Tom Pomplun’s series of classic comics anthologies, Graphic Classics has long followed its unique publishing schedule: alternating new collections with revisited editions of previous books. Eureka Production’s last set of brand fresh material was 2013’s Native American Classics. More recently, the line has issued its second re-tweaked version of its third collection, H.G. Wells. The set is substantially different from its first and second editions — with eighty new pages of black-and-white art and story in its 144 pages. New to the set are adaptations of The Time Machine and The Island of Dr. Moreau; returning are graphic versions of The Invisible Man plus lesser known short works “The Inexperienced Ghost” and “The Star.”
The book’s repeat GN adaptation, Rod Lott and Simon Gane’s version of The Invisible Man, proves a little less visually traditional, showcasing Gane’s sardonically cartoonish take on Wells’ s-f horror tale. Perusing it, I couldn’t help recalling James Whale’s 1933 movie version of the story with Whale’s typical blend of the grotesquely comic and horrific.
If I keep coming back to movie versions of these works, perhaps it’s because Wells’ novels have arguably sparked more diverse and classic films than any other science-fantasist. It’s a testament to the artists in this book that they’re able to hold their own against already established images that many of us have in our heads.
The shorter returning works in the book prove slighter but satisfying: editor Pomplun and Rich Tommaso’s version of “The Inexperienced Ghost” provides a witty take on one of the writer’s more lighthearted works, while Brad Teare’s five-page woodcut version of the apocalyptic “The Star” proves moodily reminiscent of the works of graphic storytelling pioneer Lynd Ward. The set opens with an amusing one-page “Believe It Or Not” parody by Mort Castle and Kevin Atkinson recounting the too-brief meetings between Wells and Orson Welles, who notoriously panicked radio listeners in 1938 thirties with his adaptation of War of the Worlds. This meeting of the minds proved anything but groundbreaking, as the actor/moviemaker used the occasion to primarily plug his upcoming Citizen Kane. Sometimes innovators are only interested in plugging their own works.[amazon template=iframe image&chan=default&asin=0982563078]