Rating: 2/5 – Skip the Comic, Read the Novel
by ComicSpectrum EiC Bob Bretall
Artful is a story set in the world of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, focusing on the characters of the Artful Dodger and Fagin…but with vampires added in! Peter David’s novel is a treat, it can be bought on Amazon for the cost of about 2 issues of the comic adaptation. In my opinion, going direct to the novel if this is a story you’ve not read before is a much better bet. If you have read the novel (like I had) and are looking for added nuance in a comic book visualization, you may be as disappointed as I was in this series.
The main problem I had with this issue was the art by Laura Neubert. Neubert does not have a distinct style that I could immerse myself in (think of Jeffrey Brown or Noelle Stevenson) that would let me ignore the rough around the edges nature of the art. What this looked most like was a journeyman artist trying their best to do a good book, but just falling a bit short due to a lack of experience. I have often seen artists say that there are a lot of pages of art they needed to get out of the way before they settle in and really start producing art they are happy with. Neubert needs to keep working at it and will hopefully get to that level eventually. This book will be a sample from that early phase of her career that she will hopefully one day look back on and say “Yeah, I’ve gotten a lot better since then”. An area that could make a difference sooner rather than later for Neubert would be trying to learn how to jazz up her page designs. The book relies too heavily on the standard rectangular grid and it pretty visually uninteresting. Throwing in some interesting panel layouts and more off-kilter perspectives may help. I’m not sure how much of this is from the script and how much is artist’s choice. I do know that they issue abruptly ends on panel 6 of page 21 and I turned the page expecting the story to continue. It was an abrupt end that was definitely not a good choice for the ending panel of the issue.
Peter David’s Artful is a story that I enjoyed quite a lot in its prose form. This adaptation did not rise to the occasion of providing me any extra “wow factor” for seeing this in a visual form. The art was visually uninteresting and the pacing of the issue felt off. It seemed like the whole adaptation had been laid out with no regard for it being serialized in 21 page chunks and when this issue just got to page 21, I got a “let’s stop here” feeling, with no sense of closure for the 1st installment. Very poorly executed on the part of I’m not sure who: editorial or the writer Nicole D’Andria (who is adapting Peter David’s prose novel). This is definitely not a series I’ll be coming back to in comics form, I’d rather let the completed story live on in my memory as something I enjoyed as a novel.
Reviewed by: Bob Bretall
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