Considering that William Gibson’s Neuromancer is one of my favorite books of all times, you’d think I’d have remembered that there was a comics adaptation, but no. Epic Comics put out half of it in one 44-page comic, written by Tom DeHaven and illustrated by Bruce Jensen. DeHaven has a look back on his part in it on his website.
My difficulties with the project had to do with the script process that I was expected to follow: the famous (or infamous) “Marvel Method.” Epic Comics, which publishedNeuromancer as a glossy large-format trade-paperback, was a subsidiary of Marvel Comics, and Marvel “culture” at the time insisted that a writer initially draft a succinctsummary of the story, which the artist would use in breaking down and penciling all of the pages. That meant, instead of writing a detailed panel-by-panel script, I had to write something like: “Page 1, Case is walking around Chiba City at night. Page 2, Case talks to Ratz and Linda Lee in a bar. Page 3. Linda Lee tells Case that Wage intends to kill him. He leaves the bar and walks around recalling his days as a console cowboy.” Etcetera. After working up that sort of uninflected précis—which was probably no longer than a couple of pages—I sent it off to Bruce Jensen (whom I never met, by the way, but that’s not unusual—I’ve never met half the cartoonists I’ve worked with). Jensen then did the page and panel breakdowns as he saw fit, roughing out everything, very loosely, in pencil.
This led to problems. Oh the olden days of comics.
DeHaven is a respected novelist (It’s Superman, Freaks Amour) who has written a lot about comics (Funny Papers), as well as actual comics. There’s lots of stuff on his website if you dig around, including a serialization of his new story, King Touey. Worth poking around.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.