Writer-Artist P. Craig Russell on Adapting Neil Gaiman's American Gods as a Comic Book — Plus, Issue 2 Sneak Peek

Ahead of the TV series, Russell reveals why he's not planning to watch the show — yet. And Dark Horse provides a preview of book 2 that introduces "leprechaun" Mad Sweeney.

by | March 17, 2017 | Comments

American Gods #2 variant cover by David Mack (Dark Horse Comics, Inc.)

When new TV series American Gods debuts on Starz on April 30, it will be the second time that Neil Gaiman’s classic 2001 fantasy novel — about “the clash between the old gods of mythology and the new gods of technology” — will be adapted to a visual medium, but only by six weeks.

Thanks to writer and layout artist P. Craig Russell (who previously adapted Gaiman’s Coraline), artist Scott Hampton (Black Widow: Breakdown), and, of course, Gaiman himself, American Gods is also being adapted into a comic book, the first issue of which was released on March 15.

With the second of 27 issues out April 12th, we spoke to Russell about how this adaptation compares to the original novel, and how it’s intentionally not influenced by the TV show.

American Gods #2 variant cover by Bill Sienkiewicz (Dark Horse Comics, Inc.)

Paul Semel for Rotten Tomatoes: What was it about American Gods that not only made you want to adapt it into a comic, but also made you think that you were the right person to do this adaptation?

Russell: The simple answer is that it’s a well-written book, it’s a compelling story, and there’s a lot of fun to it amidst all the darkness. I’ve been working with Neil for 25 years, adapting his short stories and novels, so from experience alone, I’m the right person to do this.

RT: My understanding is that this is a fairly faithful adaptation. It’s not abridged or a reimagining.

Russell: Well, it can be abridged and still be faithful. Gone with the Wind could’ve been a 40-hour-long movie if they’d done the whole book. So there’s a great deal of editing that goes on, as I’m sure there will be with the TV series. Neil can pack a lot into a page, so I’ve learned the art of reducing conversations down to a half-dozen lines down from 10 or 20. It’s a matter of getting to the essence of the narrative. It’s like taking a Duesenberg apart and reassembling it as a small sports car.

Author Neil Gaiman at the start of production on Starz series American Gods (Starz)

RT: How involved was Neil in this adaptation?

Russell: He pretty much just gives me the book and lets me run with it. Though I will text him if I have any questions. I’ve read the novel three times, but I don’t have a photographic memory. That said, Neil, Scott, and the editor did go through several revisions when it came to the design of Shadow [the main character]. But, again, Scott was also faithful to the way characters were described by Neil in the book.

RT: American Gods came out in 2001. Did Neil ever say anything like, “This part seems dated, let’s fix it”?

Russell: Well, when the 10th anniversary edition of the book came out, Neil restored things that had been edited out of the first version. When I started working on this, I asked Neil which edition to use, and he said the second one.

But in terms of things being dated, there were a couple little things. Like there’s a part where Shadow is watching TV, and Lucy Ricardo [from I Love Lucy] starts talking to him, she’s one of the new gods, a celebrity, and she mentions shopping malls. But she also mentions online shopping, which were just starting at the time, so I emphasized that since shopping malls are dying and people do more online shopping.

Ian McShane, Ricky Whittle in American Gods (Starz)

RT: Now, along with your adaptation, there’s also the American Gods TV show. Given that you were working on this at the same time they were putting the show together, did anyone, presumably Neil, show you images from the show?

Russell: No, not a bit. In fact, my editor sent me a link to the first trailer that came out, and I won’t look at it. I don’t want there to be any kind of cross contamination. It’s like when I was doing the comic adaptation of Coraline and they were doing the animated movie at the same time, I wouldn’t look at any of their stuff. Though once I finish my version, I will binge-watch the show. I want to see how they’re doing it. I’m looking forward to seeing how they handle the editing of the book and how they stitch it back together. I’m really interested in seeing how they deal with the same challenges that I’ve been facing.

RT: Neil has said he is going to write a sequel to American Gods. Have you talked to him doing it as comic book with you at the helm, or doing a comic book adaptation at some point?

Russell: No, we haven’t talked about it because it’s in such a preliminary stage; though I wouldn’t be surprised if, at some point, I was asked to do an adaptation of it.

RT: What about convincing him to call it American Gods II: Electric Boogaloo?

Russell: Ha! No, but I will now.

American Gods: Shadows #1 is out now. American Gods #2 will be out April 12. New issues will be released every month. The first collected edition will be released in early 2018.

American Gods: Shadows #2 Sneak Peek

Description: Fresh out of jail, Shadow Moon finds himself recruited as a bodyguard for the enigmatic Mr. Wednesday, only to be interrupted and kidnapped by the dangerous Technical Boy, who wants answers as to Wednesday’s plans.

The following sequence introduces hard-drinking brawler Mad Sweeney, who calls himself a leprechaun, but is taller and more dangerous.

Variant cover by David Mack: 

American Gods #2 variant cover by David Mack (Dark Horse Comics, Inc.)

Variant cover by Bill Sienkiewicz: 

American Gods #2 variant cover by Bill Sienkiewicz (Dark Horse Comics, Inc.)

Cover by Glenn Fabry:
American Gods #2 cover by Glenn Fabry (Dark Horse Comics, Inc.)
American Gods No. 2 page 1 (Dark Horse Comics, Inc.)

(Photo by Dark Horse Comics, Inc.)


American Gods No. 2 page 2 (Dark Horse Comics, Inc.)

(Photo by Dark Horse Comics, Inc.)

American Gods No. 2 page 3 (Dark Horse Comics, Inc.)

