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Graphic Classics, H.G. Wells (Eureka Productions, 2005)

Graphic Classics: H G Wells.

Of course those of us who have the greatest respect for the work of H G Wells would like nothing better than for people to try the original books, but it has to be acknowledged that the writing style could be a barrier. Kudos then to Wisconsin based publisher Eureka Productions for giving these venerable works a new lease of life by reinterpreting them in graphic format. Just republished in a new edition is their take on a number of classic stories from Wells, featuring 95 new pages (out of the 144).

Of greatest interest to readers of this website will be the War of the Worlds, not the original Wells novel, but in fact the story behind the Orson Welles broadcast. Nicely if somewhat inaccurately illustrated by Nick Miller, (his maniacal looking Welles sports a beard which he did not adopt until later in life), it alternates between scenes set in the studio and the reaction of listeners. This structure works well, but I would be remiss if I did not mention some gripes about the script by Antonella Caputo. A young boy complains that he is going to miss Buck Rogers when his mother switches to the broadcast (Buck Rogers was not airing opposite the broadcast) and Welles is credited with dialogue that he did actually read during the broadcast. On a more positive note, the passion and tension of the night is strongly evoked, though the temptation to overplay the destruction proves too much to resist. Readers should not assume that shops were looted and windows smashed.

So a flawed but certainly unique attempt to tell the story of the broadcast, and certainly an excellent starting point for younger readers to begin their own investigations of the event. School teachers might then find this section especially useful.

Graphic Classics, H.G. Wells interior.The Invisible Man is probably the most successful collaboration of dialogue and images, with a really unique style on offer from Simon Gane that seems to suit ideally the period he is trying to evoke. Other stories tackled within these pages include The Time Machine and The Man Who Could Work Miracles.

I'm not sure I fully concur with the publishers avowed intention to remove or minimize racist and sexist language from their range of "graphic anthologies" as they prefer to style them, though the Wells stories on offer here present (to my knowledge at least) nothing in the original that would raise such concerns. I suppose in trying to create works that are accessible to adults and children alike, a degree of care is required, but by and large, I feel parents rather than publisher's should be responsible for guiding their children in their understanding of literature, warts and all.

Still, on the evidence of this volume, these Graphic Classics should serve as a good introduction to some amazing literature that in this age of Harry Potter may otherwise be lost to our younger generation. If you are a Wells fan and have children who turn their nose up at the originals, this might well be your salvation, though my seven year old daughter got a few pages into The Invisible Man and politely put it aside in favour of Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory. I suspect though that may have been more a case of unfamiliarity with the graphic storytelling medium than any specific dislike of this volume. I'll try her again when she is eight.


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See also in:


Marvel Classics: The War of the Worlds

Marvel Classic Comics: The War of the Worlds. The novel gets a more extreme and faithful comic book makeover from Marvel.

Science Fiction Classics 19

Science Fiction Classics. The War of the Worlds is adaptated along with several other classics of the genre.

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