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CSBG Archive

31 Days of Comics – Great Adaptation or Remake of Another Work

Our pal Seth Hahne, of GoodOKBad fame, came up with this 31 Days of Comics challenge, one of those things where each day of the month you’re given a different category that you then make a choice of a comic to fill that category. I figured it would be a fun bit to do, so here we are! Click here to see each of the categories so far!

We continue with Day 3, which is a Great Adaptation or Remake of Another Work

Read on for my pick and then you can share yours!

While my pal Eric Gjovaag probably knows more about the Wizard of Oz than anyone I know, Eric Shanower certainly could give him a run for his money and Shanower’s absolutely brilliant adaptations of the Oz books into comic books with artist Skottie Young is astounding. Young’s character designs are transcendent and his storytelling is impeccable. Rarely have a series of adaptations had as much dear, dear attention as Shanower and Young have been giving to the Oz books (obviously I’m a huge fan of Darwyn Cooke’s Parker adaptations, as well, but I figured I’ve spoken so much about Cooke’s books that I should spread the love a bit, as it were).

Here is a snippet from their first series, which adapted The Wonderful Wizard of Oz…


And their first meeting with the Wizard?


What a great series of books.


Shanower did a pretty good job with Oz in books with his own art and adaptation, from First back in the day. Someone collected them all into one book in the past several years, but I’m blanking on who.

I’ve heard that the adaptation of Paul Auster’s New York Trilogy/City of Glass by… Mazzuchelli et all (iirc) was amazing, and that the adaptation of Tom De Haven’s Freaks’ Amour (recently re-released by Dark Horse) was good too.

I’m blanking on stuff I’ve actually read MYSELF, though. Duhhhh.

(Aside — I almost mistyped Oz as Oa, and had a thought — was that intentional on the part of whoever named the planet (Schwartz, Broome, Fox, whomever it would have been)? Green planet at the center of the universe, with big headed blue guys who claim to be more on the ball than they really are, but actually are a bunch of frauds? Striking similarities, now that I think about it.)

^^^ City of Glass was the first thing I thought of when I read the title.

Oooh, The Iron Wagon adaptation by Jason. The only thing is that I can’t think of any where I’ve read both the original and the remake.

Darwyn Cooke’s adaptations of Richard Stark’s Parker books are great. I’ll go with the latest Slayground.

It’s really no contest: R. Sikoryak’s version of Albert Camus’s The Stranger. He re-imagines key scenes from the novel as a series of Silver Age Action Comics covers. Superman takes the role of Meursault, Lois Lane is Marie, etc. If you’re familiar with the novel, it’s totally worth doing a quick Google image search; it’s pretty hilarious stuff.

Also of note is his version of Kafka’s The Metamorphosis done in the style of Schulz’s Peanuts, “Good Ol’ Gregor Brown”.

Honorable mention: the manga version of Anne Frank, as hosted by Astro Boy(!)

@ Travis and Cass– City of Glass leapt into my head first, too. I like DM, but, truth be told, Auster’s prose version is better.

Oh man, Jason’s Iron Wagon is great. Also, I love Skottie Young’s art on Oz, but am less impressed with Shanower’s writing. It felt too expository (at least in the first volume). I love Shanower’s adaptation of the Trojan War though. Also, Taniguchi’s adaptation of Jack London in The Ice Wanderer is pretty stellar.

For my choice, I was torn. On the one hand, 5 Centimetres Per Second? Oh wow, oh man. The book is just amazing. It does everything EVERYTHING an adaptation should. It’s faithful to some spirit of the original. It builds on what was there. It changes things up in a way that actually improves on the original. Like that that Scott Bradlee/Robyn Adele Anderson cover of that Miley Cyrus song that’s been floating around.

5 Cm the movie was pretty cool, a mature love story that remains romantic while eschewing romanticism, if you catch my meaning. Only. Only it’s conclusion is pretty abrupt. Maybe that flies with better success for a Japanese audience, but the normative Western response is something like: Hah, wait what? Heh. Uhm, those are the final credits? What the hell dude? The film is not the poster boy for resolution. So what does adapter Seike do? She substantially beefs up the three chapters from the movie, giving characters new lines and essentially building up at least one character from scratch to fill out the last third of the book. Then THEN she writes a whole fourth chapter, drawing from earlier chapters and giving the reader a hook to hang their hat on. And she knocks it out of the park. She’s faithful to the story as told but builds on it—probably in a way that original author Shimura might have himself if only he were five or ten years older. It’s glorious and I haven’t seen any adaptation even playing in the same ballpark.

