Who needs Cliffs Notes when you’ve got the web? Recently I stumbled on two webcomics based on classic books, each completely different but each well worth a look. Somehow I made it through college and grad school without reading the originals, but the comics versions are so entertaining I’m tempted to pick them up.
The War of the Worlds: This is a straightforward adaptation by Ian Edginton of H.G. Wells’ novel of the same name, rendered with a smooth, very readable look by artist D’Israeli. The story is straightforward: Aliens arrive from Mars and terrorize the populace for a while but ultimately are dispatched in a surprising and satisfying way. For a story about aliens terrorizing the earth, this comic is strangely soothing. Maybe it’s the glimpses of pastoral English countrysides.
Captain August: About a year ago, Dutch artist Roderick Leermakers decided that his sci-fi webcomic was going nowhere and that maybe he should take a break and let someone else do the plotting: Herman Melville. Over the past year, he has produced a slightly warped version of Moby Dick, mapping the novel’s characters onto his own motley crew (Captain Ahab becomes Captain August, Starbuck becomes Starnuchâ€”like that). This works for two reasons. One is Leermakers’ flat pen-and-ink style, which is well suited to the subject. His drawings look almost like woodcuts or old-fashioned illustrations, evoking the atmosphere of the period. The other is his pacing. The comic moves pretty quickly but keeps enough of the original dialogue to retain an authentic feel.