Graphic Classics #3: H.G. Wells
by Tom Pomplun, editor
(Eureka, 2005)

The Graphic Classics line is a perfect fit for H.G. Wells' grand visions. The brevity demanded by the comic form cuts down on some of the exposition and descriptive passages that might deter new readers and puts Wells' strange creatures and inventions on prime display.

The collection contains Wells' best-known stories along with some unusual choices. "The Invisible Man" and "The Time Machine" are both well represented, adapted with great dexterity by Rod Lott and Antonella Caputo, respectively. Since either could occupy a good-sized graphic novel on its own, it's no small wonder to find them boiled down to anthology size without any loss of power.

But the less familiar short stories offer a faster and no less satisfying immersion in Wells' world of strange science and stranger people. Tom Pomplun reveals the horror of "The Inexperienced Ghost." Rich Tommaso's simple, inviting art is perfect for both the ennui of the story's retelling and the shock lurking in its center. Dan O'Neill presents "The Man Who Could Work Miracles" through unassuming art as shaky as a memory. Elaborate but understated, his illustrations make the impossible tale seem a reasonable if embarrassing personal recounting of history. Brad Teare illuminates the cold apocalypse of "The Star" with only one dialogue balloon, otherwise letting Earth wait out its doom in oppressive silence. Teare's stark, high-contrast art is more effective for this brief nightmare than any Technicolor extravaganza.

Antonella Caputo also takes special advantage of the narrative flexibility of comics for his inspired revision of The War of the Worlds: The Story of Orson Welles' 1938 Radio Broadcast. Instead of retreading the story so soon after yet another Hollywood retelling, he focuses on the infamous radio broadcast that threw much of America into a panic. Alternating panels change focus: from Orson Welles and the broadcast crew in the Spartan radio studios, to the images of alien terror the broadcast inspires, to the very real chaos and danger in the cities caused by human panic over a Halloween story grown out of hand. Nick Miller's art perfectly captures the hysteria and humor of the night. It's a clever new look at an old story, and sure to spark discussion.

The same can be said for Graphic Classics: H.G. Wells in general. With appealing art and a modern eye for pacing, Graphic Classics makes it easy to enter the worlds of H.G. Wells, while showing both comics and science fiction at their best.

by Sarah Meador
1 April 2006

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