News

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

comiccon Marvel Red Carpet Shondaland Avengers gangster Amazon Prime IFC Films Television Academy movie TCM universal monsters Binge Guide Warner Bros. tv talk Disney+ Disney Plus disaster green book Hulu Comic Book HBO Go GoT book deadpool casting Tubi A&E Star Trek animated political drama Paramount Network legend Freeform Tokyo Olympics criterion Amazon Prime Video zombies marvel comics Song of Ice and Fire kaiju Extras debate VOD YA hidden camera Countdown Crackle based on movie versus 2020 Marathons supernatural TBS ESPN Broadway Trailer Comedy Lucasfilm movies 90s adenture laika Video Games Alien know your critic Turner aliens scorecard Kids & Family Infographic hollywood cinemax asian-american scary movies ITV LGBT TCA Awards witnail crime thriller japan streaming movies cops crime drama Sundance TV child's play saw breaking bad classics Opinion Pixar GIFs Women's History Month First Look comic book movies MTV rotten BET Awards dramedy kids LGBTQ Cannes History satire Paramount Plus cancelled TV shows Thanksgiving 007 Epix screenings 45 Black History Month kong CBS game of thrones news obituary Quiz Awards cars CNN HBO Fantasy young adult YouTube Premium comedies blockbuster target Calendar diversity adventure TV One docuseries new york mutant cancelled live action Toys Masterpiece Spectrum Originals crossover TV Land Lionsgate teaser Elton John Amazon 24 frames cults twilight die hard period drama Summer remakes werewolf The Arrangement Nickelodeon Showtime Disney award winner VH1 Pop TV Pop heist movie Holidays dragons 93rd Oscars The Witch Captain marvel Tarantino directors Ghostbusters BET CW Seed Columbia Pictures TV Superheroe Valentine's Day DGA suspense IFC black rt labs critics edition Spike Superheroes Emmy Nominations australia Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt dc robots wonder woman all-time Photos Classic Film women rom-coms MSNBC spanish Horror Heroines prank worst movies Nominations YouTube Red godzilla monster movies 99% ghosts Comics on TV 71st Emmy Awards Lifetime travel james bond 72 Emmy Awards Family Set visit Tomatazos New York Comic Con Western lord of the rings latino Comedy Central Sundance TV movies jurassic park video boxing fresh Podcast binge Food Network basketball Exclusive Video singing competition PlayStation 73rd Emmy Awards Biopics Dark Horse Comics biography true crime slasher Christmas zero dark thirty TV renewals ABC Signature boxoffice Television Critics Association GLAAD anthology chucky Apple TV+ children's TV mockumentary Martial Arts Country 2015 south america war theme song Fox News Teen See It Skip It Reality Competition biopic Funimation comic book movie Best and Worst olympics Election Animation nbcuniversal spinoff TCA Winter 2020 mcc OneApp Mystery WGN historical drama Netflix BBC Mindy Kaling Grammys blockbusters free movies police drama space Winter TV reviews HBO Max Rom-Com OWN politics festival serial killer fast and furious composers marvel cinematic universe Super Bowl venice President canceled USA Sony Pictures screen actors guild discovery 2018 slashers Trophy Talk psychological thriller game show PBS 2017 ratings Star Wars Anna Paquin Disney Plus Interview Cosplay batman USA Network harry potter FX on Hulu franchise documentaries spider-man miniseries dceu Sneak Peek halloween PaleyFest Polls and Games facebook BAFTA football X-Men high school Sci-Fi Schedule spy thriller Chernobyl video on demand Pride Month japanese Ovation royal family Adult Swim Endgame ABC Family CBS All Access Film toy story joker adaptation book adaptation First Reviews Esquire Disney streaming service critic resources action-comedy SXSW streaming cancelled TV series superhero Brie Larson spanish language DC Comics Musicals SundanceTV Apple Hear Us Out TIFF Netflix Christmas movies BBC America unscripted Starz docudrama MCU social media emmy awards comic books Apple TV Plus feel good superman Tumblr concert rt labs romantic comedy cats Year in Review E3 20th Century Fox Action Writers Guild of America Awards Tour italian Cartoon Network Academy Awards 21st Century Fox rotten movies we love Black Mirror halloween tv crime popular Fall TV NYCC Disney Channel scene in color hist E! Amazon Studios blaxploitation international Comic-Con@Home 2021 Musical TLC Baby Yoda 2019 a nightmare on elm street dexter VICE Legendary worst ID new star wars movies Rocky telelvision festivals TNT elevated horror christmas movies what to watch golden globes Ellie Kemper psycho Bravo strong female leads APB science fiction cooking justice league San Diego Comic-Con 4/20 Mudbound Marvel Television The Walking Dead Drama jamie lee curtis FOX revenge Mary Poppins Returns films RT21 Crunchyroll vampires indie stoner archives reboot razzies Marvel Studios trailers Peacock Rock Trivia finale DC streaming service 2016 RT History Holiday spain Vudu posters dark Acorn TV Nat Geo Britbox sequel FX french medical drama Music nature Character Guide stop motion stand-up comedy ViacomCBS 2021 Pirates Syfy Shudder dogs American Society of Cinematographers romance zombie WarnerMedia independent Travel Channel Emmys NBA BBC One NBC DC Universe foreign Spring TV Rocketman SDCC The Purge Creative Arts Emmys king arthur National Geographic AMC YouTube sequels thriller Certified Fresh DirecTV critics best Image Comics TCA parents documentary sitcom Chilling Adventures of Sabrina series golden globe awards Paramount Box Office comic doctor who Premiere Dates hispanic heritage month Mary Tyler Moore ABC TCA 2017 The Walt Disney Company talk show quibi aapi Pacific Islander cartoon Turner Classic Movies Watching Series rt archives cancelled television Hallmark Christmas movies hispanic sports FXX name the review nfl Universal mission: impossible pirates of the caribbean king kong Stephen King anime indiana jones Logo Discovery Channel technology El Rey Walt Disney Pictures Sundance Now 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Reality toronto richard e. Grant natural history Wes Anderson The Academy Oscars comics CMT The CW Arrowverse A24 Fox Searchlight TruTV 1990s renewed TV shows television Pet Sematary canceled TV shows sag awards Mary poppins Lifetime Christmas movies Winners new zealand Hallmark Film Festival transformers