Thursday, May 28, 2015

Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear & Loathing Graphic Novel

Troy Little's Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas graphic novel

 “What were we doing out here...? What was the meaning of this trip? Did I actually have a big red convertible out there on the street? Was I just roaming around these Mint Hotel escalators in a drug frenzy of some kind, or had I really come out here to Las Vegas to work on a story?” — Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

This may well be the perfect pairing of a classic work of literary art and, well, visual artwork – in October 2015, Top Shelf Productions will release a graphic adaptation of legendary writer Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas as a full-color graphic novel. Thompson’s gonzo tale of a memorable trip to the desert city is illustrated by Eisner-nominated artist Troy Little. The adaptation is said to be faithful to Thompson’s original work, and Little – winner of a Xeric award for his graphic novel Chiaroscuro and nominated for an Eisner award for his series Angora Napkin, “brings a new level of manic energy to Thompson’s rocket-fueled narrative” according to a press release for the book.

Originally published in 1972, the story of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a tale in and of itself. Working on a separate story for Rolling Stone magazine, Thompson traveled to Vegas with Mexican-American activist attorney Oscar Zeta Acosta to get away from L.A. and do research for the article. Thompson took advantage of a paid assignment by Sports Illustrated covering the Mint 400 motorcycle race in Vegas as a way to underwrite the trip. What was originally supposed to be a 250-word photograph caption ballooned into a 2,500-word story that the magazine quickly rejected.

Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Thompson’s fictionalized story of the Vegas trip subsequently appeared, with illustrations by artist Ralph Steadman, as a two-part series in Rolling Stone in late 1971. It was published in book form the next year by Random House as Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream with additional illustrations by Steadman.

The based-on-a-true-story tale was written as a first-person account by Thompson’s alter-ego Raoul Duke, a journalist who is accompanied by his “300-pound Samoan attorney” Dr. Gonzo (i.e. Acosta) to Vegas. The two cover the motorcycle race, crash a narcotic’s officers’ convention while blasted on mind-altering drugs, and manage to rack up an obscene room service bill. The book would become Thompson’s best-known work, and was adapted to film in 1998 movie starring Johnny Depp. The 1980 film Where The Buffalo Roam, starring Bill Murray, was based on a number of Thompson stories, including Fear and Loathing

The graphic novel version of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas runs 176 pages and will be published by Top Shelf as a 6”x9” hardback book with a cover price of $24.95. If you’re a Thompson fan, you’re going to want a copy of this one for your gonzo bookshelf!

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