Friday, July 10, 2009

The Dabel Brothers' EOTW Issue #01 - A Review

Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time, Eye of the World Issue #01 - May 2009

Publisher: Ernst Dabel, for The Dabel Brothers
Adaptation: Chuck Dixon
Artwork: Chase Conley
Cover art: Chase Conley; alternate covers by Salida and Seamas
Colours: Nicolas Chapuis
Editors: Ernst Dabel & Rich Young
Project Manager: Derek Ruiz

Reviewed by Dominic

So, issue #01 of the adaption of The Eye of the World is here, and pretty much on time for all those who doubted.

This issue devotes its 32 pages entirely to the events of chapters one - The Quarry Road and two - Strangers. This pace is a good choice and allows Dixon and Conley to include much of the details we love from the series. Give or take a few shortcuts and minor changes (some of them clever ways to get more of the dialogue in without needing too many static cells, by having Ewin join the boys a bit sooner for example) - the essence of the chapters is there, and Dixon is again very good at condensing Jordan's story. It's really fun to see Emond's Field more minor figures like Daise and Wit, Cenn Buie and Ewin Finngar get their few cells of fame. It would be all too easy to get rid of those little moments... and lose much of the Jordan flavour doing that.

I've wondered how Conley would handle characters that had been established by Mike S. Miller in New Spring and was quite pleased to see he stuck with Miller's character designs for Moiraine and Lan, aging them accordingly. An highlight of the issue is the design of Mat, which is funny and pretty much spot on. Conley does a very good job conveying Mat's mischevious side. His rendition of Cenn is also funny yet creepy. The duo have kept the introduction of the Village Council for a later issue, having Rand and Mat bring the brandy casks (that became huge barrels here for some reason) without crossing the common room.

The colouring continues in the vein of the prologue issue (Ravens' rather than the more limited palette used for Dragonmount), more impressionistic, less realistic and detailed than the style that was adopted for New Spring. It does give the story a properly bleak feeling, though I guess I preferred the look of New Spring, personally. I'll get used to it after a while.

Somewhat a disappointment with this issue is the absence of 'Eye Candy' shots the DB had spoiled us with before in New Spring. Mike S. Miller had used us to stunning views of the locations that added much to his adaptation, like these amazing views of Tar Valon you could spend a lot of time looking at, observing all the details and his attention to render Jordan's descriptions faithfully. That is absent from the adaptation of The Eye of the World so far. I'm sure these cells in New Spring were a big investment in the penciller's time and in research in the books to make them faithful, but for fans of the books this effort was more than worth it. It was a bit of a surprise that Conley and co. rather decided to stick closer to the characters and action instead of devoting a few cells or a half page to show us a nice wide view of Emond's Field, the surroundings of the Winespring Inn, the Green and maypole, the spring, the bridges and the Mill away south. If the action to cover is too packed to allow it, I think it would be great to get such drawings of the locations as a back cover or among the pages devoted to ads. The worldbuilding and descriptions are very important in WOT and it'd be nice to see this reflected in the Graphic Novel version some more over the next issues.

Now, the Db team collectively loses a few points for making Bela neither shaggy nor brown - which some might say is the equivalent of turning Lassie into a golden retriever or german shepherd, no less. :D Quite a can of worms they opened there, though I guess none of the guys on the team realised how much of a sacred cow Bela is in some circles. :P (note to the DB team: you'd be well advised to stick closely to RJ's description of each horse, you just don't realise yet how much grief you will get from the WOT horses cultists in the long run otherwise! I would also double check if you got Scratch the cat right in the next issue as well if I were you - and start getting ready to getting each individual wolf right too... you just underestimate the whole WOT animal cult at this point!!). In the same department (and with the same humour), it was a nice touch to add Bran's mayor medallion, but it's silver, not gold (but there I guess it's my obsession with symbolism that made me even notice that...)

But other than the grievous sin against Bela, so far so good - I'm looking forward to the next issue, that will introduce Perrin, Thom, Egwene and Nynaeve (the concept art for Nynaeve is one of those the Dabels have shown lately, and it's really quite good).

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