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

Lifetime USA CW Seed Holidays E! The CW Western X-Men festivals adventure Fall TV 2016 Animation Opinion Winners IFC Musical YouTube Red 45 BBC Shondaland National Geographic Acorn TV Crackle what to watch DC streaming service 2015 Reality Competition Star Wars crime thriller Pop Red Carpet social media 24 frames Amazon Food Network TIFF harry potter 2017 Thanksgiving romance ITV Grammys RT History TruTV Mary Tyler Moore Comedy Marvel Certified Fresh Schedule ABC spy thriller Nickelodeon Fox News Cosplay Comedy Central Comic Book San Diego Comic-Con docudrama TBS Character Guide Creative Arts Emmys unscripted Ellie Kemper biography Polls and Games binge See It Skip It History LGBTQ Tumblr WGN PBS anime Sneak Peek Nominations Country Biopics Warner Bros. cults Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Paramount GIFs Mystery Lionsgate Rocky FOX Columbia Pictures crime cinemax BET VH1 Nat Geo Rom-Com Star Trek Horror cooking YouTube Premium MTV Paramount Network DC Universe Writers Guild of America Best and Worst hist Set visit Trailer DirecTV Mindy Kaling PaleyFest Photos Esquire Year in Review Interview supernatural aliens justice league cats Podcast TCA 2017 Video Games Toys psycho 20th Century Fox Ovation crime drama El Rey FXX Superheroes Winter TV diversity Spike Musicals historical drama politics The Arrangement dc Marathons MSNBC HBO 007 doctor who IFC Films Cartoon Network SundanceTV Fantasy technology USA Network Superheroe Pirates Tomatazos Song of Ice and Fire Showtime serial killer TCA Syfy based on movie blaxploitation Sony Pictures Hulu Extras SXSW talk show political drama OWN TV Land streaming ESPN Apple Britbox Infographic vampires zombie golden globes Calendar Sundance Now Summer Drama Martial Arts NBC sports dceu Election police drama sitcom Awards GLAAD ratings 21st Century Fox Logo Adult Swim singing competition boxoffice Super Bowl Oscars TCM Emmys ABC Family E3 dramedy Bravo AMC Box Office Spring TV composers SDCC CBS comiccon Disney Channel discovery medical drama First Look Teen Disney finale Action period drama Sundance Starz DC Comics Epix Premiere Dates robots Christmas CNN Valentine's Day VICE GoT Watching Series Shudder mutant TNT TV Kids & Family Music Netflix Walt Disney Pictures Universal zombies APB CMT Rock Lucasfilm BBC America American Society of Cinematographers Countdown thriller Freeform Dark Horse Comics Trivia travel FX Ghostbusters science fiction jamie lee curtis Reality CBS All Access Sci-Fi NYCC President A&E TLC war Pixar transformers cops Masterpiece YA crossover