TitleI Am Legend
Writer:Richard Matheson (Orignal Book)
Steve Niles (Adaptation)
Content:This book is for mature readers and contains violence, mild language, and some nudity.
Introduction:This graphic novel is an adaptation of the classic novella “I Am Legend” by Richard Matheson. It was done over 15 years ago but has been re-released for the upcoming film starring Will Smith. The original story was first published in 1954 and has spawned four film adaptations, including the recent release, multiple printings of the book, and it has also influenced many others, including Stephen King and George Romero.
Story:I Am Legend tells the story of Robert Neville, the last surviving man on earth. He is a white man of “English-German stock” and lives in the suburbs of Los Angeles His days are spent, repairing his house, greenhouse, and generator, making stakes, cutting garlic, and finding food. He is the last man on earth, but he is not alone.
Outside his door, every night gathers the remains of civilization. They want one thing and one thing only. The blood of Robert Neville himself. Repulsed by the garlic and kept at bay by the barricades and locks Neville has placed on the windows and doors, they stand at bay, fighting, wandering, and often feeding off of each other. Only one of the beings says anything, and it is always, “Come out, Neville!”
Each and every night they come, and each and every day he goes out and hunts them, killing them in their coma like sleep one by one. How can one man hope to extinguish a world of the living dead? Neville has no choice but to survive as best he can. A man alone in the midst of the dead.
Review:Having read the orignal book, and seen some of the various incarnations of the films, this graphic novel really is a spot on adaptation. Direct narratives are plucked out and then accompanied by the illustrations from artist Elman Brown. Sometimes most of the page is just the text from the book, with only a couple of simple illustrations to go along with it.
This is great in keeping the spirit and tone of the original story, but sometimes it came off as being rather wordy for a comic book. You might not be used to this kind of reading in a graphic novel, but it is worth it to get the story. The story in and of itself is very good. It is a classic man versus the world story, and one that has influenced countless other writers and artists. George Romero has stated that he was influenced by the book when he was making his film, “Night of the Living Dead,” and Stephen King has also claimed being influenced by Matheson. The great thing is that the story reads as well today as it did in 1954 with virtually no editing.
The black and white art fits well to set the tone of the stark and bleak future that Neville inhabits. The downside to it is that it does seem a bit dated. Granted, the graphic novel was done around fifteen years ago, but it doesn’t seem up to some of the same standards as today’s work.