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Monday, October 13, 2008

“The Dresden Files: Welcome to the Jungle” by Jim Butcher + Ardian Syaf (Reviewed by Robert Thompson)

Official Jim Butcher Website
Order “Welcome to the Jungle
Read a Preview HERE

ABOUT WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE: When New York Times bestselling author Jim Butcher writes stories in his popular Dresden Files universe, in his head he sees the story come together like panels from a comic book. So it’s no surprise that the lifelong comic book fan has made his mind’s work a reality with the new graphic novel “The Dresden Files: Welcome to the Jungle”.

The Dresden Files: Welcome to the Jungle”, which is a complete collection of the four-issue miniseries published by the
Dabel Brothers, marks the first project collaboration in the distribution deal between Dabel Brothers Publishing and Del Rey Books. Established in November 2007, the long-term arrangement will result in broader distribution for Dabel Brothers graphic novels.

Illustrated by rising talent Ardian Syaf, “The Dresden Files: Welcome to the Jungle” is Butcher’s first attempt at writing a comic book and is a brand new story set in the world of the wildly popular urban fantasy series, The Dresden Files, featuring his own protagonist, professional wizard Harry Dresden. “The Dresden Files: Welcome to the Jungle” is actually a prequel to “Storm Front”, the first novel in The Dresden Files series:

Harry Dresden is on the case again, this time investigating a brutal mauling at the Lincoln Park Zoo that has left a security guard dead and many questions unanswered. But Dresden isn't a private detective, looking for a murderer—he's a wizard, with the ability to interact with the magical world around our own, and sees that there's much more to this case than a simple animal attack. As Dresden begins to hunt for clues to figure out who is really behind this crime, he finds himself next on the victims list…

CLASSIFICATION: If you’re a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Hellboy, or the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter comic books, then “The Dresden Files: Welcome to the Jungle” will be perfect for you. Like those, “Welcome to the Jungle” boasts a fun mix of fast-paced supernatural action, humor and a dash of mystery/thrills. This graphic novel in particular is pretty tame in the violence/language department and is suitable for teen readers and above.

FORMAT/INFO:Welcome to the Jungle” is 160 pages long and since it collects the entire 4-issue miniseries, the graphic novel is broken up into four Chapters. The graphic novel also includes an introduction by Jim Butcher, a Cover Gallery showcasing the covers provided by Ardian Syaf and
Chris McGrath, and Concept Artwork by Ardian Syaf with notes by Jim Butcher. The story is self-contained and occurs immediately before the events to “Storm Front”.

October 14, 2008 marks the North American Hardcover publication of “Welcome to the Jungle” via
Del Rey/Dabel Brothers. The cover artwork was provided by Chris McGrath.

ANALYSIS: I’ve been looking forward to the graphic novel release of “Welcome to the Jungle” for two main reasons: 1) Because I’m a huge fan of the
Dabel Brothers who I’ve been following for years now. And 2), because I’ve wanted to read The Dresden Files for a while now and thought the graphic novel was an excellent starting point, especially since it’s a direct prequel to “Storm Front”, the first book in the series. So was it worth it? Well, let’s just say that after finishing the graphic novel I had to immediately start reading “Storm Front”, which I absolutely loved :)

Now, having read “Storm Front”, I can safely say that the graphic novel authentically captures the spirit and tone of the book, including Dresden’s ‘everyman’ attitude and sardonic wit, supernatural elements that are both familiar and creative, and a plot that places Harry in impossible situations, not to mention a little mystery that takes an unexpected twist or two. Plus, Murphy, Carmichael, Bob the Skull, Mister, Harry’s blue beetle, and his money problems all show up as well which was cool, but I do wish the graphic novel had talked a little bit more about Harry’s past—especially regarding his parents—and the Doom of Damocles.

Of the actual writing, I guess reading all of those comic books really paid off, because “Welcome to the Jungle” felt like it was written by a veteran. Granted, the graphic novel lacks the depth offered by an actual book, and doesn’t come off quite as edgy or emotional as “Storm Front” did—in fact, the graphic novel seemed to embrace its humorous side more—but I thought the writing was well-paced and efficient, with my only complaints being the little recaps at the beginning of the first couple of ‘chapters’ and the numerous wisecracks.

As far as the art, Ardian Syaf doesn’t really dazzle the reader with a distinctive style—not like Adi Granov, Ben Templesmith or Dave McKean—but he is consistent and more than competent, backed by outstanding inking that really brings the pencils to life.

CONCLUSION:Welcome to the Jungle” is not going to redefine the comic book industry, but the graphic novel looks great, and more importantly, is a lot of fun to read. So whether you’re a long-time fan of Jim Butcher, curious about the Dresden Files like I was, or just in the mood to read about an ass-kicking wizard, then “Welcome to the Jungle” is the place to be. And if you end up liking this, then stay tuned for the
Dabel Brothers’ adaptation of “Storm Front”, issue #1 hitting comic book stores this October…


Jim Butcher is the New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen novels, including The Dresden Files and the Codex Alera fantasy series. Since the publication of his first Dresden Files novel, Storm Front, in 2000, Butcher has become a favorite author of millions of dedicated readers around the world.

Ardian Syaf is a rising talent who has received universal acclaim for his work on the comic book Honor Among Thieves. Syaf is also penciling the comic book adaptation of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files novel, “Storm Front”.


ediFanoB said...

First of all I'm not a real graphic novel lover.

But I like Harry Dresden since I read STORMFRONT.

Anyway your vivifying review convincedme to add this graphic novel to my to-read list.

Adele said...

I love Jim Butcher and the Graphic novels are firmly on my wish list.

Robert said...

Well, if you like Harry Dresden at all, then I think you'll enjoy the graphic novel very much :)

Anonymous said...

dresden has a tiny crotch in these panels.

if its one thing i know after reading the first two books, he a big brass pair...


Robert said...

LOL! What an observation :D


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