Friday, October 28, 2011

OCTOBER COMICS - Universal Monsters adaptations

The Universal Monster films hold a dear place in many people’s hearts. They’re fun and, as a boy, were great for a scare when I watched them on television late at night. So, when Dark Horse published comic adaptations of some of these classic films back in the early 90s, I was onboard.

It’s been a number of years since I read them, but I remember enjoying these books immensely. The adaptations were very true to the movies from which they derived, and, as it is when we see Iron Man or Batman on the silver screen, it was a thrill to have these stories in a new medium for which I have such passion.

Dark Horse did a stellar job of pulling together creators for these books. Art Adams and Tony Harris are the obvious “name” stars to have contributed to this short series. Adams’s meticulous linework in the “Creature from the Black Lagoon” and his notable detail offer a fully-realized and icky swamp for this creature to reside in. Conversely, Harris’s more flowing ink style fit well with the fraying wraps of the mummy, bringing this encumbered figure to vivid, haunting life.

However, despite the involvement of Harris and Adams on this project, I was more anxious for the Frankenstein adaptation from Denis Beauvais. I was familiar with Beauvais’s painting from Dark Horse’s Aliens books. And he did not disappoint. His use of color and ability to evoke atmosphere through his painting fit this book perfectly. Easily, this is my favorite of the bunch.

And finally, Dracula was brought to life by Dan Vado, “supreme commander” of Slave Labor Graphics, and J.D. Smith, who works primarily as a colorist in the comics field today. Like Frankenstein, these two were able to imbue their adaptation with the atmosphere evoked in the film. The soft linework of Smith worked well in this respect.

Are these books scary? No. Are the original films considered scary by today’s standards? No. But these books are fun, and, if you enjoyed the Universal Monster films when you were younger, reading one of these will touch that nostalgic part of you that is also what keeps us reading comics. And that, to me, seems fitting.


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