(Photo by Dark Horse Comics, Inc.)


American Gods No. 2 page 3 (Dark Horse Comics, Inc.)

(Photo by Dark Horse Comics, Inc.)

Tag Cloud

chucky Music green book justice league Marvel Television Marvel Studios based on movie FX quibi films BAFTA ghosts movie series WarnerMedia natural history Animation adaptation Discovery Channel Adult Swim Epix The Academy Cartoon Network IFC Films CBS All Access E! Tomatazos comics zombie 45 TruTV Britbox Walt Disney Pictures Turner Classic Movies Superheroes Apple TV Plus werewolf Amazon supernatural Disney+ Disney Plus YouTube Red TV Star Wars independent technology Certified Fresh concert transformers news Pop indie San Diego Comic-Con Disney Channel Women's History Month Christmas mutant christmas movies TV renewals venice true crime Opinion rt archives The CW LGBTQ spinoff FX on Hulu Amazon Prime Video A24 Comedy twilight miniseries Watching Series Sci-Fi Disney Plus theme song italian japanese DGA Mary Tyler Moore TCA Winter 2020 Superheroe obituary james bond Ghostbusters mission: impossible Sundance TV Amazon Prime Nominations Trailer space directors spanish language 2020 criterion renewed TV shows sports CBS a nightmare on elm street Starz children's TV Emmy Nominations Alien Mindy Kaling Pop TV cancelled Turner Lifetime Christmas movies Apple hollywood crime worst Super Bowl Marvel Toys australia toy story singing competition Polls and Games police drama crime thriller docudrama Pride Month Premiere Dates ITV VH1 dark halloween indiana jones Baby Yoda Showtime YA Nickelodeon Paramount Network dc TNT Netflix Christmas movies Rock witnail elevated horror political drama anime cinemax fast and furious ESPN SDCC Mary Poppins Returns Extras Podcast streaming game show Winners reviews revenge Disney streaming service The Witch Comics on TV dceu teaser Nat Geo Tumblr universal monsters Esquire NBC Set visit First Look medical drama Cannes cars Marathons Stephen King cancelled TV shows Grammys spanish parents television dogs cancelled TV series historical drama screen actors guild Reality stop motion reboot GIFs thriller satire Film MCU romantic comedy Comedy Central Crunchyroll documentaries Mudbound Quiz zombies BET FXX 2017 Pixar Character Guide foreign facebook asian-american Disney Apple TV+ WGN fresh Logo canceled social media ABC Endgame The Arrangement BBC One deadpool halloween tv Video Games rotten movies we love crossover Tarantino hispanic spain Vudu Heroines emmy awards name the review OneApp archives BBC America MSNBC BET Awards comic books The Walking Dead Awards Teen french YouTube Premium Thanksgiving strong female leads The Purge black Biopics E3 period drama Trivia DC streaming service Fox Searchlight TBS VOD composers PaleyFest comedies Paramount scary movies Funimation AMC rotten Sony Pictures Writers Guild of America Red Carpet 2016 ABC Family Interview Travel Channel NYCC History APB TV Land crime drama cults HBO Go critics zero dark thirty Elton John slashers Dark Horse Comics festival SundanceTV Countdown finale sitcom Lucasfilm TCA Academy Awards Netflix unscripted mockumentary Shudder nature sag awards CMT scorecard Mystery Horror Chernobyl Rom-Com Sneak Peek GLAAD Spike Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt jamie lee curtis vampires worst movies See It Skip It football YouTube Columbia Pictures cartoon Rocky BBC CNN Oscars travel cats IFC Pet Sematary kids OWN 20th Century Fox MTV Food Network Election Hallmark Christmas movies DC Universe Box Office Fox News comiccon Calendar toronto Film Festival 24 frames award winner Sundance Hear Us Out Drama Black Mirror TCA Awards Peacock Syfy blaxploitation Bravo Fall TV Trophy Talk Hallmark Ovation stand-up comedy Spring TV X-Men dragons laika Photos Lifetime Year in Review RT21 Holiday spider-man LGBT anthology all-time Amazon Studios binge USA Network psycho cops VICE Lionsgate golden globes National Geographic New York Comic Con stoner CW Seed SXSW Fantasy TLC Summer Shondaland Comic Book nfl canceled TV shows Captain marvel Television Critics Association Warner Bros. versus Classic Film Tubi Black History Month Best and Worst 99% boxoffice PBS Freeform screenings Acorn TV 2019 Sundance Now book boxing El Rey classics serial killer franchise HBO Max talk show Star Trek remakes best Television Academy superhero 21st Century Fox war TIFF 2018 Ellie Kemper harry potter casting cancelled television Musical game of thrones Arrowverse batman spy thriller Crackle latino Avengers richard e. Grant A&E Masterpiece Musicals Universal Pirates science fiction RT History festivals Chilling Adventures of Sabrina documentary 71st Emmy Awards Rocketman 2015 PlayStation diversity video Brie Larson adventure Spectrum Originals sequel Martial Arts Binge Guide ratings joker romance TCA 2017 Infographic what to watch blockbuster discovery Western hist President 007 Mary poppins Holidays Awards Tour Winter TV doctor who Song of Ice and Fire Hulu nbcuniversal tv talk Anna Paquin HBO cooking Kids & Family aliens ID American Society of Cinematographers Valentine's Day free movies movies Family die hard child's play Action robots south america dramedy GoT TCM DC Comics Country FOX psychological thriller First Reviews Reality Competition Emmys USA sequels animated breaking bad 72 Emmy Awards Cosplay DirecTV 4/20 biography politics Schedule disaster Creative Arts Emmys video on demand comic