SPECTATORS - Part 72
Plus, comics adapt Hollywood!
Greetings from glorious Cleveland, Ohio!
Brian here, unexpectedly back home to help out with some family stuff. All is fine, thanks. I’m typing this in my childhood bedroom on an old roll top desk still stuffed with Twin Peaks trading cards. Did you know Audrey Horne was born on August 15, 1972? Is that canon…?
Anyway, I’m a few time zones closer to my gifted international collaborators Niko Henrichon and Fongrafiks, so here’s a slightly earlier than usual look at their latest gorgeous pages of Spectators. Seriously, if you can “Airplay” Niko’s spread to your flatscreen (or whatever), check out all that detail.
You can always catch up on our unconventional ghost story through the Exploding Giraffe Archives, but if you’re ready to press ahead, our future-haunting protagonists Val and Sam are once again discussing cinema of the past.
Have you seen The Great Train Robbery? Maybe the first narrative film, this ten-minute western is available to watch in its action-packed entirety online.
And if last week’s generational poll is to be believed, a plurality of Exploding Giraffe readers were born almost a hundred year’s after that flick’s original release.
As of this writing on Monday afternoon, Millennials and my fellow Generation Xers are TIED, each making up 43% of our audience. Baby Boomers (7%) narrowly edged out Gen Z (6%), with a dignified 1% of you belonging to the so-called Silent Generation (folks born between 1928 and 1945).
But not nearly as intriguing as last week’s Artopsy from the mighty Niko Henrichon, who took us on a deep dive of his collaboration with writer/director Darren Aronofsky for their sumptuous graphic novel Noah.
Niko kindly offered to give away a couple signed copies of this incredible book, and our intern Genesis the Exploded Giraffe randomly selected two of you generous paid subscribers: Fil G. and Matt H-C!
Congrats, and thanks to all of you loyal Tower commenters who chimed in during last week’s sprawling chat with Niko about art, avocados and adaptations.
Speaking of adaptations, reader Mike R. wrote:
Interesting story about Noah, but it leaves us still w/ the chicken and the egg problem of ... which came first? Although I see the comic cover decided that the movie was the adaptation...
…to which Niko responded:
Well, we did the comics first but it is based on a movie script. So... I don't know!
Is Noah a comic adaptation or an adapted comic?
I don’t know either, but my relationship with adaptations is somewhat… complicated. Because I’m not terribly interested in seeing Saga adapted at the moment, some readers think I hate all adaptations, but that’s definitely not the case. In the past, I’ve adapted my own writing for other media, had my writing adapted by others, and even helped adapt works by some of my favorite authors (including one new project I was working on before the strike that I hope you’ll eventually be able to see… if and when the AMPTP decides to come back to the negotiating table).
Most of the stories I love are ones that celebrate/explore/challenge the unique strengths of whatever medium they originally appeared in (the film Citizen Kane, the comic Watchmen, the novel Misery, etc.), but I also enjoy seeing how fearless creators transmogrify others’ work, at least when it’s done with gusto.
Still, while a lot of fans seem to pine for their favorite comics to be somehow “validated” by the jump from page to screen, when I was a kid, the biggest honor a show or film or whatever could receive (for me, at least) was getting its own comic-book adaptation.
Back then, TV and movies were somewhat etherial, especially in the dark days before everyone owned a VCR. But comics were deliciously tangible, able to be studied and dissected. So a lot of those adaptations weren’t just rote novelizations, but thoughtful evolutions of the “source material” by some of the medium’s best creators (most of whom never even got to see the finished work before they started writing or drawing!).
With that in mind, I thought I’d share some examples from my demented collection of original comic art focused on adaptations.
Yep, it’s been over two months since our last one, so it’s time for everyone’s sixth-favorite ongoing segment here at Exploding Giraffe…
Come Up and See My Etchings
Today, I’ll be showing off artwork by legends including Jack Kirby, Darwyn Cooke, and Bill Sienkiewicz, adapting stories from fellow legends like Stanley Kubrick, Donald E. Westlake, David Lynch and more.
But first, I’m curious: What’s your favorite adaptation, of any kind, from one medium to another?
A randomly selected lucky-ish winner will receive signed copies of two of my own wacky stabs at writing comics featuring characters from other media:
Looking forward to discovering your favorites in the chat.
Okay, so, in 1979, two of comics’ finest creators, writer Archie Goodwin and artist Walt Simonson, tackled what a lot of us feel is the very best comic adaptation of a film: Alien (directed by Ridley Scott and written by Dan O’Bannon, based on a story by O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett).
Looks like it was most recently collected in print from Titan as Alien: The Illustrated Story, and I can’t recommend this graphic retelling highly enough. Even without the benefit of score or sound effects, it somehow still works as a tense sci-fi horror story.
The below is just an old convention sketch, but check out Simonson’s perfectly weighted take on H.R. Giger’s xenomorph, the most beautiful movie monster ever designed:
Of course, not every adaptation originates from a hit movie or tv show. Sometimes, it starts as just a bunch of plastic shit:
That’s from one of the earliest comics I remember loving, Marvel’s G.I. Joe #54, by writer Larry Hama, penciller Rod Whigham, and inker Sam de la Rosa. The word balloons (by letterer Joe Rosen) apparently fell off this particular page, but like the famous “silent issue” of Joe, the storytelling still works. So much excellent, often subversive work went into a series that could have just been a throwaway ad for jingoistic toys.
(By the way, when I was lucky enough to be part of the Hasbro writer’s room, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon wrote something involving Snake Eyes that honored the character’s creator Larry Hama and literally gave me chills.)
Next up, one of the absolute crown jewels of my oddball collection…
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial