Years ago I read Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild, his retelling of the short life of Chris McCandless. I missed this post when Krakauer first put it online, but it seems that he now has some new ideas about what caused McCandless's death.
You can hear Krakauer discuss his new theory in this interview with NPR.
In an earlier post I mentioned that I had started reading graphic novels, and that I had done so under the influence of I. N. J. Culbard. If you look at that earlier post, you'll see that most of his books, or at least most of the ones that I've read, were published by SelfMadeHero,
a British press that specializes in graphic novels. I browse their website from time to time, and so I've noticed that they publish, among other things, adaptations of classic works of literature.
What recently caught my eye was Rob Davis's graphic novel The Complete Don Quixote. I was already slightly familiar with Davis's work, since he adapted "The Dunwich Horror" in The Lovecraft Anthology, volume one, which was also published by SelfMadeHero. But his work as an illustrator was unknown to me. I figured that a graphic novel of Don Quixote would be a worthwhile read, and so I requested it through interlibrary loan at my local public library.
The book looks very nice, I think. Here are the cover and the title page:
Davis's visual style is simple and direct. Nothing fussy, nothing needlessly complicated.
Since almost everyone knows the story of Don Quixote and the windmills, I figured that I could include photos of it without spoiling anyone's fun. They'll give you a small taste of the book's visual delights.
Once again, simple and direct. Funny and charming too, in that sad way of so many of Don Quixote's adventures. The comic book sound effects help, don't they?
When I was in high school, I read an abridged edition of the original novel in my Spanish class; and when I was in college, I read an abridged English translation in a literature class. That means, unfortunately, that I've never read Cervantes' novel in its entirety in any language. My judgment of Davis's adaptation, based on what I have read and remember of the novel, is that it is a faithful one. He did a very fine job, I think, and so I highly recommend this book.
One mark of the success of any type of adaptation of a literary work is whether or not the adaptation leads us back to the original source material. After reading Davis's The Complete Don Quixote I find that I'd like read Don Quixote in its entirety.
So now I'm researching various English translations. (Is it my imagination, or are there dozens of them?) I'm even reviewing my Spanish for the first time in slightly over thirty years. I'll read the abridged Spanish edition published by Dover when my skill with the language is back up to speed, and I'll eventually read the entire novel in English. Since none of this was ever really an ambition of mine, I'd like to thank Mr. Davis for prompting me to take up Don Quixote again. I'm grateful for the inspiration.
I've been reading Lovecraft since I was a teenager, and so it was probably inevitable that I became a regular listener of The H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast hosted by Chad Fifer and Chris Lackey.
When Fifer and Lackey discussed At the Mountains of Madness, they were joined by I. N. J. Culbard for a couple of episodes. I learned that Culbard had adapted and illustrated the story as a graphic novel. I was intrigued, even though at the time I wasn't a reader of graphic novels. Years ago I read Art Spiegelman's Maus, and, really, that was it. I didn't know much else about the medium. But I figured that it wouldn't hurt to try another one, and so I ordered a copy of Culbard's version of At the Mountains of Madness.
Well, that was my downfall. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, which led me to read more of Culbard's work. Here's what I've bought over the past few years.
The Lovecraft books in my two photos were published by a British press called SelfMadeHero. Culbard not only adapted and illustrated At the Mountains of Madness, he also did double duty on HPL's "The Shadow Out of Time" and The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. He illustrated "The Dunwich Horror" in The Lovecraft Anthology, volume one, as well as Deadbeats, a Jazz Age Lovecraftian story dreamed up by Fifer and Lackey.
The one non-Lovecraftian book in my photos, The New Deadwardians, is from Vertigo, a DC imprint. It's an alternate history of an Edwardian England populated with large numbers of vampires and zombies. Mr. Culbard illustrated a story by Dan Abnett, whose work was new to me. The murdered corpse of an aristocratic vampire is found on the banks of the Thames. Chief Inspector George Suttle of Scotland Yard, himself a vampire, is sent to investigate, and the story goes from there. Along the way the reader learns many things, but the greatest mystery is the origin of the zombie plague. How this is handled is very clever. My only criticism of the book is that it could have easily been longer, for the setup is so rich that the story could have been spun out at greater length, but as it is the book is a great deal of fun. I recommend it as well.
Culbard also illustrated adaptations of Arthur Conan Doyle's four Sherlock Holmes novels. I've read three of them, and they too were very entertaining. I have yet to read The Valley of Fear, but I'll get around to it eventually. My local library doesn't have it, so I'll have to get hold of it some other way, maybe through interlibrary loan.
So, you see, Culbard has piqued my interest in graphic novels. I tried to read a few of the DC New 52 books, but I have to admit that they didn't much interest me. I've nothing against superhero stories, but to my eye the artwork is overstuffed, whereas Culbard's visuals don't overwhelm the story and distract my attention from the tale being told. Call me an admirer, I guess.
Anyway, what inspired this post was Culbard's explanation of why he adapted H. P. Lovecraft into the medium of graphic novels. I can't say how this decision affected Culbard's life, but it certainly influenced my reading habits. I hope to read more of his work in the future.