Mark Twain’s Niagara, the Graphic Novel & Book Two Plans

30 Jan

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Mark Twain is a man of the world. To say history is alive in Niagara is an understatement and this adaptation into a graphic novel form by AH Comics has many accolades. It was published two years ago and I didn’t get a chance to discover this book until now. I am amused how book one finishes–almost as if though teasing about his future and appearance in Star Trek: The Next Generation, “Time’s Arrow.”

Honestly, I feel that’s more of an influence of the artist having seen the episode. Chapter 10, Into the Unknown, sees Samuel L. Clemens witnessing Niagara Falls getting illuminated on September 14, 1860. The beauty he conveys with watercolour on canvas of a star field is a fine way to close off book one.

The adventures he has prior to arriving at Niagara Falls make up the main content. He’s met Captain Swayze, a British Captain murdered by his own troops. It’s said he still haunts the Olde Angel Inn to this day. Whether that’s true requires me to visit and investigate. I’d be conducting an EVP session to ask, “Was this true?”

I took far too long upon receiving this work because when many artists contributed to each chapter, adjusting to the different styles required my brain to refocus. I didn’t want to speed through it either. I wanted to enjoy this work properly, and as leisurely as Clemans tends to in his later years. While he’d crack the whip at me because he once said, “A classic: a book people praise but don`t read,” I’d be at attention and make sure I’ve read this work more than once.

Originally, Zachery Schwartz was to turn Twain’s tale into a screenplay, but when he showed it to Andy Stanleigh, president of Alternate History Comics, the idea of it out in printed form first was far more ideal.

“It would help raise awareness and interest in the film,” said Stanleigh. “The screenplay itself is alive and well; having a graphic novel adaptation provides a visual pitch that studios can pick up on when reading the story and deciding how best to approach the film.”

Book Two is in the works. When this publication is a labour of love between many contributing writers and artists to illustrate the many chapters of this author’s life, I expect a 2021 release.

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