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Exclusive: Ted Adams and Gabriel Rodríguez take a gene-altering trip to The Island of Dr. Moreau

By Jeff Spry
Dr. Moreau Cover Slice

The Island of Dr. Moreau, H.G. Wells' unsettling morality treatise on the perils of transhumanism, inhumane animal vivisection, and interspecies evolution shocked worldwide readers of its day.

Now, 123 years later with multiple film adaptations, academic dissections, and numerous pop culture references under its belt, the classic novel is getting a revived comic book adaptation from IDW Publishing founder Ted Adams with artist Gabriel Rodríguez — and SYFY WIRE has an exclusive peek inside the premiere issue with page comments from its acclaimed penciller.

 Dr. Moreau Cover

Adams (Diablo House) and Rodríguez (Locke & Key) promise to remain faithful to Wells' original Victorian period and setting, yet also present a fresh interpretation of the major themes still highly topical today inside this seminal science fiction novel. The Island of Dr. Moreau will beach itself in comic shops as a two-part special debuting on Aug. 7, and contains colors by Nelson Dániel with letters via Robbie Robbins.

Explore our exclusive breakdown at the interior art for The Island of Dr. Moreau #1 below, then let us know if you'll sail onto its shores when it arrives early next month.

Dr Moreau P1

Gabriel Rodríguez: In this first page, we tackled the challenge that imposed to us the need to compress the opening of the original novel from H.G. Wells, trying to capture the core of its dramatic substance and accommodating it to a pacing to give a more exciting appeal to the comic book reader. Also, we tried our first approach to the visual storytelling technique we’ll explore in the rest of the book: a series of overlapping panels that frame the narrative, conforming an as immersive as possible reading experience. In this case, contrasting the tension between the frailness and loneliness of our castaway protagonist, against the immensity of the ocean and the looming threat of the mysterious Island of Dr. Moreau itself.

The spectacular color work of Nelson Daniel not only captures the drama of the scene and the vividness of the world around the characters, we also designed the color work in a way that helps drive the eye through the reader’s journey, helping us to create this juxtaposition of images that lets the big establishing shots frame the insets that drive the details of the action progression but preventing the construction of the page to become confusing.

Dr. Moreau P2

GR: This one was a creative challenge for several reasons. As we changed our lead character from Edward Prendick to Ellen Prendick, but having not that much narrative time or space to introduce her and her backstory, we created this flashback scene that tries to accomplish two purposes.

First, to complete the enigma of page 1, to figure out why and how our characters got to the starting point of the story that made Ellen arrive as sole survivor to Moreau’s island. And second, to establish a sort of metaphoric backstory to Ellen’s character. She’s a woman studying science in the shifting times of the 19th and 20th century, fighting against the entire structure of the late 1800s society. In the same way she struggles to survive the sinking on the Lady Vain, and pushed to the edge, when men are turned to beasts because of the chaotic dread of impending death, she becomes a survivor, willing to do whatever it takes to overcome their doom.

This collage composition gave us again with Nelson the chance to do something special with the color work: enhancing the fire, Ellen’s hair and the spilled blood. And then we ended the scene with a splash of water that makes the transition from Ellen’s dream to what she’ll discover in the next scene...

Dr. Moreau P3

GR: The big reveal of the opening arc of the story narrative. Ellen comes across a blatant reveal of the weird wonders that Moreau has been developing on his secret island. In a story that has been developed as double page spreads of narrative sequences, in these we made a special effort in making the main shot as close as possible to a full-page splash. The Leopard-Man, introduced first in an “as animal as possible” attitude, being one with the jungle, letting the instinct run free, and then, standing straight up as an awkward man, to let Ellie have the impression he was a twisted experiment of animal parts combined with a person.

In the previous pages and also in these ones, we introduced the odd-looking plants, the strange mushrooms and the mutant “rabbits” described in the original novel. We tried to make them part of a vivid environment, to make them look weird but not menacing, and after the introduction of the Leopard Man end the scene with the gory reveal of the killed “rabbit.” Finally, we tried to play with Ellen’s body language in order to reveal two aspects of her personality: her natural curiosity as a biology scientist, and the profound empathy towards living things that has gotten stronger after her own near-death experience that make her bond to this strange man-like thing.

Again, taking to an extreme the constant game of contrast of opposite, in mood, color and narrative beats. As if the entire narrative of the story is also one of the impossible chimeras that Moreau plays with in his wonderful and insane island.

IDW Publishing's The Island of Dr. Moreau #1 arrives on Aug. 7.