Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Sandkings graphic novel

The graphic novel
Adapted by Doug Moench (writer) and Pat Broderick (art)
DC Comics, 1987

George R. R. Martin is of course well-known to contemporary readers of sf and fantasy literature. 'Way back in the late 70s he was a rising star in sf, primarily due to his short stories. 

The August, 1979 issue of Omni magazine featured his story 'Sandkings'.

[A television adaptation of the story was later aired in 1995 on the Showtime anthology series The Outer Limits.]

In 1987, DC Comics published the graphic novel adaptation (48 pp), part of its series of sf-based graphic novels.

The main character in 'Sandkings' is a young, wealthy, man-about-town named Simon Kress. Kress is a sadist, who enjoys acquiring carnivorous aliens as pets ('....I feed my shambler a litter of kittens').
In search of a pet that is even more exotic and dangerous than the ones currently in his inventory, Kress acquires Sandkings, small ant-like creatures with considerable intelligence.

Kress sets up a large terrarium in his living room and soon begins to play 'God' to the Sandkings.

Kress invites his social circle to visit his home, to observe the Sandkings; this enhances his reputation among the city's smart set.

Kress embarks on an extensive series of 'bug wars', pitting his Sandkings against a variety of animals, all for increasing monetary stakes.

As the weeks roll past, Kress becomes increasingly obsessed with his unusual pets, an obsession that eventually edges into mania.

But his unhinged state has its consequences....and the Sandkings escape their cage. Kress is forced to confront the unpleasant possibility that his erstwhile pets are no longer his to command.....

I won't disclose any spoilers, save to say that for Simon Kress, things are going to get worse before they get better.....

The original 1981 paperback anthology that contained 'Sandkings' now fetches exorbitant prices, so this graphic novel may be a more affordable way of taking in the story. I can't say that Pat Broderick's artwork is well-suited to the story; its style is to representative of the type of artwork that appeared in 80s superhero titles. But overall, the graphic novel is a faithful adaptation of the story, which in its time was a worthy treatment of the alien / monster theme. if you're a fan of Martin's work, or a fan of 80s sf, then it's worth searching out.

1 comment:

Will Errickson said...

A wonderfully creepy story! Couple years ago I found a copy of the Baen reprint for a buck online, so it is possible to get one cheap if you keep an eye out for it. I remember seeing this adaptation in comic shops in the late '80s/early '90s but never picked it up. Haven't seen the TV version either. Don't think either could capture the uniqueness of Martin's original tale!