I read these as they were coming out back in 2006 without having ever touched the original novel. I decided to reread the run through the trade paperback for a couple reasons, the main being that I finally got off my lazy butt and read the original novel. I did it out of order though because I read it after its sequel, the novel Everville.
I was impatient and just jumped to what was available and then backtracked. Which actually worked fairly well because Everville has more of a better structure and the characters draw you into the saga a bit more thoroughly than they did in The Great and Secret Show. Now we just have to wait for the third and final novel, which sounds like it may be a bit of a ways off.
The second reason was because since the Locke and Key series is over I miss the regularity of having Gabriel Rodriguez on a long term story. I love his artwork in L&K and that’s partially due to my exposure to it in this Clive Barker series. I actually always feel that anything Rodriguez works on has a Clive Barker tone to it simply because of this association. He communicates the characters and ideas of Barker very well and infuses a little bit of his own energy into their personas.
As is often the case the comics do compress a massive amount of information from the books and gloss over a lot of material. For the most part they capture the tone and the core plot exceptionally well, so I might recommend reading the comic first and then jumping to the book to expand. The entire first half of the comic series is pretty spot on actually with only minimal glossing, it’s just after that midpoint point you can tell they may have wanted to make this a 24 part series instead. A bunch of characters just kind of appear and move on fairly quickly to the point where you’re not sure why they bothered, while in the book they all play a healthy role and you get some sort of satisfaction. That’s probably the greatest fault of the comic, which if you go in expecting it then your disappointment is certainly mitigated.
The main draw is the Gabriel Rodriguez artwork. It’s not quite as sharp as his L&K work because he’s still developing, but his eye for architecture, facial features, and overall design is certainly present and catching. There are certain parts of the novel that leave so much to your imagination and I felt like he nailed a lot of the interpretations pretty spot on.
The trade paperback is the recommended way to go at its original retail of $35 and over 270 pages of material, covers, sketches, designs, scripts, and all that jazz. Unfortunately this is out of print, so unless you just happen across a copy it might be more affordable to hunt down the single issues. If you prefer owning original issues though there are some nice covers across the series so it’s definitely worth hunting them down as well.