One aspect of genre fiction that I never get tired of is comparing story versions when they are presented in multiple forms of media. I recently came across a graphic novel version of Jurassic Park and couldn’t pass up the chance to see how it compared to the book and movie versions. With a new film in the series coming out next year, I think the dinosaur itch is coming back. I don’t want to get into the whole “which is better – the book or the movie argument” because in this reviewer’s opinion, they’re all pretty good in their own light. The primary factor here is that I didn’t know this comic existed and was a little excited to discover this new version.
Let’s start by looking at the original source of this franchise. Jurassic Park began as a novel written in 1990 by Michael Crichton and published by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Publishing. Initial conceptions were primarily created for screenplay consideration. Thanks to an earlier meeting between Crichton and Stephen Spielberg, Universal Pictures didn’t hesitate to purchase the rights to this book, even before it was published.
Knowing that this story was going to be put to film, I jumped at the chance to read it when it first came out. I have always been a fan of big effects films, so my habit of getting a jump on the popularity begun at an early age. Yes, I had the lunchbox!
The science of the story has been debated over the years, but it was solid enough to make for an interesting plot and it allowed the characters to grow convincingly as the drama unfolded. I would be lying if I didn’t admit a little distraction in my wandering mind’s eye while reading, wondering how Hollywood would handle this scene or that. In the end, it was a fun read every time (yes, I’ve read it more than once.
Next came the long anticipated 1993 Spielberg film Jurassic Park. Crichton is also one of two writers credited to the film (David Koepp being the other). This fact clouded my perception a little regarding the movies deviation from the book. I understand the challenges of putting print to film, but seeing how this story was originally modeled as a screenplay, it seemed like the ideal opportunity for a movie to finally follow closely to the book. For some reason, it didn’t, even with Crichton’s involvement.
Sure a few names were changed which isn’t so distracting, but the first tension filled moment in the book – a little girl being attacked by a bunch of tiny dinosaurs – never appeared on the big screen. Maybe it was considered too traumatic at the time. But, this scene did however turn up at the beginning of the 1997 sequel film The Lost World, so by then I guess it was okay that the entire Jurassic Park printed work of Crichton was free to be jumbled up and appear at any given moment in any of the films. With the fourth installment coming out soon, I kinda want to go back and read the books again just to look for things that I missed, but might eventually see in the new movie.
Anyway, what inspired this post in the first place was the graphic novel version of Jurassic Park from IDW Publishing in 2010. I didn’t know it existed until I found a copy at the library. (PLEASE support your local libraries!) Adapted by Walter Simonson from the first film version with art by Gil Kane and George Perez, it is made up of a four issue collection from Topps Comics. And get this…these were published in 1993. How I missed these when the film came out, I have no idea. The collection follows the movie almost to the letter. I say almost because there are a few subtle changes (like the relationship between Dr. Grant and Ellie). Never the less, the comic version is just as vivid as the film.
The Jurassic Park franchise has appeared in books, film, comics and countless other outlets. Yet, these varied forms of media have also given fans varied looks at the story. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It looks like I have until next year when the new movie comes out to return to all of these forms of media to re-read the books, watch the movies and check out the comics. It is all in preparation for fandom’s return to Jurassic Park in 2015.
It might have begun with an idea from Michael Crichton, but there were a lot of other controlling factors that influenced the final product(s) we have been presented. The new film might have bits and pieces of what we‘ve seen or it might be something completely new. In any case, I will be sure to look for the novel and comic versions as well. I might even “dig” out my old Jurassic Park lunchbox.