1993: Trapped

Trapped (1993) adapted by Edward Gorman and Anthony Bilau from a novel by Dean R. Koontz.

As horror comics go (and I’m assuming that that’s what this is), that’s not a very scary cover. The mouse? rat? there looks more cuddly than anything else…

Bilau’s artwork looks very much like Spanish children’s comics from the 60s. Only painted, which gives it an even further kitsch look.

For fuck’s sake!

The father had been killed by an unshaven, drunk driver… while on his way to chair a fund-raising committee… at a church.

I’ve never read any Koontz books because I’ve just naturally assumed that they suck, and I’m already patting myself on my back for my excellent prejudices. There’s so much pat sentimentality here.

A common problem with comics adaptations of novels is that they try to maintain the mood of the book by just cramming as many words as possible into the comic. Gorman doesn’t do that, but there’s still some unnecessary overlap between the captions and what the images show.

But it’s not overwhelming. For instance, here, while she’s walking around looking for those pesky rats (well, she doesn’t know that yet), she ruminates on other things, and the captions don’t simply restate what we already see. It works, and I think probably is faithful to the mood of the book.

I’m guessing Bilau has his background in romance comics, because he doesn’t do action very well. Above, she’s supposed to finally see the monstrous rats and be really scared.

On the other hand, Bilau totally super-dramatises scenes where people are just standing around talking. Those are some totally bizarre angles to use here.

And what’s really going on here? Are there two separate explosions somehow? Why don’t they see each other when the woman jumps out of the burning building a couple of pages later? WHAT”S GOING ON.

Anyway, I’m assuming that this adaptation (only 80 pages) shortens the novel, like, a lot, because it’s not a very satisfactory read. Just when things get exciting (she discovered the rats and somebody tries to brave the snowy woods to get to her), it’s basically over. They did manage to make the ramp-up exciting… but what a let-down.

Hm… Wow! From The Comics Journal #155:

Eclipse Books has announced that it is engaging in a joint venture with HarperCollins Publishers to develop and publish a series Of graphic novels The series will include both original graphic novels and adaptations Of published novels and stories. HarperCollins will distribute the books to the U.K. and British Commonwealth, HarperPaperbacks will distribute to the U.S. book trade, and Eclipse Books will distribute to the U.S. direct comic market. Playing the Game, a graphic novel by Doris Lessing and Daniel Vallely, will be the first Eclipse/HarperCollins release in January of 1993. Twenty-four titles are planned for 1993 and 1994, among them Trapped by Dean Koontz, Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey, Miracleman: The Golden Age by Neil Gaiman, Revelations by Clive Barker and Uh-oh City by Jonathan Carroll and Dave McKean.

24 titles! I’m not sure how many were published, but not more than a handful, I think.

Here’s a review:

This was kind of disappointing on the narrative aspects. The story had real potential, huge smart rats?! Come on, could have been way, way creepier. The ending was the worst part, it just sort of … ended. Unexpectedly and disappointingly.

The illustrations were superb, though, Anthony Bilau did a grand job. The best part was the doggo, a Lab named Doofus!

Here’s another:

I didn’t read this book. I put it on my list of books to read but I see it’s like a comic book. I hate comic books. So I’m going to mark this one as “read” just so that I don’t go check it out again.

Heh heh.

This one is more to the point:

Clichéd premise? Yes. James Herbert’s The Rats put through the filter of a really terrible B-movie? You bet. A potentially interesting thematic set-up of grief and feeling trapped that in no way resolves, and is only tokenly referred to in the final page? That’s the one.

And it’s really not helped by the artwork. There are times when you’re expected to rely on characters’ reactions to scenes, but this is impossible because their faces have the emotional nuance of dough. The lines are imprecise, the proportions off, the villainous rats hackneyed.

One thought on “1993: Trapped”

  1. Some Dean Koontz novels are good. I wouldn’t suggest reading ‘Intensity’ or anything published since. Can’t recall whether I read this one in the 1990s or not.


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