I’m happy to report that Shadow Show #3 is a marked improvement over the last issue. Oh, there are still some problems, which I’ll get into shortly, but for the most part it’s a good showing into what this comic should be.
Shadow Show, as you might recall, is a comic adaptation of a collection of short stories written by various authors in honor of Ray Bradbury. This issue, however, starts off with a bonus story not in the original anthology: “Live Forever!”
And right off the bat there’s a peculiar mistake. Not in the story itself, but in the table of contents, which lists Harlan Ellison’s story “Weariness” as coming first. Actually, I’m not entirely certain that it is a mistake. The folks putting together this comic probably just wanted the more famous author listed first. Still, it’s a weird move. Also – and this is a complete tangent – Harlan Ellison’s name has a ® after it. I had no idea that Harlan Ellison was a registered copyright, and I’m really much more amused by the idea than I should be.
At any rate, “Live Forever” is written and adapted by Sam Weller, Bradbury’s official biographer and co-editor of this anthology. Unlike last issue, where having an author adapt her own work proved disastrous, this one goes off without a hitch (well, okay, I would have removed the narration bubble in the second-to-last panel, but it’s nothing to get too hung up on). The story involves a reporter, who bears a striking resemblance to Sam Weller, paying Ray Bradbury a visit in his Los Angeles home to interview him for a story. This was a really fun one. Bradbury is portrayed as boisterous and joyful and everything you want him to be as he tells bits and pieces of his life story to the reporter. And then things take a turn for the wonderfully bizarre as the reporter is invited to meet some of Ray’s “friends.” I won’t give it all away, but the story ends up feeling like a loving homage both to the man and his work.
The second story is where I start to once again have issues with how this comic is done. You see, when I pick up a comic book, I expect to be – you know – a comic. But Harlan Ellison’s story hasn’t been adapted here. It’s been reprinted. I suppose the best thing I could say about this turn of events is that at least it doesn’t suffer the indignity of having to deal with the abysmal art in the second story of the last issue. Still, this comic costs $3.99, and it only has fourteen pages of comic. The Harlan Ellison story takes up three pages, although that’s really only due to the formatting. It could have easily been made to take up only one page. It also could have easily been made into an actual comic.
In fact, it would have been rather interesting to see this story as a comic, which is about “the last three of the most perfect beings who had ever existed” waiting for the end of the universe. It’s a quiet story, dealing mostly with their feelings as they wait for the inevitable, and I did like it. I just wish it had been a comic.
There’s an afterward by Harlan Ellison which is actually longer than his story. It’s worth a read, too, as Ellison is full to the brim with old man crotchetiness (was there ever a time when he wasn’t?) as he expounds a bit on his relationship with Ray Bradbury.
Like I said before, this issue is far better than the last one. And seeing as how it has a story not included in the original anthology, then if you like Ray Bradbury, I would recommend picking this issue up.
Shadow Show #3 is now available from IDW.