Only I have. Naoki Urusawa, creator of Monster and 20th Century Boys took an ancient arc from Astro Boy and transformed it into Pluto, one of the best comics experiences available to readers. The entire story is redone and transformed. The bones are there but the meat and skin and muscles and hair that Urusawa fashions atop Tezuka’s original is just some astonishing work. I kept myself back from reading Pluto because I was discovering that I wasn’t really a fan of Tezuka. It was a sad discovery but a true one. So I didn’t feel any reason to see one of his stories exhumed and made to dance in modern clothes. Eventually I broke and I’m glad I did. You need to read this.

I don’t know which adaptation is best. I’m still going to go with 5 Centimeters Per Second. But only by a hair. A distant third, I suppose, might be Brandon Graham’s Prophet.

Oh, and it’s probably closer to fanfiction, and I don’t know if it counts, but Régis Loisel’s prequel to Peter and Wendy (titled Peter Pan) is a wonderfully faithful and inventive new story that builds on the mythos.

Man. I should just stop trying to use italics in comments. I always mess them up somehow. Good job me.

I thought of these “Wizard of Oz” adaptations too, but in the end I think I have to give it to Charles Dixon, Sean Deming and David Wenzel’s beautiful adaptation of “The Hobbit”, which was published by Harper Collins in the UK and I think Eclipse Books in the US. It was a loving and faithful adaptation that still managed to be more than a straight “Classics Illustrated”.

I guess it’s on my mind because I just watched the second part of Peter Jackson’s adaptation!

I’m not what you’d call an opera fan by any means. However, over the years, I have really enjoyed P. Craig Russell’s various opera adaptations. I especially like his version of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute.” I recently bought his 3-volume hardcover set of all his opera adaptations and I look forward to reading them, especially those I’ve not yet read.

That said, I’d better go read me some BATMAN real quick.

Joe Kubert’s adaptation of Tarzan of the Apes. It’s faithful, fantastically paced and absolutely gorgeous.

It’s near the top of my list of all-time great comics, adapted or otherwise.

Ditto on City of Glass. I like the prose version too, but I thought the comic adaptation did a much better job of establishing a mood; if there ever was a story that benefited from showing, not telling, it was that one.

Shanower’s Age of Bronze deserves WAY more love though.

Conan by Roy Thomas. If you need more specific, the adaptation/expansion of Queen of the Black Coast by Thomas/Buscema etc.

I guess I’m a little obsessed about this topic, so I will expound even more…

Some of the best and most celebrated were EC’s adaptations of Ray Bradbury’s works, which he approved of heartily. Some of the better ones include Wally Wood’s “And There Shall Come Soft Rains” and (my favorite) Bernie Kreigstein’s “The Flying Machine”. The latter is done in a fantastic faux Chinese style that is sophisticated for today, let alone the 50’s.

Guido Crepax did some good porny renditions of Jekyll and Hyde, Justine, and The Story of O.

While I applaud the effort, Jacobson and Colon’s 9/11 Report was not quality comics. I am fascinated with this kind of non-narrative stuff though, including the ones I haven’t even read, like the comic versions of the US Constitution and Darwin’s Origin of Species.

The Bible, of course, is ripe for comics. Basil Wolverton, Robert Crumb, and many others have taken a poke at it, including those who participated in the excellent one-shot, Sexy Stories from the World Religions.

My local shop’s reserved a shelf for adaptations. They currently have 2 versions of the Odyssey, but don’t have any versions of Macbeth. I’ve got one of those, but it isn’t the manga version. Kafka’s also popular; besides Sikoryak’s great fusion of Peanuts and the Metamorphosis, there’s also Crumb’s take on his oeuvre.

And we haven’t even got to Classics Illustrated..not even Gahan’s Poe or Sienkiewicz ‘s Moby Dick!

