Neil Gaiman is the rare writer who’s as renowned for their work in the comic book medium as they are for their original literature. Gaiman’s work has been adapted for the big screen before too, in the form of such critically-acclaimed films as Stardust and Coraline. Currently, Gaiman’s landmark graphic novel series, The Sandman, is slowly but surely being groomed to make the jump to movie form too. Meanwhile, his genre-blending book American Gods is becoming a TV series that will premiere on Starz in 2017, under the supervision of showrunners/creators Bryan Fuller (Hannibal) and Michael Green (Heroes).
It has now been revealed that American Gods will also become a comic book series next year, in addition to making the leap to the world of cable television programming. The American Gods comics are being written by P. Craig Russell – the illustrator on the comic adaptations of Coraline and The Graveyard Book (another Gaiman-penned young adult novel) as well as the artist who was responsible for the “Ramadan” issue of The Sandman comics – and illustrated by Scott Hampton. Russell will also be providing interior art for the comic book version of American Gods.
EW reports that the American Gods comic book series will consist of 27 issues, divided up evenly into three story arcs: Shadows, My Ainsel and The Moment of the Storm, respectively. Here is the related statement from Gaiman on the news (followed by official artwork from the comic book):
“There’s a tremendous amount of excitement, in my house and in the world, about the American Gods TV series coming up on Starz. What we’ve managed to keep a secret until now is that there is something just as exciting out there: American Gods, the comic. I’ve been watching P. Craig Russell breaking down the book into comic form, watching Scott Hampton painting the pages, watching Glenn Fabry create the covers, and grinning to myself with delight, because the American Gods comic is going to be an astonishing, faithful, and beautiful adaptation.”
Gaiman’s original American Gods novel tells the story of Shadow Moon (played by Ricky Whittle in the TV show adaptation), a convict fresh out of jail who is recruited to serve as a bodyguard/escort for a mysterious fellow who calls himself Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane in the TV show). However, it turns out Wednesday is really one of the Old Gods in human form and is on a mission to rally the other Old Gods who have been displaced around the U.S., in an effort to fight back against the New Gods: entities such as Media, Technology and so forth. Those who have read Gaiman’s novel will be familiar with the mysterious buffalo-headed man who haunts Shadow, pictured in the above artwork from the American Gods comic book.
Whereas the comic book adaptation of American Gods is expected to be a largely faithful interpretation of Gaiman’s source material, the upcoming TV show adaptation will be changing up the original narrative’s structure – in addition to incorporating brand-new material into the mix and tweaking certain elements. This means the American Gods TV series could be something of a re-interpretation of Gaiman’s original novel (similar to how HBO’s Westworld re-imagines the movie that inspired it), whereas the American Gods comics book is closer to being a different way of telling the same story. So, for fans of Gaiman’s original book in general, both adaptations should offer a different, yet at the same time equally worthwhile, way of spending time in this particular fantasy setting.
The first issue of American Gods: Shadows goes on sale on March 15th, 2017.
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