Wednesday, January 04, 2006

This Comic Is Good - Graphic Classics: Arthur Conan Doyle Volume 2

I think I'll take a much needed break from asking various rhetorical questions to actually tell you about a good comic book (gasp, I know)!! The good comic book in this instance is the new, revised, edition of Graphic Classic's Arthur Conan Doyle Vol. 2, which Tom Pomplun was so kind as to send to me to tell you folks about. It is another winner from Graphic Classics, who seems to have hit upon a great combination - classic short stories by famous writers and good art by a wide range of comic artists.

Athur Conan Doyle gets the attention in this collection, and, well, as far as the stories go, that will go as far as you think about Arthur Conan Doyle. Enjoy him, and you will likely enjoy these stories. If you dislike Doyle's stories, then you probably will not enjoy this collection of tales. The goal for me, though, is to tell you folks how well (or how poorly) the Graphic Classics' gang has translated Doyle's stories to the comic book medium.

Neale Blanden opens things up with a trippy take on a funny Doyle poem, on the topic, of all things, of spontaneous generation!!! Truly a matter of seeing is believing.

Rick Geary takes a very straightforward approach to the first full length tale, a Sherlock Holmes story about a nanny gone to work for a strange family for SOME reason or another. Geary is a good artist, but to be honest, I think his adaptation was a tad methodical. Very much by the books. I understand that the very nature of adapting a story results in some untoward aspects, such as constant long captions, etc, but Geary's work reminds me of a story Brian Michael Bendis once told of trying to "adapt" Raiders of the Lost Arc to comic form, by drawing the movie (with use of his VCR), frame by frame. The result (had Bendis not grown tired of it quickly enough) is a TOO faithful adaptation. However, a "too faithful" adaptation of a good Sherlock Holmes story is still interesting to read, and I think Geary absolutely NAILS the depiction of Holmes and Watson.

Pomplun adapted the next story himself, with striking artwork by John K. Pierard. A much greater sense of fluidity is present in this tale of pirates, subterfuge, murder and gamesmenship on the high seas. Pierard's work is rough and unkempt, which fits the story extremely well, as it is one of rough and unkepmt characters. Pomplun varies from narration style a few times, to great effect.

In the first piece I did on Graphic Classics, I mentioned disappointment on one story adapted and drawn by J.B. Bonivert, as I did not think that Bonivert's style fit the story. This was NOT the case in the collection, as the story Bonivert chose to tell, one of what happens when men dabble too much with a science that they do not understand, fits his odd style extremely well, as this story of a electrocution that did not go as planned is trippy as all hell, which describes Bonivert's artwork, as well, I believe.

My fav'rit, Roger Langridge, does a good adaptation of a Doyle poem. I just wish Langridge could have done more. I think he's the bestest.

Milton Knight brings his madcap style to the next tale, as he adapts a modern passion play of Doyle's, between two men, both vying for the patent to a new engineering device.

The next story, a Brigadier Gerard (Doyle's second-most famous creation...sorta like how Blackhawk feels when people talk about how great The Spirit is) tale adapted by Antonella Caputo, features work by Nick Miller, who manages to evoke (in a very good way), the way Sergio Aragones would create a world of adventure in the pages of Groo. Good stuff, with a writing style by Caputo that absolutely nails the "adapting a story while making it look like it originated in this format" style.

The next tale, a Sherlock Holmes story adapted by Ron Lott, features the just flatout "homina homina homina homina" work of Simon Gane, which is just a thrill to get to read. Each panel is like a mini-painting, that is how much richness Gane puts into his work, and he is clearly holding back a bit on his Holmes story (to better fit the plot). If you have not seen his Paris work, well, that's a book where Andi Watson lets him just go WILD. And Simon Gane going wild's pretty damn wild. A great coup by Pomplun to have Gane involved in this collection. Just wowsa, wowsa, wowsa.

Finally, Pomplun adapts a style of story near to Doyle's heart, the occult, with art by Peter Gullerud. I like Gullerud's work, but I'll be damned if he doesn't make you really work at it to appreciate his stuff. Similar to Gane, each panel is a dizzying array of detail, but in Gane's case, the "dizzying" part is just something you say. In Gullerud's case, it actual IS dizzying at times...hehe. But if you tough it out, and commit yourself to the piece, you will be rewarded by a great deal of imaginative linework. I especially love the faces he gives his characters. In the midst of the lunacy, the simpleness of the facial features just makes me smile.

Anyhow, all in all, this is a very impressive collection, and for over 140 pages of comics (and FILLED with story), you can buy this book on the Graphic Classics' site for a mere TEN bucks! Pretty sweet.

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