Wednesday, December 20, 2006

ABADAZAD v1 by DeMatteis & Ploog

A couple of years a failing comic book publisher put out three issues of a fantasy series by J.M. DeMatteis and Mike Ploog called ABADAZAD. Now a few years later it returns, with the same creators, now owned by Disney and published as a series of small hardcover books with a mix of prose, comics and illustration.

The series is about a 14-year-old girl named Kate who finds herself drawn into a fantasy world called Abadazad, which she knows as a series of early 20th century fantasy novels (in the vein of Oz and Wonderland) but now finds out were inspired by a real and much more complex world. In this world she hopes to find her long-missing and presumed dead younger brother Matt, who's been kidnapped by the villain of the realm, the Lanky Man.

In the original most of the story was straight comics, narrated by Kate, with a few pages of text taken from the supposed Abadazad novels. In this new version the narration is presented more explicitly as Kate's enchanted diary (a story element in the actual tale), where the illustrations (even of events she wasn't there for) appear by magic. Some parts of the story are still told as straight comics, and the samples of the "novels" still appear, though shorter than they were originally.

The first two books were published recently, THE ROAD TO INCONCEIVABLE and THE DREAM THIEF. The first one pretty much retells the first two issues of the comic book, and I guess the second (which I haven't read yet) continues with the third issue and beyond into previously untold segments of the story.

I enjoyed the first book, though maybe not quite as much as the original comics. That might just have been caused by reading the comics first, and maybe it'll work better when it gets to stories original to this format. There were just a few bits where I missed the Ploog artwork visually realizing the concepts on some of the longer prose passages. But as I said, that's mostly just comparing to the original, and for the most part the book is heavily illustrated enough for any fan of Ploog.

Anyway, I should have the second book soon, so more on the series when I do.

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