The Best of Ray Bradbury: the Graphic Novel

A comic review article by: Jason Sacks
Ray Bradbury is one of the finest writers of science fiction and fantasy literature, a true living legend whose outstanding writing transcends the genre. His stories are taught in high school and college lit. classes throughout the English-speaking world. He's also a long-time friend of comics. He allowed EC Comics to adapt several of his stories in their science fiction comics in the 1950s, and in the '90s helped spearhead a series that adapted his short stories. That series was unjustly ignored during the comics bust, and now it is back with a collection of some of the finest adaptations from that series.

And what adaptations they are! From the gorgeous art of Mike Mignola, adapting "The City," to Dave Gibbons's whimsical adaptation of "Come Into My Cellar," from Daniel Torres's warm adaptation of "Night Meeting" to John Van Fleet's haunting adaptation of "Picaso Summer," the artists all add extra texture to Bradbury's outstanding stories. Each of these artists are master professionals, who have frequently written their own stories. They
therefore bring a writer's sensibility to their work. The end result is something that transcends the original work--both true to its source and with an extra element of intelligence.

Matt Wagner and the great Harvey Kurtzman, for instance, join together on a wonderful adapatation of "It Burns Me Up," which manages to be both spooky and moving at the same time. Mark Chiarello's adapatation of "A Piece of Wood" uses color in a spectacular way to illuminate the story of two men talking about a weapon that could forever end war. And Gibbons's take on "Come Into My Cellar" uses the artist's traditional comics style to great effect, wonderfully conveying the banality of his characters' lives through use of small panels that seem to be just slightly askew.

Most exciting in this collection is the interesting approach taken by the artists to Bradbury's very personal and introspective stories. This collection is almost a clinic in composing stories in ways that enliven their plot. For instance, the different interpretation each artist takes on the Martian landscape of Bradbury's stories is wonderful; each creator's approach complements their respective stories while also creating a greater tableau of life on Mars that really makes a reader yearn for more stories in that strange metaphorical place.

This book is the ideal gift for a science fiction fan who is interested in comics. The worst of these stories are unmemorable; the best are wonderful examples of what happens when master creators play with each others' ideas.

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