|I recently bought the bluray edition of THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD (1958), the first film with stop motion animation by Ray Harryhausen to be filmed in color. It's second only to JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS (1963) as my favorite Harryhausen film. I haven't gotten around to watching the bluray yet but when I do, I'll post an in depth review here.|
But buying the bluray of 7TH VOYAGE sent me digging through my long boxes in search of a buried treasure. I have a copy of the comic book version of 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD (pictured above). I dug it out and read it this afternoon. It was published in 1958 by Dell Comics and it's number 944 in their long running Four Color series. The comic, as did almost all of the movie and TV comic book adaptations
of the day, features a color photo from the film. It's not a bad picture but it raises the first of several questions I have about this comic book.
First, why choose such a generic shot from the film instead of a still that featured the cyclops, the roc, the dragon or the sword fighting skeleton? I don't know how well this issue sold but I can't help but believe that sales would have been higher with a full color photo of Sinbad and that skeleton on the cover. That would have really grabbed some young eyeballs! Not mine, unfortunately, as I was only two-years-old at the time.
The inside front cover features five black-and-white stills from the film, but again, not one of the photos features any of Harryhausen's creations. You look at those stills and you get the impression that 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD is just a generic adventure film set in an exotic land in days gone by.
The adaptation itself is beautiful to look at thanks to the superlative artwork of John Buscema who is one of my all time favorite comic book artists. Buscema does a masterful job of illustrating the adventure but it's not exactly a complete and accurate version of the film. I understand that changes have to be made, primarily due to page counts and the comic does hit the high points of the film fairly faithfully. There is a giant cyclops, although Buscema gives him regular legs rather than the goat-like limbs of Harryhausen's creature. There's a fire-breathing dragon but it doesn't look quite like the monster in the film. There's a giant roc but again, it's not quite the same.
Most egregious of all, there's no sword-fighting skeleton! One of the most spectacular cinematic set-pieces ever filmed doesn't make the transition from screen to comic book page. That's a real shame. I can't help but wonder what the reasons were behind these changes. I'd love to know and if any reader of this blog has some insight into this matter, please share that information with us. I'd also like to hear from any readers out there who had the experience of seeing the film on first run and buying and reading this comic. What did you think? What about folks who bought and read the comic but never saw the film? Let us know.
The most important thing about this comic book is that it's one of the few (if not the only) tie-in product made for the film. To the best of my knowledge, there was no paperback novelization of the film and there were certainly no toys or action figures produced as that merchandising trend was still years in the future. If you saw 7TH VOYAGE as a kid and wanted to have something to remember the film by until it was re-released or shown on television, this comic book was the only thing available.
It might not be a letter perfect adaptation of the film but it's a John Buscema drawn comic book of a Ray Harryhausen movie.
And that's pretty damn good.