Many stories have been written about Sin City, but the platinum standard remains Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Hunter S. Thompson’s “savage journey to the heart of the American dream” has been an enduring classic for more than 40 years, inspiring everything from a 1996 spoken-word album to a 1998 Terry Gilliam feature film.
Thompson’s story is about to get a little more … colorful. Artist Troy Little has created a graphic novel version of Fear and Loathing (IDW/Top Shelf Productions, $25), full of reptile hallucinations, red Cadillacs screeching down the Strip and, of course, Jefferson Airplane’s deathless “White Rabbit.”
“It was an honor to do it,” Little says. Publishing house IDW secured the rights to Fear and Loathing several years ago but finding the right artist to put pictures to Thompson’s words was a process. “When I first got the pitch for it, I spent a couple of weeks not doing it because I was too intimidated,” Little says, adding, “When I finally was forced to send it in, I spent the night stomping around and cursing the project, thinking I wasn’t going to get it.” It was an approach much in rapport with Thompson himself, who was notorious for stomping, cursing and avoiding deadlines.
The script of the graphic novel is taken directly from the book. “We wanted to keep true to the text,” Little says. He spent a year adapting the story to a new medium, and then drawing, lettering, inking and coloring.
“It’s a great visual novel, there’s so much to draw from—pun-intended,” Little says. “There were some scenes I was really looking forward to drawing: The race across the desert at the beginning and the hotel scene with ‘White Rabbit’ in the bathtub.”
Depicting the characters’ altered states of mind was also something that excited Little about the project: “You can melt the pages when they’re on acid. I have a couple of pages where you have to turn the book around while you’re reading it because all of the text goes upside down. … I felt like if you played it straight—a realistic-looking comic book—it would kind of fall flat. It wouldn’t capture that energy.”
Little will be going on a book tour, which will include his first trip to Las Vegas. “I’m going about it totally bass-ackwards,” he says. “After drawing the book up in Canada, I’m going to go down to Vegas and see what it’s all about.”
But how will he be getting to Las Vegas?
“Gonzo road trip,” Little says. “We’re renting a red convertible and barreling through the desert.” Dr. Gonzo wouldn’t have it any other way.
Book Tour Appearances
4-7 p.m. Nov. 12, Maximum Comics No. 2, 520 Marks St. Suite 130, 702-242-6442, MaximumComics.com.
Noon-3 p.m. Nov. 13, Maximum Comics No. 3, 7950 W. Tropical Pkwy, Suite 120, 702-722-6642, MaximumComics.com.
7-9 p.m. Nov. 13, Barnes & Noble, 2191 N. Rainbow Blvd., 702-631-1775, BarnesAndNoble.com/Store/2772.
9:30 p.m.-2 a.m. Nov. 13 (karaoke party), free, Flex Lounge, 4371 W. Charleston Blvd., 702-385-3539, FlexLasVegas.com.