraft (edited), excerpts from The Time Machine, The Temptation of Harringay, an excerpt from The Desert Daisy, Le Marie Terrible and The Star. The illustrations, being by divers hands, cover several different styles and periods, from Wellss own juvenile drawings for The Desert Daisy and the art nouveau of Shags Le Marie Terrible, to the DC-Comic-style sketches of The War of the Worlds. As several of the stories are edited, adapted or excerpted (while The Star contains no text at all), this book is not for those interested merely in reading Wellss stories. Rather, the book is a pictorial feast of interpretation. It demonstrates just how inspirational Wellss literature remains, providing the subject matter for comics that, far from appearing as retrospectives to an author of the past, are as fresh as any original piece of comic-book storytelling. The volume demonstrates, if anyone requires such a demonstration, Wellss timelessness and contemporaneity some 56 years after his death. The fact that his writings of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries continue to inspire comic-book illustrators, as well as filmmakers, writers, scientists and journalists, at the beginning of the 21st century is a tribute to his craft as an imaginative artist.
The book is introduced by Ray Vukcevich, author of The Man of Maybe Half-a-Dozen Faces (St Martins Press, 2000) and Meet Me in the Moon Room (Small Beer Press, 2001), who reminisces about how he became interested in science fiction, learning of Wells through comic books of the 1950s before discovering the actual bound volumes some years later. The only other text (apart from the stories themselves) is an introduction to The Desert Daisy (anonymous, but presumably penned by Tom Pomplun) in which it is stated H.G. Wells, comic book artist? Among his many other accomplishments, Wells might be credited as one of the earliest practitioners of the form in his illustrated book The Desert Daisy (1879). About that story the introduction presciently comments, While it is clearly a childs fairy tale, The Desert Daisy shows the roots of Wells interest in war and the follies of politics, society, and religion which are explored in greater depth throughout his career.
To many this volume will be simply a curiosity. However, for those who met Wells through science-fiction magazines, this reinterpretation will be a pleasing addition to their bookshelves. It is also a superb introduction to young people of the magic of Wellss stories. A third target group for this edition is graphic artists; there is much contained within this volume to inspire new illustrated editions of Wellss work.
THE TOMB OF DARK DELIGHTS
I cannot think of another science fiction author whose work has made a larger impact on world fiction than H. G. Wells. His tales of imagination have been the catalyst for so much of fantastic fiction, entertainment and speculative thought that it is impossible to imagine a world without Wells. Graphic Classics brings to life yet another rich grouping of artistic interpretations of this brilliant man's work: The Time Machine, The Invisible Man, The War of the Worlds, as well as lesser known but equally fantastical stories: "In the Abyss", "The Truth about Pyecraft", and others. You must read and see "The Desert Daisy", an excerpt from a book written and ably illustrated by Wells himself as a child! Wonders abound in this volume, TombRats. Illustrations by Dan O'Neill, Brad Teare, Skip Williamson, Alex Nino, Shag and more. TombKeeper's highest recommendation.
Creature Feature ©D. Dyszel 2003
GRAPHIC CLASSICS VOL. 3 spotlights HG WELLS (JUN02 2281, pg. 291, $9.95). What's interesting here is the line-up of cartoonists, some of whom are rarely sighted nowadays, such as undergrounders Dan O'Neill and Shary Flenniken, who scandalised Disney as members of the infamous Air Pirates; M.K. Brown, a great obscure female cartoonist who's like Rick Geary (also in this volume) with a dash of Bill Plympton; and Milton Knight, whose misogynist Fleischertoon-style HUGO was one of Fantagraphics' first books.
Another shot at the Classics Illustrated books. In this case it is H.G. Wells. Science Fiction for the masses done by such greats as Alex Nino, and John Pierad. In addition there are lots of artists that you may not have heard about but are still excellent. Fan boys didnt do this. Visit www.graphicclassics.com for samples from all the artists. Youll love what you see.
A bunch of adaptations of Well's works by a number of different artists. There's an abridged version of "The Invisible Man" illustrated by Alex Nino, illustrations for "The Time Machine" accompanied only by paragraphs, and versions of several short stories. One story is a light and smiling adaptation of the Orson Welles version of "War of the Worlds", written by Antonella Caputo and drawn by Nick Miller, and it's probably my favorite piece in the book.