I think this stretches the definition of adaptation or remake a little bit, but I’ll go with Bendis’ Ultimate Spider-Man run, which was essentially a remake of the Lee/Ditko/Romita stuff. Just a phenomenal series that retained a nice amount of the originals while veering off into new territory in fascinating ways, like the addition of Kitty to the cast.

As far as a more literal adaptation, Cooke’s Parker books really are amazing.

Though it stretches the definition maybe, I think you’re on target with Ultimate Spider-Man. Bendis did so many lovely things with that book. Largely it was a solid book with the exception of shoehorning in universe-wide crossovers like “Ultimatum” and “Avengers Vs. New Ultimates” (neither of which made great sense if one was only following Ultimate Spider-Man). I loved so much of what Bendis did and felt he revitalized a character I liked but had grown disaffected with (until the “Death of Peter Parker” arc, which was marred by it’s cross-over nature.

I generally dislike comic adaptations of non-comic works.

That said I really enjoyed P Craig Russel’s adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline.

Put me on the P. Craig Russell list. Beautiful work.

The Dixon/Wenzel “Hobbit” is absolutely gorgeous and just perfect. I almost couldn’t watch the recent movie version because that book showed me how good an adaptation of the book was possible.

For me it’s any Dell movie adaptation that Alex Toth did. I’m probably biased because Toth is my favorite comic artist, but to me he was able to take some truly horrible movies and make them look awesome in the pages of his comics. Gun Glory, Rio Bravo, the Land Unknown, and his Zorro stories stand out the most to me.

Yeah. I enjoyed Toth’s Zorro too.

I loved the work Russell and Michael T. Gilbert did on Elric and Corum foir First in the mid-80s

I really enjoyed all the Enderverse books.

I have an odd one that comes to mind….the merging of Shi with the Art of War in Senryaku I thought was really well done.

Ultimate Spider-Man: Power and Responsibility is a perfect retelling of the original Spider-Man origin.

Wow, this is a toughie. Its a toss up between two for me.

I really enjoyed Dark Horse’s Manga adaptations of the original Star Wars Trilogy. Each movie was adapted in 4 books, IIRC they covered most if not all of what happened in the films.

(Also much love for Al Williamson’s ESB adaptation for Marvel, the best that was done of the OT by Marvel.)

I loved the movie Conan the Barbarian, but Marvel’s two issue adaptation (drawn by classic Conan artist John Buscema) really blew my mind. Wonderful art, very faithful to the movie.

Archie Goodwin and Walt Simonson’s adaptation of “Alien” for Heavy Metal is one of the greatest adaptations to comics ever. Not only is the artwork gorgeous, but the timing is modified just right to make some of the scares even scarier. It’s one of the rare times I’ve considered picking IDW’s Artist Editions (if only because I want to see Goodwin’s annotated film script to see his creative process).

Just read Jim Henson’s Tale of Sand. Friggin’ amazing. It might not be what a lot of people expect from Henson unless you are familiar with his early non-muppet work on experimental films. This takes the script for an experimental movie and perfectly tailors it for comics without it simply feeling like a story board. It’s hilarious, exhilarating, mysterious, nightmarish (in a funny way) and what would happen if you took the dream like films of David Lynch and Guy Maddin and crashed them into the colourful lunacy of Looney Tunes or Adventure Time. Definitely deserved the accolades it won.

I think someone mentioned above, but the comics from the late 60’s early 70’s that illustrated the Bible are fantastic! I read them over and over in church when the sermon was going on…..(Yeah I was young and didn’t understand what was being said.)

One other to mention….is the Marvel adaption of “Logan’s Run”. Great reading that ended on a cliffhanger. Of course, now it is mostly known for the issue that has the first solo story of Thanos.

Darwyn Cooke’s Parker, specifically the first one, The Hunter. Its got that lean mean energy that Point Blank has, but with Cooke’s cool style.

P. Craig Russell’s Coraline.

Any of the Al Williamson movie adaptations – Blade Runner, Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, Flash Gordon.

Williamsons art is just so photographic and realistic.

It’s a loose adaptation but I’m going with Matt Wagner’s first Zorro arc, adapting the origin from the Zorro novel from a few years back…I love the character and I particularly loved that take on him.

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