Fear. That is the best word to describe my initial reaction to hearing that someone was adapting the classic work by Hunter S. Thompson and Ralph Steadman into comic book format. The loathing part I held off on, until I saw photos of the creator, Troy Little, dressed up as Dr Thompson. What is this guy playing at? Why is he cosplaying Dr. Thompson as well as making Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas into a comic? What is he trying to prove with all this? Why is Jim Mahfood not involved in some way?
I started to form this negative opinion before ever seeing the book. So of course, I did not buy the 176 page graphic novel, out of sheer self-righteous snootiness. But months after the initial release I saw that IDW was turning it into a four issue miniseries. This honestly got my attention because it sounded like such a backwards publishing scheme. Still I was apprehensive, what was going on here? Why was an artist who previously drew Powerpuff Girls comics now drawing Fear & Loathing? What’s the score here? Then I saw the cover on the left…
And this one on the right…
Well, that is definitely a Jim Mahfood cover, maybe this will be okay. So I got a hold of a copy to do a review with, courtesy of the fine folks at IDW Publishing. And, it’s good, so go buy a copy for yourself. See that wasn’t so hard.
For real though, I read through the first issue, they have chopped the graphic novel up into four issues and taken the colors out of it to make a black and white thing that is actually very nice. These are not Ralph Steadman illustrations, obviously because it is drawn by Troy Little, who has a cartoony, playful approach to the work. This is more akin to the portrayal of Dr. Thompson as seen in the Doonesbury strip, than the original artwork by Steadman. Which is probably for the best, I think, because to create a comic in a similar style to Steadman would feel like the artist was trying to siphon off some of the magic and brilliance in the original illustrations.
This is what Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas would look like if it was a Saturday morning cartoon! The images of the Doctor, his attorney and the rest of the cast are deceivingly innocent looking but the story is the same. We have the hallucinogenic bats, the suitcase filled with drugs and an obese Samoan pouring beer over himself, all rendered in a cute cartoon-like style. It is a contrast I had never considered before, but am happy to say works in some demented fashion that should lure in unsuspecting comic readers for the ride.
So my initial fear and loathing thankfully turned out to be unfounded, as Troy Little has immense respect for the good Dr. as you can see from this interview with him. He tried to get into the mind of Dr. Thompson in all sorts of ways, even renting a red convertible to drive across the desert and going to the Mint 400! The man is dedicated and it shows, it leaves me looking forward to seeing the rest of this savage journey to the heart of the American dream!