While writing A Man Lies Dreaming I’ve been thinking sort of visually about it – which might come from my work with weird graphic projects and comics in recent years (stuff like the as-yet-unpublished It’s Hard to be a Filipino in Hebrew, Going to the Moon and the forthcoming Adler mini-series from Titan).
One of the things I wanted for AMLD were some posters from the alternate-history version of the story. One of them is Re-Elect Mosley. The other I hope to post soon (and we’ll have some physical copies too to giveaway!). Both were done by Sarah Anne Langdon.
The second thing I wanted to do was have a comic tie-in to the novel. I hoped to work with artist Neil Struthers, who I collaborated with on a weird little 32pp graphic novella called Adolf Hitler’s “I Dream of Ants!”, serialised in Murky Depths magazine and collected into one volume in 2012.
After finishing the book, I ended up writing an original 11pp comic script, called “Postcards”, for that purpose. It looked a bit like this:
PAGE 9 / PANEL 2: A young girl – GELI RAUBAL, Hitler’s niece, 17 – alone in a bedroom. On the wall a Nazi flag, on the dresser by the bed a framed picture of Hitler (with ‘stache) and Geli with arms around each other, smiling. The second drawer is open. Geli’s hand is coming back from the drawer with a gun – a Smith & Wesson .22.
Neil, however, had to withdraw from the project, and so I was left resigned to not having anything done, until…
Until it occurred to me, very cheekily, that some of the art in I Dream of Ants fitted my purposes very well. Alongside the ants and the madcap 1950s pulp sci fi tropes there was a strain of Hitler Noir running through the comic. It’s why I wanted to work with Neil on the project to begin with. And so, having failed to talk myself out of it, I got in touch with Terry Martin (who published the original Ants) and he sent me the clean files (that is, without the lettering).
And what I did then was, I literally opened them up in Photoshop and started to crop individual frames. Like this:
And like this and like this:
And then I started putting them into sequences, and writing a script (which is based on the first chapter of the novel), so what I got eventually was something like this:
And I wrote a script that looks something like this:
Woman: You are Herr Wolf, the detective?
Wolf: Depends who’s asking.
Woman: My name is Isabella Rubinstein.
Caption: She had the face of an intelligent Jewess.
And I sent everything to Terry Martin, and he made it look something like this:
And then I talked to my publishers at Hodder and they did a PDF you can download, and also they made these:
And so now there’s a limited number of print copies alongside the digital copy, and Hodder currently have a giveaway on Twitter. And I have some too!
And that’s how that happened!
Which is a very unusual and rather strange way of making a comic but, hey, I enjoyed it. My grateful thanks to Neil Struthers and Terry Martin for allowing me to use and remix the material, and doing all the hard work so I didn’t have to – and to the brilliant Fleur at Hodder who worked behind the scenes to make this ridiculous idea a reality.
You can read the comics online right here.