The Escapist is an original comic creation springing from Michael Chabon’s Pulitzer Prize-winning The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. And though it’s not at all necessary to have read that marvelous novel to enjoy The Escapists, readers should, because this graphic novel takes both its heart and inspiration from Chabon’s work.
The Escapists features three young comic makers, Maxwell Roth, Case Weaver and Denny Jones, caught up in Roth’s dream to bring The Escapist to the modern day comic readers (his late father was a huge fan, and Roth seeks, in part, to keep a tenuous bond with him). Their youthful idealism — and talent — succeeds, and the comic is an instant hit, drawing attention from comic fans . . . and the former copyright holder, who will stop at nothing to regain control of this now hot again property. While corporate greed temporarily wins out over the heroes, their idealism — the same as Sam Clay’s — triumphs in the end.
The main storyline segues seamlessly with the comic the trio is writing, dialogue occasionally bleeding from the former to the latter. On one occasion, pages for the comic-within-a-comic even start out in black and white, to be coloured as Roth and Weaver work. Several different art styles are present in The Escapists, one for the main story, one for the old-style Escapist (very four colour), and one for Roth, Weaver and Jones’ realized comic (very dark and modern, bringing to mind any number of Vertigo titles).
The Escapists is good natured and big-hearted, true to its source material, and the Escapist comic within seems like it’d be a terrific storyline to read all the way through. It’s not often an introduction merits a recommendation, but Chabon’s is a must-read. Written from the point of view of an aged Sam Clay at a comic convention, it’s a touching homage to The Amazing Adventures, comic conventions and geeks the world over.
The volume also includes a pair of galleries: one of the actual covers for Michael Chabon Presents the Amazing Adventures of the Escapist and The Escapists, and one of the covers for the Escapist comics created in The Escapists‘ storyline. Short bios of the various creators involved in bringing The Escapist to life follow, closing out the book.
(Dark Horse, 2007)