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THE SHRINKING MAN #1: HOW DOES THIS CLASSIC MEASURE UP?

Written by Mark William Pawziuk on Thursday, July 30 2015 and posted in Reviews

THE SHRINKING MAN #1: HOW DOES THIS CLASSIC MEASURE UP?

IDW’s CEO himself adapts the 1956 novel by Richard Matheson.


Source: IDW

Adaption: Ted Adams

Art and Design: Mark Torres

Colors: Tom Varga

Letters: Robbie Robbins

In decades gone by, works of literature were adapted into comics regularly in the series Classics Illustrated. That title ended in the 1970s, but efforts are still made now and then to present classic novels in comic books. This series is based on the 1956 novel of the same name by celebrated writer, Richard Matheson. Among Matheson's other works are the book I Am Legend and the screenplay for The Twilight Zone episode, Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.

v.jpgThe Shrinking Man tells the story of Scott Carey, whose height decreases by one seventh of an inch per day after being exposed to a mixture of chemicals. The comic follows the structure of the novel by cross-cutting between the early stages of the condition and the point at which he is less than an inch tall. At first, his concerns are the financial strain of medical tests and his relationship with his wife, but when he is down to his last fractions of an inch, all Scott can worry about is surviving.

Ted Adams uses Matheson's dialogue when possible, so it does have a bit of a 1950s feel at times. Concurrently telling the initial and later stages of Scott's condition helps keep the pace fairly brisk. A strictly linear story would probably not be as exciting, since you wouldn't know just how severe Scott's predicament is. The issue ends on a cliffhanger (at least for those like myself who haven't read the novel), and I was sufficiently intrigued to want to continue reading the series.

The art by Mark Torres is fitting for this nightmarish tale. The faces and figures are illustrated in a slightly stylized and grotesque manner. He also does a good job capturing period details such as cars and interior décor. I also like how he establishes Scott's scale on pages two and three: one panel takes up almost the entire two page spread, with smaller panels along the bottom. The main, large panel contains a typical house's unfinished basement room. In it, Scott would be imperceptible due to his diminished status, if not for inserts zooming in on him.

Comics can present any story that a person can conceive. Comics like The Shrinking Man can also make great novels accessible to those who prefer the comic medium to straight up text. As well, comics are often more faithful to the original material than movies, which are subject to studio interference, test screening feedback, star demands, etc. In the back matter of The Shrinking Man #1, Adams writes about his long-held reverence for the original novel, and I believe it is reflected in the quality of this adaptation. For these reasons, I enjoyed The Shrinking Man, look forward to future issues, and hope that more comic adaptations of other novels follow from IDW and other publishers.

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