Legendary writer and former Marvel Editor-In-Chief Roy Thomas is reteaming with young gun talent Mario Gully on their second Robert Louis Stevenson adaptation for the Marvel Illustrated imprint as the publisher presents, "Kidnapped" later this year.
The two collaborated on "Treasure Island" for Marvel Illustrated last year.
Thomas told CBR News that "'Kidnapped' is one of the great 19th-century adventure novels and it lends itself really well to graphic novels."
"It's great to have a chance to translate it into a book of more than 100 pages," said Thomas, who has scripted several adaptations for the imprint including "Last of the Mohicans," "The Man in the Iron Mask" and "The Iliad."
Thomas said "Kidnapped" tells the story of a 16-year-old Scottish 'lad,' who is 'shanghaied' to sea in 1751 by the actions of an uncle who wants to hang on to an unlawful inheritance.
"Young David Balfour has many adventures, including involvement with a real-life 18th-century Scottish rebel, before he wins out," teased Thomas, who added David Balfour is not your typical superhero.
"He can't fly," quipped Thomas, "but he's brave, resourceful, and sympathetic."
While a fictional tale, "Kidnapped" is steeped in historical anecdotes like the unsolved Appin murder of 1752.
Thomas said while he read about the assassination in 'an essay or two,' he didn't research it specifically because "there would have been nothing of any historical discrepancies" that would have been featured in the adaptation.
Categorized as a classic 'boys' novel' from the 19th Century, Thomas said he and Gully view it more of an all-ages adventure.
"Most anyone who would enjoy the novel in the first place will, I think, appreciate the graphic novel," said Thomas.
Gully, who created the superhero Ant in 2004, agreed with Thomas and added that working on classic literary and historical figures in comics is an opportunity he relishes whenever he gets the chance.
"I love comics. I love drawing comics and Ant still remains to be my favorite character. And I seriously doubt that will change. But working on 'Marvel Illustrated: Treasure Island' and now 'Kidnapped' has really been, and continues to be, a thrill ride for me," said Gully.
"Drawing characters like Jim Hawkins, Long John Silver, David Balfour and old Ebenezer Balfour - you just don't draw characters like that everyday. Characters that are part of history like this. Robert Lewis Stevenson was really an incredible creator and writer. Being a part of these projects has really opened my eyes to a new world of possibilities. I also really enjoy working with someone like Roy Thomas, and the editors behind the scenes have been growing on me in a very positive way."
Gully said with this being his second go-around illustrating a classic tale, he has become far more comfortable with the material.
"Naturally, I pull a lot of my inspiration and tricks from what I already learned on the first adaptation," said Gully. "I still have to do a lot of searching on the net to get the right elements in a particular scene, and the Marvel editors and Roy really has this stuff down. They steer me in the right direction when I draw a 'dirk' as a gun instead of a knife [laughs]."
Once labeled as a 'T&A' artist by some, Gully said the opportunity to translate revered novels to comic form has greatly broadened his style, not to mention his portfolio.
"Honestly, I'm a professional. I should be able to handle any project that comes down the pipe and make it look like I've been drawing any particular time period or subject matter for years," explained Gully. "I'm not saying that I've arrived at that point. But, that's my goal. When I broke into this industry, I was, and for the most part still really am, known for drawing 'Ant,' and some had labeled me a T&A artist. Now, I'm on my second Marvel Illustrated series. I think that shows at least that I have more potential and diversity than some comic fans give me credit for."
Gully did admit that he had to use some different muscles (both mentally and physically) when jumping from superheroes to literary leading men.
"The only real challenge is to create those great pages and scenes with these historical heroes that you could do with Hulk or Spiderman. That's the trick because visually, you can't compete with a page of Spidey on a building or Hulk flexing his muscles," explained Gully. "Artistically, the storytelling and the facial expressions have really got to be on point and in a sense, make up for the splashy pages."
Thomas said he would love to work with Gully again on another Marvel Illustrated project. While it's not his decision, he offered a few suggestions from the Stevenson collection.
"I don't make those choices, though of course I'd be happy to do others, particularly 'The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,' or even the sequel to 'Kidnapped,' 'David Balfour' or 'Master of Ballabtrae.'"
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