Nut Ink. Mini reviews of texts old and new. No fuss. No plot spoilers. No adverts. Occasional competency.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Fahrenheit 451: The Authorized Adaptation (2009)

Author: Ray Bradbury | Illustrator: Tim Hamilton | Page Count: 149

"Books, so the damned snobbish critics said, were dishwater.
No wonder books stopped selling.  The public, knowing what it wanted, let the comic books survive."

A comic adaptation of Bradbury’s classic novel; I've already reviewed the novel HERE so I won't go over the plot again.  This transition from novel to comic is fully authorised by Bradbury so you would expect a faithful retelling.  (He doesn't let just anyone have his works, he recently told his publisher to “go to hell” when they wanted to release 451 as an e-book.  Sadly he was forced to give in, once more proving that the publishing world has caught up with the film world in not giving a damn about the author’s intentions.)

It uses Bradbury’s own dialogue but the majority of the descriptive language is lost, and it’s that part of writing that Bradbury excels in.  His character dialogue is often simplistic and minimal.  Also, there are some parts of the story absent.  I was expecting that but mercifully it’s not enough to dilute the story too much.  It’s heavily abridged but it’s not overly dismissive; it’s made some changes that are acceptable to facilitate a different medium, and some which aren't.  It retains the same concerns and sense of urgency in action but the loss of that descriptive language is a severe handicap, especially the ending which is hurried and lifeless.

The artwork is excellent.  The frame in never cluttered, it shows only what’s important and does it from some interesting angles.  On the down side, it's that lazy digital colouring technique that I really don't like; it's turning comics into a standardised art form that keeps everything the same (ironically similar to one of the themes of the novel).  It uses a muted palette of earthy browns and cold blues, contrasted with the fiery orange and yellow of the flames when the firemen do their thing.  The best part of the colouring is the wonderful use of shadows and blacks; they are deep and symbolic, casting faces in gloom and insinuating secrets and character failings.  It reminds me somewhat of Tim Sale’s work on Batman, or the colouring in Mignola’s Hellboy comics.

There is too much missing from the story to recommend this as an alternative to the novel but enough included to perhaps inspire someone to move from the pictures to the prose.  In that respect, it's partially successful.

2½ shadows in the bedroom out of 5

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