Comic books: Will anyone escape 'The Strain'?

  • Article by: ANDREW A. SMITH , McClatchy News Service
  • Updated: July 9, 2014 - 1:37 PM

The fourth volume of Dark Horse's "Strain" adaptation, containing the second part of the second book, arrives July 2. (Courtesy Dark Horse/MCT) ORG XMIT: 1154678

It’s coming for you. There is no escape. You cannot avoid “The Strain.”

Mainly because “The Strain,” an infectious disease that spreads vampirism, has already appeared in novels and comics and will launch Sunday as a TV series on FX. That’s a lot of vectors to infect America!

“The Strain” first appeared in 2009 as a novel written by superstar director Guillermo del Toro, famed for his imaginative work on films such as “Hellboy,” “Pacific Rim” and “Pan’s Labyrinth.” “The Strain” spawned a couple of sequels, “The Strain: The Fall” and “The Strain: Night Eternal.”

In 2011, “The Strain” spread to comic books. Under the direction of Del Toro, writer David Lapham (“Stray Bullets”) and artist Mike Huddleston (“Homeland Directive”) adapted the first two books of the trilogy, with the adaptation of the third book beginning in August. “The Strain” series has been collected in two trade paperbacks, and also as a deluxe, single-edition hardcover shipping next week. “The Fall” has also been collected in two trade paperbacks, the second just out.

That’s a lot of disease, and no one has suffered more than Huddleston. Artists put in more man-hours on a comic book project than any other member of the creative team, and for Huddleston that’s meant three years of his professional life, and more than 500 pages — which is more than Huddleston had expected.

“I had no idea! I really didn’t!” Huddleston said with a laugh in a telephone interview. “And I think when I first signed the contract, it wasn’t quite that big. But once Guillermo really sat down and started talking with David [Lapham] about the script, he decided that it was a third bigger. So even after I said, ‘yeah,’ it got bigger.”

Huddleston calculates that when he finishes with “Night Eternal,” his work on “The Strain” will total more than 700 pages. “It’s a pretty massive project,” he said.

But Huddleston can take solace that “The Strain” has been well received by critics and readers alike. Further, he was recruited for the job by Del Toro himself.

“I’ve had a relationship a little bit with Guillermo for a few years,” Huddleston said. “I did a project about 12 years ago called ‘The Coffin,’ and Guillermo and James Cameron bought that for a film. Like we had the second issue of that miniseries out, and they’d already optioned it! That was my first connection with Guillermo. So I’ve had conversations with him over the years related to that.

“I think when this project came up he had me in mind. Because when Dark Horse called me to do the project, Guillermo had already asked for me. So for me it was kind of like an offer you can’t refuse. Here’s a director that you’re already a fan of, that you already have a relationship with on another project, and he wants you do this. I was definitely recruited. And from what I understand, the entire creative team from our cover artist to the writers, it was all the same. It was Guillermo coming and saying ‘This is the team I want to do the book.’ ”

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