Saturday, February 7, 2009

Dabel Brothers post two new WOT images

By Dominic

The Dabel Brothers have posted new image from their upcoming comic book adaptation of The Eye of the World in this Dragonmount Announcement.

After the sour turn their New Spring adaptation project took (in a complex imbroglio caused by Red Eagle Entertainment, now solved and not worth getting into), I'm still waltzing between excitement and mild scepticism concerning the new project.

The guys picked by DB for the WOT project(s) are very talented, and the work on New Spring was often outstanding and very interesting to follow month after month. Good art - often better than good art, and a surprisingly good adaptation, considering the complexity of the novel. Adapting the whole series is however such a massive, many years endeavour. I'm not convinced just yet they will manage to bring even the first book to its end (and not necessarily by their fault, mind you - with REE out of the picture and Tor involved in the publication of the issues in graphic novel form, a drop in sales would be a more likely reason the project could come to an early end), and the possibility we may begin the journey but never get to finish it damper my enthusiasm a bit.

The new images are very nice - to my taste a bit too stylized in the character design compared to the art direction chosen for New Spring, perhaps - and they are apparently for the cover(s) of issue #1.

They've used some artistic license there - early morning in late spring somehow looks more lik sunset in autumn - and this changes the atmosphere early book one scenes evoke with me. Though, admittedly, cover art is a different game and the DB took similar license with the covers of New Spring, while the content of the comic book adaptation itself remained a lot more faithful to the novel.

Alas, some of that faithfulness that made New Spring even more interesting may have had quite a bit to do with the close involvement of Jim Rigney with the project, and his enthusiasm to get faithful WOT art at last. Part of the attraction of New Spring by the DB was that RJ saw it as an opportunity to guide talented artists into making renditions from his world for his fans. And for once, this was to be done by people who cared to bring his vision faithfully to the page, not artists commissioned to create covert art under the direction of marketing execs and the like.

For many years, Jordan had been dissatisfied with WOT art like the covers or the illustrations from the BWB, and the DB were giving him a new chance to 'get it right'. With the Dabel Brothers he got gorgeous renditions from his world, with attention to details in costumes and architecture. The rendition of a bird view of Tar Valon from an early issue was especially stunning then and still is now, looking again at the comic book. With his passing, let us hope the adaptators at DB make can make full use of Harriet and RJ's assistants as advisors, though all the little insight RJ could offer, all these little details that weren't in his notes but only in his head, or that he created along way, inspired by the rough version the artists sent him, are now lost forever. They probably miss that collaboration as much as we do, however.

This project remains exciting, far more so for me than the possibility Universal goes forward with a film adaptation of the novel, a format I personally find totally inappropriate for the series. As with many other 'long winded' authors of renown like Alexandre Dumas (whose work became fairly disappointing mini-series and movies, especially the awful Hollywoodian versions), a main attraction to the Wheel of Time is in the details of plots, characters, descriptions and atmospheres. Rushing and cutting WoT would degrade it to standard fantasy fare, and that's without going into the massive problem created by Jordan's decision to evoke 'Fellowship of the Ring" and its plot a lot in the early parts of The Eye of the World (he intentionally wanted the reader to feel comfortable with a well-known setting, before suddenly opening his world to something quite different from LOTR once they leave the Two Rivers), with the ensuing big risk that after the movie adaptation Wheel of Time is perceived by movie-goers who haven't read the books as a 'sub-standard LOTR rip-off'. The series's legacy, often unrecognized and unfairly maligned by readers of Fantasy and critics in the last years, deserves better than the REE/Universal project.

Comics and graphic novels are much more interesting, as they leave a lot more to the reader's imagination, especially when they're done by talented artists like the team the DB have assembled for the WOT project.

Good luck guys. With such an ambitious project you'll certainly need it, but it will be a treat to follow these issues month after month.