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The Lost World: Comics

COMICS

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

The Lost World in four colours has not been reduced to strict adaptations of the original novel.

64 Page Giant America's Best Comics #1 features a centrefold board-game based on Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill's incredible Steampunk comic The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. The game is jam-packed with the references to obscure Victorian literary characters and situations that made the comic itself a hit, and square 44 has a familiar theme for LW fans. On it, which is seen below, the player faces "Curipuri", and the text reads: "Man-apes and giant reptiles. Nothing about this in the brochure. Furious with travel agent. Return to start." Talk about disasterous!!

Also, in case you were curious, the figure in the upper right corner of the picture is Dr. Moreau, in square 67. The bit in the lower left corner is the nose of Moby Dick in square 18.



Challenger vs. the Harpies,
by Donald Marquz


There have been several comic adaptations of Professor Challenger's exploits, but not too many and none that were particularily widespread and well known. There was an adaptation of the 1960 film by Gold Key, but most adaptations have come out in the 1990's and 2000's.

In the dinosaur summer of 1993, there appeared a publicantion called Dinosaur Times; a newspaper format periodical for children (of all ages) which lasted for 3 or 4 print issues before evolving into the acclaimed Dinosaur Interplanetary Gazette website. One of the features of this newspaper was an ongoing comic strip adaptation of The Lost World. The strip featured art by legendary Grey Morrow, famed for the sydicated Tarzan newspaper comic, and began with writing by Don Kraar and later taken over by Bob Madison. The story stayed as close to the source material as a one-page comic serial could, but saddly only lasted as long as the publication did.

So far, the Dinosaur Interplanetary Gazette has not published the remaining strips, if indeed they were ever completed. Unfortunately, the Gazette also promised an online comic based on Willis O'Brien's unrealized Creation project, but it went equally unfinished and unpublished.


Panel from the Dinosaur Times strip.

In 1996, Millenium Comics published a two part adaptation of The Lost World in comic format. Adapted and illustrated by Donald Marquez, this comic actually succeeds in keeping with the novel for the most part. The storyline remains essentially the same, with the standard plot tightenings and a couple additions added for painful obvious but usually unsuccessful reasons. The primary example of this is the native girl Marata, who was a contrieved attempt to add romantic interest by changing the novel's boy prince into a lady-in-distress for Malone. Luckily however, this does not detract from the story too much. This is even more delightfully surprising considering the catalogue hype for the comic made all sorts of disheartening claims about native girls in need of rescue from T-rexes and other things that had no basis in the book itself. Lukily the hype had no basis in the finished comic either. Marquez does place a somewhat anachronistic speech about warm-bloodedness in dinosaurs in Challenger's mouth, but admirably leaves the touchy subject of the novel's racism completely alone.


Panel from Donald Marquez's The Lost World.

The artwork is servicable; not horrible, but not outstanding either. Marquez does attempt to update the novel with modern palaeontology, but perhaps a few better books with better pictures to draw from would have been in order. The characters themselves are not terrible representations of the characters from the novel... Challenger looks similar to the scraggly Wallace Beery, Malone looks a little on oafish side, Summerlee is reminiscent of an aged Willy Wonka, and Gladys has a vacant look in her glittering eye that the fantasy-comic oriented Marquez tends to put on all his women.

Professor Challenger: The Poison Belt, published by Caliber Comic's Tome Press line, was written and drawn by the same Donald Marquez who adapted The Lost World for Milleneum Press. In fact, it was advertized on the final page of The Lost World comic, only finding a home at the now defunct Caliber. This one-shot is actually a servicable adaptation of the book. Being contained within the body of one average size comic, there was a serious amount of script tightening going on, with whole sequences in chapters being omited. Oddly though, Marquez thought to leave in several extraneous portions, such as jokes, that while having a place in the story, seemed to unceremoniously stick out in the comic.

The art is the same as that in Marquez's The Lost World, both in style and character template. Seen here for the first time is Challenger's wife who, while not quite the somewhat aged waif implied in the series, has that same glassy-eyed vacant look.


Panel from Donald Marquez's Professor Challenger: The Poison Belt.

If the end seems somewhat contrived as an attempt to set up for something greater - the book ended with a sermon about humanity's future direction, the comic ended with Challenger setting himself up and his troupe as lone guardians of humanity itself - it was intentional. Caliber originally intended Professor Challenger to be an ongoing series which would adapt existing adventures and craft new ones. Like all the best laid plans though, this particular one was shored up by the fact that few people cared much for the issue.

Donald Marquez will not be conquered though! Debuting in January 2001 was his own anthology comic Fantastic Stories. In this attempt to recapture the glory days of the old EC magazines (like Tale from the Crypt), Marquez has come around to adapting The Disintegration Machine in issue #1 and When the World Screamed in issues #2 and #3. The adaptations are as servicible as previous ones, most of their weight being due to the source material. Thankfully he was finally able to complete the proper Challenger Adventures, since issue #3 also marked the last issue of Fantastic Stories.

Thus is the story of The Lost World in the medium of comic books. No doubt in the future we will see many more adaptations of this classic tale.

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