09 April 2009

Adapting Prose to Comics Form

Graphic Novel Reporter asked five editors who've worked on comics adaptations of prose works (particularly "classics"--i.e., still-recognized works without picky live authors or copyright protection) about what makes that transition work.

In answer to the question "What types of prose books are the most suited for adapting to the graphic format?", three of those editors offered responses that seem typically gung-ho for fans of the medium.

Ralph Macchio, Marvel: I think the kind most suited are the ones with the most visual elements. If you have a book which is largely a drawing room drama, which occurs largely in one room, it probably won’t work so well as a novel with great action scenes and stunning landscapes.

Ernst Dabel, Dabel Brothers: As long as it’s an excellent story, then it should be adapted for fans to enjoy.

Marco Pavia, Tokyopop: I don’t think there’s a limit; in my experience, it begins with an editor who has a vision.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's up to Betsy Mitchell of Del Rey Books to acknowledge market realities, the elephant in the room:
Betsy: Due to the costs involved in hiring so many contributors to the job--pencilers, inkers, scripters, letterers, colorists if the work is in four-color--economics demand that authors who have a large and loyal fan following are the best choice for adaptation. Titles with a strong dose of the fantastic seem to have been the most successful so far...
Big names and fantasy. Which is kind of where we came in.

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