There’s something about Hollywood that grabs our imaginations and won’t let go. When people tell stories through movies or television, we often find the individuals making these things happen can be as interesting as the projects they release to the public.
I’ve always found stunt drivers to be particularly fascinating since they can make cars do things I can’t imagine doing myself. They put themselves on the line while performing these stunts, so there’s an element of danger that I wish I could consider, but I know myself better!
Previously in James Sallis’ Drive: “A hard-boiled pop-culture sensation re-created for comics. In L.A., there’s one man you want behind the wheel. Just tell him where and when. He doesn’t take part, doesn’t know anyone, doesn’t carry a weapon. He drives, and he’s the best. Ride along as James Sallis’ lean nü-noir masterpiece unfolds onto the sun-bleached streets of Los Angeles in this exciting four-part comic book adaptation.”
A LITTLE BACKGROUND
This is another miniseries that was originally a novel, so there’s a structure to it that I find appealing. You know, it has a beginning, middle and end to it, something rare in comics these days.
First published back in 2005, Drive is a critically acclaimed novel praised by The New York Times as “a perfect piece of noir fiction.” IDW Publishing’s comic book adaptation celebrates the 10-year anniversary of the novel’s release.
Then in 2011, an award-winning film adaptation came out with an all-star cast. It received recognition for what was called “its hyper-stylized vision of Los Angeles.”
In an IDW news release, Sallis said, “The idea behind Drive, the engine, was to write a contemporary equivalent of those muscular original paperbacks from publishers like Gold Medal—something that will translate beautifully into graphic novels. I’ve spoken of Nic Refn’s film as a perfect storm, where everything, music, script, acting, came together miraculously. IDW’s Drive looks to be another perfect storm. This kind of loving development goes beyond adaptation; it’s true re-creation.”
“This is a story that’s practically made for comic books,” said series editor Justin Eisinger in that same release. “Drive is a lean, taut story, where the details lend that feel of authenticity. If you’ve cruised the back neighborhoods and streets of Los Angeles — or any metropolis — and you’ve read this book, there’s a tone, a feeling that ties them together. It’s tactile. It’s there and we want to bring those ominous undercurrent vibes to the page.”
Drive was followed up by the sequel novel Driven, which we can expect to see adapted as well should this miniseries be a success.
AN ENGAGING SCRIPT WITH A LOT GOING ON
“Plenty of drivers out there. Take your pick.” One of the great things about this comic is that a lot of Sallis’ dialogue forms the foundation for what the characters say, such as this phrase.
Also, the characters reminded me a lot of The Killer, a series of graphic novels originally published in France from 1998 through 2003. Scripter Matz portrayed hard-boiled people living in a dark world of crime and death. They ran the gamut from the quieter, succinct main character through his more jovial, lighthearted associates. I was reminded of them when I encountered the grey-to-dark people in Drive.
I’m also intrigued by the fact that the main character’s name is never revealed. He’s often simply referred to as “The Driver.” I like that he really only wants to drive, but can handle himself in a fight if needed, as we discover early on.
The book starts out with the lead character apparently in a dire situation, apparently shot and hoping the police will arrive soon to rescue him. Once that’s been set up, we go back to how things got the way they did. The pacing’s quick and the characters believable, so I was engaged in the story right away.
The artwork matches the tone and pacing of the story very well. There are a lot of perspective changes that draw us into what’s going on as well, such as a car stunt from above. Both cars and people are well displayed in a somewhat gritty style.
The choice of colors is a strong one, with a more subdued style throughout. There’s often a color outline around characters and objects to indicate their importance as well. The skies are usually red, magenta or yellow during the day, reflecting the mood of what’s going on below.
One more note on the art: Locations are displayed as if they were street signs, with green backgrounds and white letters. I liked that since it gave me the feel of actually moving around in Los Angeles!
BOTTOM LINE: Something Different
It’s probably pretty clear by now that I like different stories and characters a lot. Situations and people I haven’t encountered before really draw my attention, and I really like Drive for those reasons.
When the first issue hits stands tomorrow, August 26, I highly recommend you pick up this adaptation if you like engaging characters, fast-paced storytelling and intriguing visuals. I already can’t wait for the next issue to come out!