Graphic Classics, Volume 17: Science Fiction Classics by H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, Arthur Conan Doyle

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Graphic Classics, Volume 17: Science Fiction Classics by H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, Arthur Conan Doyle

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Category: Graphic Novels
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A patchy but ever-interesting spread of old-school science fiction, given the graphic novel styling of some young rising artists.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 144 Date: June 2009
Publisher: Eureka Productions
ISBN: 978-0978791971

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So, an introduction. The Graphic Classics collection is a series whereby the best in genre fiction, from sources both highly likely and remarkably unexpected, is collected and dressed up for us in graphic novel form. This seventeenth edition, a belated best-of sci-fi volume, is their first foray into full colour, and is headlined by a version of The War of the Worlds. The supporting material ranges from a one-page strip to thirty-page stories.

None of the artists' names were known to me - they're not exactly on the A-list in the comix world, and I'm not sure this has evidence that they ever would, or should, become so. At its best there is a nice combination of artist and material, however. There is an almost Tintinesque crispness to Arthur Conan Doyle's The Disintegration Machine, which is appropriate given the fable-like bluff/twist the baddie suffers from. The nearest this volume gets to fantasy regards a Faustian swap-shop, and this has a more ageless, fine art, woodcut styling.

Elsewhere there is a match between the golden age of sci-fi, with the golden or silver ages of sequential art. But when we see too many pages of Jetsons kitsch we can't be completely happy.

I admit that compilations like this will seldom hit all the marks - I don't want to sound too critical, but the same mish-mash can be seen in the writing as well. Some pieces come out of their adaptations better than others (he says, not knowing the originals). But this series has wilfully gone for a scatter-gun affair, opening all the oysters around for the rare pearl. And here we get E M Forster's only known foray into science fiction, given to us in gaudiness that does work, and that fits with the narration well. (If you think Forster doing sci-fi sounds unlikely, wait for the next volume - Louisa May Alcott going horror will be with you in time for Christmas.)

The headline piece, The War of the Worlds, has been done in graphic form before - and given several sequels in the same format. This version is brave in truncating *that* opening speech, and seems to me to be a more honest approach to the story, giving a more equal balance to the human and alien dramas, however internal, and lessening, for instance, Thunderchild and some of the more obvious scenes. One still hears Burton and David Essex, of course.

So while nothing here is exactly worth cutting out and framing (heaven forfend), nor opens up a new world of sci-fi drama to the initiate, this collection tidily reminds one of compilations of old, and puts graphic spin on some interesting little tales. It certainly, with the Forster and Wells, has an eye for the noteworthy, if it quite can't replicate it itself.

I must thank the publishers for our review copy.

The Graphic Classics franchise started with a Poe edition - making that direct opposition for Nevermore. For more adapted sci-fi, we enjoyed the The Twilight Zone books.

Buy Graphic Classics, Volume 17: Science Fiction Classics by H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, Arthur Conan Doyle at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Graphic Classics, Volume 17: Science Fiction Classics by H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, Arthur Conan Doyle at Amazon.co.uk


Buy Graphic Classics, Volume 17: Science Fiction Classics by H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, Arthur Conan Doyle at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Graphic Classics, Volume 17: Science Fiction Classics by H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, Arthur Conan Doyle at Amazon.com.

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