A few weeks ago, I presented to you the story of the dreadful voyage of the “Demeter“, right from the pages of Bram Stoker’s famous novel.
Well, turns out that the passage (double entendre, hehehe) was made a comic book a few years ago, too, and one that enjoys a certain popularity.
Written by Gary Gerani, and penned by Stuart Sayger, and published by IDW Publishing, the publisher notable for the Gothic gorefest 30 Days of Night, Death Ship is arguably one of the better, as in, more cultured, horror comic reads of the last decade.
The script close to the original, and the art of a haunting timelessness, Death Ship delivers as an entertaining distraction, and might serve a struggling teacher (hehehe, introspection, bad) as a better, and a more actual introduction to Dracula than the Nosferatu movies, or Francis Ford Coppola’s original, but rather liberal adaptation.
Despite those early laurels, you might be surprised how little I enjoyed the comic book:
To begin my critique, the comic is helplessly too short: Pressed into a four-issue arc, the story and the characters fall flat, and remain rather sketchy. Bizarrely enough for a story taing place in such an enclosed space as a ship, I found it rather hard to follow the action.
This sketchiness does not only make the protagonists rather unrelatable, and, except for one, completely over-the-top character, they just, quite simply, get to little time with the reader. This sketchiness, and there’s the big problem I had with the comic book, graphic novel, or whatever, also extends to the villain:
Portrayed rather inconsistently, this “Dracula” is more puzzling than frightening, and the end of the story (rather abrupt, probably due to the shackles of page count) is just not very satisfying.
I am bummed; of course, I had an idea of how this comic should be done. Not only does this version of the story not match my own ideas – which I could accept, but also does it not give a rendition that I would consider really engaging – which is what I find intolerable, given how beautiful the source material is.
Overall, I still recommend people to read this comic, if they find it cheap. There are certainly worse literary adaptations of classic literature floating through the scene. But there’s certainly also a lot of room for improvement.
I give it, still, seven out of ten shot albatrosses: If the authors had been allowed to make this a six-issue, instead of just a four-issue story, it surely would have rocked. This way, we get a sketch of what could have been a better comic. A good sketch, sure, but still – a sketch.