Saturday, February 16, 2008

Cory Doctorow's Futuristic Tales

Science fiction and comic books have almost always led parallel lives. Their history and fandoms have many similarities, and the two have almost always had a slightly uneasy relationship. While there have been several examples of successful licensed science-fiction properties in comics -- for example, Star Wars -- two examples of sf comics have affected me most strongly.

In the early '50s, Al Feldstein adapted 27 of Ray Bradbury's stories for EC Comics. They accurately capture the tone and tenor of Bradbury's writing, particularly stories such as those in the Martian Chronicles, where Bradbury blends malaise and energetic speculation quite ably. And I vaguely recall a backup story in an issue of Captain Victory, that Jack Kirby comic published by Pacific Comics in the early '80s, that almost blew my mind. I don't remember the artist or writer, much less if there were a previous source, but it's about a comet that turns out to be inscribed with alien script. Shades of Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen King's Tommyknockers, things don't turn out so well for the astronauts who make that discovery.

The first issue of Cory Doctorow's Futuristic Tales of the Here and Now doesn't hit me as strongly as those previous examples of science-fiction comics, but it is an interesting case. And I'd like to thank Andrea Larson of Elure Marketing for sending me the issue. With a Sam Kieth cover (oh, that Maxx! That Zero Girl!), the first issue adapts Cory's story "Anda's Game," which is a play on Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game.

The interior art by Esteve Polls isn't as impressive as the cover, but it's a solid interpretation of Cory's story, which was originally published in Salon and Cory's collection Overclocked. Perhaps more interesting is the brief interview with Cory by editor Tom Waltz, which touches somewhat on the adaptation process.

So, does Cory's work translate well to comics? "Anda's Game" might not translate especially well because it's an idea story and a political story that doesn't lend itself terribly well to action or high-impact visuals. But I enjoyed the read and hope to see the others at some point -- perhaps they'll be collected.

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