Original Story: Joe Hill
Adaptation Writer: Jason Ciaramella
Art: Charles Paul Wilson III
Colours: Jeremy Mohler and Charles Paul Wilson III
Editors: Carlos Guzman and Chris Ryall
Letterer: Robbie Robbins
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Ray Bradbury is a name embedded in the great mythos of science fiction literature. His ability to work through the wide ranges of literature, from novels to short stories, would bring Bradbury to adapt some of his work into the realm of comic books. As explained in the introduction for Shadow Show, Bradbury was fascinated with the fantastic at a very young age, burrowing from his obsession with the newspaper Sunday comics like Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. The pulp writer began in magazines and would eventually make his way to adapting his own stories for EC Comics (through a very interesting exchange with Max Gaines). It only makes sense that Shadow Show will be adapting stories from an anthology of multiple authors’ own short tales, varying from Joe Hill to Neil Gaiman, whom were all heavily influenced by the psychologically deep workings of Bradbury’s writings.
The first issue of Shadow Show adapts Joe Hill’s story entitled ‘By the Silver Water of Lake Champlain.’ Jason Ciaramella adapts Hill’s words into the comic, flowing quite nicely and never straying from the feel of a short narrative. The short story begins with a vibrant coloured scene of a bright red house next to an ominously wide body of water; Charles Paul Wilson III’s art style strongest in the first few panels with the colouring by Charles as well and Jeremy Mohler respectively. An older, damaged looking woman is seen inside the house, peering out into the water. The darkness of the black walls around the woman conceals a memory of hers that is about to be revealed. The following matching frame shows a younger version of this woman named Gail, the colours a bit brighter but the expression disturbingly the same on her face. Gail is about to encounter a mixture of feelings that most young kids gather from an extraordinary discovery. The only problem is the discovery that she makes will only exemplify the distraught and disturbed look of the older version of Gail on the first few pages.
The art style appears a bit too cartoonish at times and oddly proportions characters with their surroundings but is saved by the strength of the story itself. Hill’s adapted story portrays the possibilities of discovery and the repercussions that come with it. Gail, alongside a neighbourhood boy, Joel, find a grand revelation in what is originally thought to be merely a ‘squishy’ rock. A great single page spread shows a unique mirroring of two different perspectives on what this unique finding could mean for Gail and Joel down the road. The fascination of the unknown and our fears and obsessions from not knowing the truth is something Bradbury constantly worked with throughout his career. The ability to play with fantasy and open a new world ultimately creates this connection one has when you were a kid, exploring what was once a grand world filled with wonder. Bradbury’s brilliance stemmed from him never straying away from the sense of wonder, laying out a road for other literary individuals to similarly showcase and challenge the modern world.