If you had told me 10 years ago that a publisher would take on the task of faithfully translating the pulp fiction fantasy stories I have read most of my life into comic form, I probably would have laughed. Honestly, I always thought that they could make great stories for comics, but the thought of properly translating them was laughable. That was, until recently. Devilís Due Publishing has been very diligent in the process of transferring some of the more popular stories over to the comic genre.
The first challenge with any adaptation is the adaptation itself. The novels carry with them a deep description of the world in which the story takes place. Hickman and Weis and Salvatore were outstanding at doing this; they also excelled at describing action scenes. Moving that into panels and pictures is somewhat daunting. There is always the chance that the wrong parts will be translated into the narration, with the comic becoming more and more words when it would be better done with actual art. These books do not suffer from this at all. Schley and Kleid have done a great job of setting a storyboard that actually uses the art to communicate the correct parts through art, and the correct bits through narration.
The second challenge is with the art: Can you translate beloved characters that people have grown up with, and created mythologies in their heads for into a single image? This has been accomplished a couple of times, in particular in the third edition of the D&D game manuals. However, when you are talking about more than characters posing against stock backgrounds, there are dozens of ways it can be done. In this book, the art is more than serviceable, with characters being communicated precisely as I imagined.
The book covers two stories, one from the Realms of Valor about Drizzt the Dark Elf Ranger, and the other from the Tales of Magic series about Palin, the nephew of the second most famous wizard in fiction: Raistlin Majere.
The action sequences, in particular with Drizzt are outstanding. There are a few moments where the loss of his bow is muddled, and it is unclear to me exactly what happens to it; however, the scenes with Twinkle and Icingdeath flashing about were amazingly accurate to the type of fighting style that Salvatore has described in his books. I also adore this depiction of Cattie-brie. I want a large version of her to go on my wall.
On the other hand, the Dragonlance tale has the reader visiting two Towers of High Sorcery and meeting several of the great wizards discussed throughout the chronicles of Krynn. Each was distinctive, especially Palin and Dalamar the Dark, and the artists do a great job on Caramon looking both young and strong, and old and worn. The Towers match the descriptions in the books almost flawlessly, and manage to create the overwhelming sense of age and mystery. My only complaint was the lack of hourglass pupils on Raistlin; Iím not sure how that was missed.
I cannot say enough good things about the whole process that DDP is doing with the books of my childhood. I look forward to reading more of it, and picking up the trades of Chronicles and the Dark Elf Trilogy.
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