The Discworld Graphic Novels: The Colour of Magic & The Light Fantastic

William Gatevackes

As you can imagine, the Discworld novels are tricky ones to adapt into any form, yet beg -- almost scream -- to make the jump to comic books.

The Discworld Graphic Novels: The Colour of Magic & The Light Fantastic

Publisher: HarperCollins
Contributors: Artist: Steven Ross, Artist: Joe Bennett
Price: $24.95
Writer: Scott Rockwell
Length: 272
Formats: Hardcover
US publication date: 2008-06-22

Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series has been around for over 25 years, spawned 36 novels and has been adapted into movies, plays and, yes, even comics. And in celebration of Discworld’s 25th anniversary, Harper Collins reprinted these comics in a special hardcover edition.

For those of you unfamiliar with Discworld, the series is a mixture of science-fiction, fantasy, and comedy. It takes place in a shared universe where the hero of one novel might be a supporting character in the next and the villain in the one after. The Discworld that all the characters live on is a disc is supported by four elephants who stand on the back of a giant turtle that swims through space.

If that last description sounds a little weird or wacky to you, well, welcome to Pratchett’s Discworld. If Monty Python wrote The Lord of the Rings, you might get similar results. Pratchett’s writing is laugh-out-loud funny and he uses these novels to poke fun not only at sci-fi/fantasy conventions but also the world in general. He aims his satiric eye at bureaucracies, politics and society as a whole as well as wizards, warlocks, and barbarians.

As you can imagine, the Discworld novels are tricky ones to adapt into any form, yet beg -- almost scream -- to make the jump to comic books. Part of the magic of the novels is Pratchett’s witty turns of phrase and the deft way he develops his characters, two aspects often lost when novels are adapted into comic book form, yet the themes and concepts feel right at home in the four-color medium.

This collection reprints the contents of two four-issue miniseries that were published in 1992 and 1993, adapting Pratchett’s first two Discworld novels, The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic. They stand as good, albeit flawed, adaptations.

Both series star Rincewind, a bumbling wizard with a sacred spell accidentally trapped inside his mind. Thrown out of Wizard School, he wants nothing more than to waste his days away at a pub. Unfortunately for him, fate intercedes when Rincewind is forced to become the guide of Twoflower, a tourist from a strategically important island. This results in an epic adventure which eventually leads to Rincewind having to act to save all of Discworld.

The graphic novels capture the wit and humor of the novels quite nicely. Granted, it loses something in the translation, but provides an excellent introduction to Pratchett’s writing. Fans of the novels will enjoy seeing their favorite characters come to life and newcomers should be thoroughly entertained.

This isn’t to say this is a perfect adaptation. It is a bit choppy at times. There are several transitions that are a little too abrupt, there are characters that are not named, and scenes that are truncated a bit too much. And the main character’s robe changes color from one page to the next. These faults result in the comic being more confusing than it needed to be, something which could have been avoided with better editing.

Hiccups aside, all in all these comics capture the spirit and tone of Pratchett’s epic stories quite well, although, as is the case with most adaptations, the novels are better. However, this graphic novel is good enough to make readers want to pick up the original books to find out more.






Literary Scholar Andrew H. Miller On Solitude As a Common Bond

Andrew H. Miller's On Not Being Someone Else considers how contemplating other possibilities for one's life is a way of creating meaning in the life one leads.


Fransancisco's "This Woman's Work" Cover Is Inspired By Heartache (premiere)

Indie-folk brothers Fransancisco dedicate their take on Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work" to all mothers who have lost a child.


Rodd Rathjen Discusses 'Buoyancy', His Film About Modern Slavery

Rodd Rathjen's directorial feature debut, Buoyancy, seeks to give a voice to the voiceless men and boys who are victims of slavery in Southeast Asia.


Hear the New, Classic Pop of the Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" (premiere)

The Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" is a pop tune, but pop as heard through ears more attuned to AM radio's glory days rather than streaming playlists and studio trickery.


Blitzen Trapper on the Afterlife, Schizophrenia, Civil Unrest and Our Place in the Cosmos

Influenced by the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Blitzen Trapper's new album Holy Smokes, Future Jokes plumbs the comedic horror of the human condition.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Fire in the Time of Coronavirus

If we venture out our front door we might inhale both a deadly virus and pinpoint flakes of ash. If we turn back in fear we may no longer have a door behind us.


Sufjan Stevens' 'The Ascension' Is Mostly Captivating

Even though Sufjan Stevens' The Ascension is sometimes too formulaic or trivial to linger, it's still a very good, enjoyable effort.

Jordan Blum

Chris Smither's "What I Do" Is an Honest Response to Old Questions (premiere + interview)

How does Chris Smither play guitar that way? What impact does New Orleans have on his music? He might not be able to answer those questions directly but he can sure write a song about it.


Sally Anne Morgan Invites Us Into a Metaphorical Safe Space on 'Thread'

With Thread, Sally Anne Morgan shows that traditional folk music is not to be smothered in revivalist praise. It's simply there as a seed with which to plant new gardens.


Godcaster Make the Psych/Funk/Hard Rock Debut of the Year

Godcaster's Long Haired Locusts is a swirling, sloppy mess of guitars, drums, flutes, synths, and apparently whatever else the band had on hand in their Philly basement. It's a highly entertaining and listenable album.


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.


The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.


Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.


'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.


'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"


Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.


The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.