Too many of the pieces aren't especially graphical, though, which makes the book a disappointment despite a few successes. Several pieces are just the text of short stories accompanied by illustrations; about the only such text-based adaptation that I liked was "Le Mari Terrible" by Shag, where the seemingly eccentric choice of 1950s-style tiki graphics is the perfect complement to Wells' Victorian prose. The graphical ones are more fun; I liked the Caputo/Miller story, for example. Brad Teare's version of "The Star" boils it down to a succession of silent panels and one text balloon in the final panel. Skip Williamson's "The Man with a Nose" matches the humour of the story with suitably quirky images. There's even a contribution from Wells himself: pages from a childhood story that he wrote and illustrated.
Graphic Classics: H.G. Wells
At the top of the Graphic Classics website appears a very appropriate quote by Mark Twain. "A classic is something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read." Fortunately for today's readers, editor Tom Pomplun and his contingent of talented writers and artists break the curse surrounding "classic" tomes, giving readers an enjoyable abridgement and depiction of works by noted authors that are a pleasure to experience.
The latest release from Graphic Classics is a newly revised, second edition of selected works by H.G. Wells. There are all-new comics adaptations of The Time Machine, The Invisible Man, and The Inexperienced Ghost, as well as other stories which did not appear in the first edition.
For those familiar with H.G. Wells, reading these adaptations is like meeting an old friend over coffee. The conversation is not too long, but long enough to exchange pleasantries and rekindle memories of past encounters. And for those who aren't familiar with Wells' writing, this graphic novel serves as an excellent introduction to some of his best-known and not so well-known works.
Of course, there are some stories that will jump right out at readers, such as The Time Machine, The Invisible Man, and The War of the Worlds. Of these three, The Time Machine was my favorite. The concise adaptation retains the main points of the story and the illustrations have both a Victorian feel and a dark, somewhat vague quality which effectively depicts the time traveler's memories of an unbelievable future for humanity.
The War of the Worlds is another easily recognizable story and the telling of this adventure is enhanced by the decision to tell it in the context of the 1938 radio broadcast. This is an entertaining look at the unintended effects of a powerful story, emphasizing not only the power of the media, but also the power of a great storyteller.
Memory can be a real trickster and that was certainly the case with the very first offering in this collection. The Invisible Man was thoroughly engrossing because it made me realize I had completely forgotten the origins of this popular icon. Sometimes, between various movie and TV interpretations, it's easy to forget the "story behind the story." Which brings up another benefit of reading the Graphic Classics series -- it's a great memory prompt for titles you may not have read in a very long time.
Other, perhaps less well-know stories included in this collection include The Inexperienced Ghost, The Temptation of Harringay, La Mari Terrible, The Man with a Nose, and The Star. These stories offer an eclectic mix of humor, what-ifs, and "food for thought" pieces. Individual stories are adapted and illustrated by various artists, which gives the entire collection more appeal, as each tale reflects different styles and interpretations.
The editor has done a commendable job of bringing H.G. Wells to an audience that might not otherwise take the time to read his original works. Through these adaptations, Pomplun helps those of us who have previously read H.G. Wells to remember why Wells' imagination is timeless. And, for those who may not have even considered this author's work before, here's an opportunity to be "tempted" with a delicious slice of literature that may encourage further literary explorations.
Copyright © 2005 Susan Dunman
COMICS BUYERS GUIDE
The classics will never die. An earlier generation grew up on Gilbertons Classics Illustrated, Marvel Comics and now Tom Pomplun has re-introduced many early writers to todays readers. As with all Graphics Classics volumes, the art style ranges from text pieces with illustrations ("Le Mari Terrible" and "The Temptation of Harringay") to full comic book adaptations ("The Invisible Man" and "Time Machine"). Bordering on an underground art style, Dan ONeill (an original), Brad Teare, Seth Frail, and Rich Tommaso, illustrate adaptations that appeal to an audience looking for something a little different. Being a revised edition, this one contains 95 new pages of work. Where the "Time Machine" is more mainstream, the "Inexperienced Ghost" is more whimsically styled and conveys the sense of the story. The "War of the Worlds" broadcast story is a reprint, but still delightful. "This is the Columbia Broadcasting System" Mr Welles concludes the story with. But he may as well be saying, "This has been a Graphics Classics Production..Thank you for reading."
