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Shadow Show: Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury is an anthology of short stories inspired by the late science fiction author. The stories included contain references and draw inspiration from many of Ray Bradbury’s short stories and novels, and we will look at how a few of the tales are linked to the timeless author.
Ray Bradbury is best known for writing novels such as Fahrenheit 451, Something Wicked this Way Comes, Dandelion Wine, and the Martian Chronicles. He also wrote hundreds of short stories, several stage plays, and some screenplays. While mostly known as a science fiction writer, Bradbury’s short stories touch on nearly every genre imaginable, and his unending creativity inspired countless of today’s authors. Shadow Show is just one of the many ways these authors have attempted to pay tribute to Bradbury and features an astounding variety of short stories that relate to Bradbury’s works through either topics or themes. Shadow Show was published in 2015 through IDW publishing and contains a total of nine stories that pay tribute to Bradbury.
Shadow Show begins with an adaptation by Jason Ciaramella of a Joe Hill short story titled “The Silver Water of Lake Champlain.” It is illustrated by Charles Paul Wilson III and Jeremy Mohler. The story is about a young girl named Gail, who discovers a dead monster on the beach with a boy named Joel. The monster is similar to a giant aquatic dinosaur, and the children celebrate their discovery of the prehistoric creature. Those who have read the short story “The Fog Horn” by Ray Bradbury will be quick to realize that the creature in this story and Bradbury’s are incredibly similar, if not one in the same. This is clear from the foghorn noise that both creatures make. Another way that “The Silver Water of Lake Champlain” mirrors the works of Ray Bradbury is the young main characters. Many of Bradbury’s stories, such as Something Wicked This Way Comes and Dandelion Wine, feature children as the main characters and focus on this innocent time of life. It is difficult to capture the wonder of being a child in words or through art, but Joe Hill, Ray Bradbury, and everyone who worked on the adaptation to a comic book are able to do so successfully.
“Backwards in Seville” is a tale featured in Shadow Show that does not have a direct link to any of Bradbury’s stories. It does not feature a character from one of his short stories, an excerpt from one of his novels, or Bradbury himself as a character like other stories in the anthology do. Instead, “Backwards in Seville” relates to Bradbury purely through the themes covered in the story. “Backwards in Seville” is a story written by Audrey Niffenegger and illustrated by Eddie Campbell that follows a middle-aged woman named Helene on a cruise ship with her father and many other elderly passengers. It explores themes of life quickly going by, and how youth is wasted on the young. The story has a magical twist as well, despite most of the story appearing to be set in a realistic world. This is a staple of many of Ray Bradbury’s short stories and novels, such as Something Wicked this Way Comes. The topic of aging and growing old is also something that Bradbury was clearly fascinated with, and shows up in many of his stories, such as Dandelion Wine and “Season of Disbelief”. It would also be rude to continue without noting the beautiful and unique art style of “Backwards in Seville,” which causes Helene’s experience to seem as if she does not have a firm grasp on reality.
“Live Forever” is one of the most interesting stories told in Shadow Show, because Ray Bradbury himself is a character in it. Written by Sam Weller with art by Mark Sexton, “Live Forever” tells the story of a writer meeting his hero, Ray Bradbury, and talking about his history. The story almost seems it could be a real account when Ray Bradbury tells the writer a true story of when he was a child at a circus and was told by one of the performers to “live forever,” but soon after the story dips into the realm of fiction. Bradbury leads the writer to his basement, where many robot versions of Bradbury’s mentors are spending their time. These robots are indistinguishable from humans except for a very faint ticking noise, and are ripped directly from the Bradbury short story “Marionettes, Inc.” This story is a marvelous read because it helps illustrate just how deep of an impact Bradbury has had on many writers of today.
Shadow Show: Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury is a wonderful anthology, full of diverse topics and themes that truly capture the feeling of Bradbury’s writing. Although this article only covers a few of the stories in the anthology, Shadow Show still contains plenty of other wonderful stories that are worth looking into. I believe it would be difficult for someone to read this fantastic collection of stories and not be instantly motivated to explore the writing of Bradbury for themselves.
Are there other anthology comic books that you like? Let me know in the comments below!