Graphic Classics Volume 5: Jack London - 2nd Edition
by Jack London
Edited by Tom Pomplun
Cover Artist: Front: Jim Nelson; Back: Nick Miller
Review by Gayle Surrette
Eureka Productions Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 097466488x
Date: 25 December, 2006 List Price $11.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
I remember when I was younger; I loved reading classic literature in comic form. It was often the impetus to get me to actually go out and find the book and read it so I could get the full benefit of all the things that were left out of the graphic version. However, I found that reading the graphic version often primed me to see the story in my head as I read based on the artist's vision. With Graphic Classics: Jack London instead of a novel you have eleven short stories each adapted and illustrated by various authors and artists. Some stories are heavily illustrated with the art work taking the weight of the storytelling others have one or two drawings to set the stage for the story.
In each case the artwork and narrative dovetail to set the scene and tell the story. The artwork differs for each story reflecting the 'feeling' of the tale -- rough, noir, light-hearted, polished, fantastical -- the art sets the stage for the story.
For myself, I liked some of the stories and others left me a bit upset with the author. That's, however, not a fault of the editor, the artists, or those who adapted the story -- it's the fault of Jack London. I've read most of his novels and as I get older I have less tolerance for his low opinion of women -- most of the time his male characters see women as a tool to be used rather than another human being. For example, "The Wit of Poportuk" is the story of a young native American girl who is raised and schooled at a convent who wishes to marry a man of her own choice. She escapes Porportuk's schemes to marry her several times -- outwitting him and running away. Although the main character is El-Soo, the story is named for Poportuk and his revenge after her last escape.
Otherwise, the stories are what you'd expect of Jack London -- adventure, comedy, observations on the human condition, and daring do. Included in this volume are "The Red One", adapted by Tom Pomplun and illustrated by Mark Nelson, about an adventurer who risks it all to find out what makes the bell-like sound that he hears coming from the interior of the land. "Jan the Unrepentant" drawn by Hunt Emerson is a comic tale of two men who are trying to hang a third for the murder of their friend -- only the friend may not actually be dead. Other stories are "To Kill A Man", "Just Meat", "The Handsome Cabin Boy", "That Spot", "War", "The Francis Spaight", "How I became a Socialist" which is really an essay but very interesting reading, "Moonface", and "A Thousand Deaths".
Overall, this is a great introduction to Jack London and his stories. While for all ages, it's a great way to get reluctant readers a taste of literature in a format they can appreciate.