There's a certain something about the Graphic Novel that comes with it it's own very distinctive feel that other mediums simply cannot match. I know that may sound obvious and even a little simplistic, but you should know by now that's just how my mind often works. What I'm trying to get at is the ability of the graphic novel to take a familiar subject and transform it into a powerful medium all of its very own. All the while retaining the comfortable familiarity of it's more familiar version to the masses, usually TV or movies.
For me it doesn't really matter what comes first, the Graphic Novel or the TV series. The thing is, I don't tend myself to get that precious about how the written word will fare under TV or film adaptation. There are some within the Scifi, horror & fantasy community who feel a strong degree of 'ownership' of literary material that to a unknowing third party would seem that it was actually them who had written it in the first place. Don't get me wrong, I can certainly understand the feeling of 'ownership'. But I don't agree with it.
To be honest, I sincerely believe that different mediums are entitled to treat the source material in any way they want. Reading a book is an entirely different experience from watching the same thing on screen, which is as it should be. I could never understand the controversy amongst fans (and I am a big time fan) about the adaptations of The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and Game of Thrones, to name but three.
If you love the books then simply don't give a flying fig about an adaptation that deviates from the source material. Honestly, who cares? The original source material will always be there to be cherished. And do you know something else? (I'm saying this quietly now), but sometimes those changes can work.......cough....Haldir's Elves at The Battle of Helms Deep....cough!.......really works in the movie...........cough.
A case in point is that of The Walking Dead. I discovered the Graphic Novels a couple of years after they first appeared back in the dim and distant days of 2003. Yes, yes I know......once again I was quite ineptly behind the times. It certainly wasn't the first or last time. To be precise it was the summer of 2006 in which I first discovered the stunning artwork and storytelling that depicted a world where an unknown apocalyptic event has transformed the majority of the human population into slobbering, rotting flesh-eating zombies (In other words, Sheffield on a Saturday night).
A few years later (2010 to be once again precise) I learnt that the story was going to be adapted for TV, much to the suspicion and jealousy of some of my fellow Walking dead aficionados. I must admit that for a time I too shared their disquiet, though maybe not quite for the same reasons. I had read for months before the show aired many comments of fans worried in regard to such things as the authenticity of the story being lost and the potential of a glossy and insipid watering down of the gore for TV. There were indeed a plethora of other Graphic Novel fan concerns.
I did try to dislike the TV series, I really did. Even when I heard that the mercurial Frank Darabont was going to be initially at the helm I had decided beforehand that I simply didn't want to be part of of what I saw as the inevitable watering down in the mainstreaming and mass-popularity that would take place. I can remember on that night in 2010 when I sat in front of my television to watch the 1st episode, arms crossed and a fixed facial expression that signified that I wasn't going to enjoy myself, no matter what.
Well five seasons later, that has somewhat changed, Actually, if truth be told it changed about 3 or 4 minutes into that first episode. Yes, the show deviated almost immediately from the comic source material, and in probably in far too many ways that irked many fellow comic fans. In fact there are far too many examples of how the show has changed the original concept and storyline to mention them all here. So I won't.
Is a TV series better then the comic? Is it important that specific narratives and characters are changed, embellished or even removed? Well to be honest I couldn't really care less. The simple fact is that the Graphic Novels should be treated as entirely different mediums - who cares how they differ? I don't. I say just enjoy them for what they are - they are perhaps the most effective and powerful medium of story telling that there is.
So you can imagine by personal geeky delight when the I learnt of the recent release celebrating 50 Years of Classic Star Trek Graphic Novels - oh deep joy!
There are a few people that know me reasonably well (sorry to those of you that includes, I can never stop apologising) who are more than familiar with my Star Trek obsessions, specifically the 2nd in the original movie franchise series Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
The genius that underpinned Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan was initially two-fold. Firstly it immediately tapped into the nostalgic obsession of the TV series by using the inspiration of the story from a 1967 episode, 'Space Seed' in which Kirk and the Enterprise crew had battled with the genetically modified group of humans and their charismatic leader, Khan. The film sees the fight re-engaged when Khan and his group escape from their 15 year banishment to what had become an inhospitable planet. At the start of proceedings we encounter a recently promoted Admiral Kirk who rather than boldly going etc etc is more concerned with his ever-growing age, failing eyesight and boredom. Kirk's fate however is soon intertwined with Khan, obsessed with taking his revenge together with control of the Genesis device, a secret Starfleet technology than can render life from lifeless planets. The second stroke of genius was the inclusion of the death towards the end of the film of perhaps Star Trek's most iconic character....
Oh bugger, spoiler alert......... too soon?
For the very first time ever, half a century of Star Trek comics have been collected together in a single delicious series. I don't know about you, but a collection that spans 50 years and includes many of the seminal moments in Star Trek lore is mouth-watering to say the very least. Do we really want or need the chance to revisit all the classic characters and incredible art from the STAR TREK comic archives? The chance to experience every edition with a specially-commissioned introduction to provide context to the story? The chance to see a number of collected comics and a bonus reprint of one of the comic archive’s classic stories?
Oh yes we bloody well do!
So excited are we here at 5D headquarters about this release that it is our intention to produce regular features and reviews about a number of the publications - especially in regard to some of the promised 'lost tales and characters'. For example there is the inclusion of the legendary Harlan Ellison's original version of the all time classic episode and frequent headliner of Trek 'best of' lists - City on the edge of forever. In fact the next edition features that very release so it feels particularly fitting that this will mark the first of the blog reviews.
If all that wasn't enough there is the long overdue inclusion of long lost characters such as the Vulcan Xon, who was created by a certain Mr G Roddenberry, plus Arex and M'Ress from the classic animated series. In addition the collection features a veritable star-studded cast of Trek TV writers such as David Gerrold (who created the Tribbles), Robert Orci and Alex Kurtzman (who wrote the re-imagined Star Trek & Star Trek Into Darkeness films) as well as other TV/movie writers including Brannon Braga and D.C Fontana.
Strap yourselves in people, this is going to be a helluva ride!