Publishers Hill and Wang have developed a new series, “Novel Graphics,” commissioning the recreation of several classic titles into graphic novels. Several titles in the catalogue were originally written by Ray Bradbury, a man who was known to be fond of the comic book format. The Martian Chronicles, illustrated by Dennis Calero, and Something Wicked This Way Comes, illustrated by Ron Wimberley, are the focus of this book review and both include introductions by Ray Bradbury.
In his introduction, Bradbury succinctly explains the genesis of The Martian Chronicles, originally published in 1950, and the weaving of the short stories that make up this novel. The story has been renewed through the drawing talents of Calero, his use of colour and a fairly dark palate, as well as his choice of panel layout. Only fourteen of the original twenty-eight stories are included in this volume, unfortunately, and several of this reviewer’s favourite stories are among those that are missing. For the most part, though, the Martians, their environment, and their interaction with each other and the travelers are effectively rendered, allowing the reader thoughtful access into the tales and the worlds they encompass. Calero incorporates Bradbury’s dialogue and writing style into his own 1950s-style interpretation of the selected stories.
Something Wicked This Way Comes, originally published in 1962 and illustrated here in black and white by Ron Wimberly, is satisfying in its rendition of the spooky and dark tones of the original text. The two thirteen-year-old boys, the circus, the small town, Mr. Dark, and the creepy and sinister Pandemonium Shadow Show come to life in the raw-boned illustrations. All of the characters are portrayed as distinct individuals, with their facial expressions and body language adding an animated level to Wimberly’s storytelling. Dialogue and narration boxes, filled with Bradbury’s original wording, share the textual telling of the story. In some panels the narration is absolutely necessary to move the story forward, as the compression of the visual images chosen to accompany the story leave a gap for those not already familiar with the story. Bradbury’s introduction to this volume is even more concise than that offered in The Martian Chronicles and does not seem to have any personal reference to the graphic novel adaptation itself. Both introductions, however, do signify that both of these volumes are “The Authorized Adaptation,” as proudly proclaimed on the title pages and book jackets.
Both of these adaptations, one of a classic science fiction story and the other of a classic fantasy and horror tale, are welcome additions for young readers coming across Ray Bradbury for the first time. Both should satisfy the reader, but also may spur readers to follow these books with more Bradbury stories, in all of their diverse editions and formats.
Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles: the authorized adaptation
by Ray Bradbury
Art by Dennis Calero
Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes: the authorized adaptation
by Ray Bradbury
Art by Ron Wimberly
Hill and Wang, 2011
Publisher Age Rating: 14+