Hermit living and general, hedonistic ignorance have kept me largely oblivious about the criteria on which comic books win prestigious awards, but while I’m not privy to those esoterics, I have no problem singing the praises of the comic book adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.
There’s some kind of TV adaptation of American Gods in the pipleline isn’t there? This might have some clue as to the origins of this comic series from Dark Horse Comics. As such, you’d wonder why they didn’t come out with the comics sooner, because by all standards, this is a comic of fantastic quality. Gaiman and P Craig Russell have been credited as the comic’s writers, but anyone who’s read the novel lately (yes Mrs English teacher, give me a gold star!) might recognise large portions of the novel being paraphrased or straight up lifted directly from the source pages. This isn’t something to take lightly, as exemplary editorial skill would’ve been necessary to decide what makes the cut from the novel to the literal drawing board (unless of course Scott Hampton exclusively uses digital media). Speaking of magnificent artwork, Hampton’s contributions display a deep sense of care and ambition. His choice of angles, colour combinations, and a range of strokes result in images that feel realistic, vivid and textured. This is not the kind of artwork that features in too many comics these days, and this comic is all the better for it.
As someone who’s read the book fairly recently (a month or so ago, without a clue that the comic was out) there was nothing I could fault with this comic. I was happy to learn that the artist’s depiction of Wednesday wasn’t as unkind as my own mental image of the character. (I actually pictured Wednesday as a Rodney Dangerfield type, with the bulging eyeballs that are perfect for leering at small town motel front desk clerks and barely legal waitresses.) So I doubled back and pulled up the novel to skim through the opening chapter. What happens next will shock you! No, please don’t stop reading – that was just a shoutout to the lame headline writers of clickbait infamy, but you already know that don’t you, you intelligent so-and-so! All dicksucking aside, I discovered during my skim that there were some inconsistencies between Gaiman’s descriptions of character appearances in the novel and in the comic. While this has mostly only been seen with a couple of jailbirds, I wonder if I’m allowed to feel as dissatisfied as I did with the depiction of Shadow. I always pictured him as more of a line-backer, or a meathead marine with a heart of gold, but the artist had different ideas.
Interestingly, at one point during the reading, I marvelled at the word count per page and thought for an instasec that maybe it was a little too verbose. These foul thoughts soon vanished when good sense returned, with the realisation that those were more likely the thoughts of inane selfie-addicts and twitter-freaks. (These special breeds no likey words but likey hashtags and likes very much). I can happily report that this comic was a fun parallel to the novel, and I’m hoping that all further instalments feature the little chapterettes at the end of chapters like the novel did. If the success of the American Gods novel was anything to go by, then it’s a safe bet that Neil Gaiman can look forward to a string of accolades for the comic book adaptation of the story of Shadow.
And so, gentle reader, I’d highly recommend that you go outside to your nearest comic shop and buy American Gods now! Spend time outdoors, life is too short and you’ll never be as young as you are right now. In fact, buy this book and read it during a picnic or something.