AMAZON TOP 100 REVIEWS
The Invisible Man and The War of the Worlds
H.G. Wells wrote some amazing stories. There are so many classic tales it is easy to forget that they all come from the same talented man. Of course, he is one of the founders of Science Fiction, single-handedly creating many of the sub-genres that can be found within its boarders. The alien invasion, the insane scientist who falls victim to his own experiment, the vision of a dark apocalyptic future, they all come springing from Wells's brain. Graphics Classics has again taken these fantastic tales and mixed them with talented illustrators for a unique storytelling experience. Nine stories in total have been adapted, from his most famous epics to a few sharp satires. The blend is nice, highlighting Wells's skills beyond what is generally known.
This volume contains:
The Invisible Man One of Wells's most renowned adventures, and one of the best-adapted from the Graphics Classics series. The story is longer than is usually found in Graphics Classics, and is allowed to play out in its brutal entirety. The art is especially well-suited to the story, giving a cartoony and Victorian feel.
The Inexperienced Ghost What starts off as a humorous tale of a ghost who isn't sure how to be a ghost, this ghost story takes an odd turn when a human tries to enter the ghost world. A melancholy ending.
The Man Who Could Work Miracles A cautionary tale about the dangers of wish-fulfillment. Especially when the Miracle Worker isn't too bright.
The Temptation of Harrington A text-with-pictures adaptation of an artist and his business.
The War of the Worlds Instead of adapting Wells's popular invasion yarn, this tells the tale of the infamous Halloween night when Orson Welles broadcast his radio adaptation, and the US nation panicked.
Le Mari Terrible Another text-and-pictures adaptation. Short and sassy with a great piece by Lisa K. Weber.
The Man with a Nose A very odd story of a man with the world's ugliest nose.
The Time Machine Another long adaptation, with some great art. A fearful vision of the future of mankind, with the Morlocks looking nice and freaky.
The Star A short but interesting tale of the unimportance of humanity, when seen in context of the whole planet. The art is excellent.
With 13 different artists adapting 9 different stories, Graphic Classics: H.G.Wells understandably contains a mishmash of styles. The upside to this is that this graphic novel will surely have something to please everyone; the downside is that there will also be something to displease everyone.
I, for example, would have liked to see full story adaptations from title page artist, Kent Steine, frontispiece illustrator, Chris Moore, and Author's Page artist, Jim Nelson. These wonderful artists could have replaced, for example, Dan O'Neill, Milton Knight, and Skip Williams to make the book a better buy for me.
The uneven collection includes some complete misses, such as O'Neill's "The Man Who Could Work Miracles," which looks like it's still at the rough draft stage, and Knight's "The Temptation of Harringay," with undefined illustrations in which you can't tell where one image ends and another begins. It also has some unnecessary additions, such as Lisa Weber's "Le Mari," which has one illustration, and Brad Tear's "The Star," which is all illustration and so minimalist with dialogue that the ending is unclear.
Well's stories "The Invisible Man" and "The Time Machine" are so strong, however, that they shine through regardless of the illustrations, which here are adequate but add nothing to the tales.
Unfortunately, putting so many Wells' stories together reveals their general sameness: A protagonist (usually male) goes to his club and tells what happened to him during his scientific experimentation. The protagonist (and the author) then leaves it up to his colleagues (and the reader) to decide the veracity of his tale. It's a formula that works well if you read a story a day or one a month when the latest SF&F magazine arrives, but it becomes repetitive when read one after another.
By far the best adaptation in word and picture is "War of the Worlds: The Story of Orson Welles' 1938 Radio Broadcast." Antonella Caputo and Nick Miller use clean, clear, bold illustrations and a variety of layouts, including split panels, bursts, pullouts, and whole page panels, to tell the fascinating true story of the panic this broadcast caused. You might call this Welles does Wells so well that listeners believe Earth is actually being invaded.
While there are some gems in this collection, the book is a mixed bag overall so I'm giving it a mixed rating.
COMIC BOOK GALAXY
This is an overhauled edition of a previous version from a few years ago, and it's one of the better of these volumes from Eureka and editor Tom Pomplun, which I was surprised to note because GC stalwart Rick Geary is absent this time out. I hardly missed him, though, and was totally sold by the end of the first story, a superb adaptation of The Invisible Man. Chalk it up to my knowledge of the character from of all places! comic books (specifically, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen), but I was absolutely riveted by Rod Lott and Simon Gane's masterful depiction of one of Wells's best-known stories. Gane's art is incredibly expressive and effective, combining bold visual confidence with a rock-solid sense of time, place, and storytelling. And the story itself -- and Lott's adaptation, it should be said -- works as well today as Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill's take on the character or the original story itself. Griffin's descent into madness is a gripping, human tale and the absolute highlight of this volume. Other great adaptations here include Seth Frail's stark, moody "The Time Machine," and a "War of the Worlds" piece that focuses on the the story of the Orson Welles radio drama of Wells's tale. The Graphic Clasics series has had its ups and downs, and often the stories vary greatly in quality from one to the next, but as always, there are a couple of standout pieces here that more than justify the cover price and make Graphic Classics Vol. 3: H.G. Wells a valuable addition to the library of anyone who appreciates a little literature with their comics. Grade: 4/5
GRAPHIC NOVEL JOURNAL
All of Wells' classic stories are here: "The Invisible Man," "The Time Machine," and "The Inexperienced Ghost" along with some lesser works. "The War of the Worlds" isn't adapted directly, rather a telling of Welles' radio adaptation and its effect is illustrated instead. While it may be true that the story is so well known as to not need another interpretation, the story of Welles' version is almost as well known and has been so exaggerated here that it isn't welcome.
Most of the stories lack the imagination that Wells brought to his writing. The standout of the collection is an almost wordless five page adaptation of "The Star" by Brad Teare. The others can be avoided.
The beginning of science fiction
Herbert George Wells is commonly regarded as the founder of modern science fiction. His first "scientific romance" (as his stories were generally referred to in his day) was The Chronic Argonauts, published 1888 in serialized form in his college newspaper. Seven years later, he rewrote it as The Time Machine: An Invention. This was his first of several popular novels, which also included The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Invisible Man and The War of the Worlds. His renown as the founder of modern science fiction is only rivaled by that of the French novelist, Jules Verne. Here in the second edition of Graphic Classics' comics adaptations of the works of H.G. Wells, readers get a chance to see in 144 handsomely illustrated pages the true breadth of Wells' imagination.
This volume features eight Wells' tales, and one story about the story of Orson Welles' infamous radio broadcast of the adapted The War of the Worlds. That tale is the least interesting of the bunch because the story of Welles' adaptation and the terror it spread that 1938 Halloween night is well known, perhaps even better known than H.G. Wells' original story. It would have been a treat to have a comic adaptation of that original story.
The eight adaptations of Wells' original stories are solid comics reading. The collection begins strongly with The Invisible Man. Here is a character I knew well from numerous pop culture mediums, and yet as I read this adaptation, I realized how little I knew about the original story. Here Hawley Griffin is depicted as a tragic figure, a misunderstood scientific freak prone to acting out in anger when faced with the fear of those who learn his secret. The tale is adapted by Rod Lott and illustrated by Simon Gane. Both do an excellent job.
My favourite tale of the bunch is the second story in this collection. The Inexperienced Ghost is a witty ghost story in which a man of wealth confronts a ghost that is haunting the private club to which he belongs. The man wants the ghost to leave, but it turns out the ghost doesn't know how to do so. The man helps him out with success, but in doing so he learns a spectral secret no mortal should know.
Another tale I enjoyed a great deal was The Time Machine. My most recent experience with this tale was the poorly executed Hollywood film that was released a couple of years ago. Reading this comics adaptation wiped that memory from my mind.
Also included in this collection are The Man Who Could Work Miracles, another tale of wit; The Temptation of Harringay, a work of prose punctuated with some illustrations; Le Mari Terrible, the least interesting of the bunch in my opinion; The Man with a Nose, the oddest tale in this collection; and The Star, a short and almost wordless adaptation that finishes off the collection.
There are ten different collections in the Graphic Classics line thus far (including Edgar Allan Poe, Ambrose Bierce, Jack London, H.P. Lovecraft, and Robert Louis Stevenson, each providing a look at some of the great stories of popular literature. Eureka Productions rounds up a fabulous body of talented writers and artists to put these books together. The publisher and the creators' love of the material shine through in each volume.