Tag Archives: Tom Smith


Welcome back to “Isla Nubar” (misspelled like this on the contents page) and Dark Horse International‘s UK version of Jurassic Park from 1993, edited by Dick Hansom. A rather strange cover by Gil Kane and George Perez, given how no dinosaurs have escaped yet. It’s a mishmash of named characters and extras, including a rather red-faced man in the middle. Maybe the raptor is holding his nose.

Inside is the second 28-page chapter of Topps Comics‘ adaptation and a few extras, something we were accustomed to this side of the pond. First up is an advertisement for John Williams‘ soundtrack album. I owned the CD at the time and have been listening to it on Apple Music while reading these. There’s a competition for glow-in-the-dark stickers, a somewhat unimpressive prize compared to later ones I remember. No comics checklist this month, instead a glance at the other titles currently in publication.

The strip continues adding to existing scenes while moving others about in order to adapt the film to the medium, something I discussed in more depth last time. This chapter begins where we left off in the midst of that iconic brachiosaur scene and there’s quite a lot of additional dialogue from Michael Crichton’s novel, such as Dr Alan Grant‘s and Dr Ellie Satler‘s further observations.

One part lifted directly from the book involves a little bit of background on the park itself. To achieve something of this magnitude would require more people than just those on the island, so John Hammond explains others were involved across the globe, knowing only their specific part of the puzzle. To maintain secrecy they were never let in on the bigger picture. The novel goes into things like this in a lot more detail to ground the fantastical story in the real world and if you haven’t already you really should read it yourself (or get the audiobook which is expertly brought to life by Scott Brick).

From here we make our way to the Visitor’s Centre, our characters excitedly discussing what they’ve seen, trying to take it all in. After the Mr. DNA sequence we find ourselves in the lab where we meet Dr. Henry Wu, who was played by BD Wong. In the novel Wu was a central character and certainly not the affable person we saw in the movie.

Crichton’s Wu was ruthlessly ambitious, believed the success of Jurassic Park was solely down to him and never saw the dinosaurs as real; they were engineered adaptations of the originals. He argued with Hammond about the ability to create any dinosaur they wanted, even new breeds, tailoring them to exact requirements to bring in the most money from paying tourists. All of this would of course form the main plot of the fourth movie, Jurassic World. However, in the comic his role is reduced even further than in the first film, appearing in only three panels with most of his dialogue given to Hammond.

“I’m simply saying that life finds a way.”

Dr. Ian Malcolm

One character who definitely doesn’t suffer this indignity is Dr. Ian Malcolm, so memorably encapsulated by Jeff Goldblum that you can’t help but hear his voice when reading one of his many quotable lines. In the novel Malcom’s fascinating monologues ran to several pages and for the film their essence was broken down and brought to life by Goldblum’s very natural delivery, becoming the backbone of the story.

This continues in the comic although his characterisation is a little different thanks to Gil and George. Overall he’s still the cool mathematician but his facial expressions make the character a little darker in tone, lending his predictions a more sinister feel. This actually suits the comic. Scenes here don’t have the luxury of playing out over several pages to build tension, so this little tweak in tone works a treat instead. Below is one example as he delivers his most famous line, used as marketing for later movies in the series.

While the Tyrannosaurus rex was the biggest dinosaur and the most publicised, the stars were the Velociraptors. Apart from a baby their existence is merely hinted at and talked about for much of the film in an expertly crafted script that built tension for their final reveal and dominance in the latter acts. But young comic readers wouldn’t want to wait three issues to see them on the page.

Jurassic Park is a very quotable movie, with a surprising amount of dialogue taken directly from the novel

So, just like last month we’re treated to prehistoric flashbacks to these great hunters in their natural environment (highlighted by Tom Smith‘s change in colours) when game warden Robert Muldoon (Bob Peck) introduces them during that memorable dinnertime cow scene. With a graphic novel it’d be easier to follow the movie more closely, but writer Walter Simonson and story editor Jim Salicrup had to give readers a monthly dose of the ‘raptors and I think these scenes are a great solution and a natural fit.

Ian Malcolm‘s quotes aren’t the only ones to survive the transition to comic form. Jurassic Park is a very quotable movie, with a surprising amount of dialogue taken directly from the novel. Some would have to be excised for this shorter form of storytelling but here are a small selection of those to be found in this second issue.

For some reason the comic changes the recorded in-car voice to James Earl-Jones from the film’s Richard Kiley. Maybe Earl-Jones was better known to the comic audience? On a side note, Crichton chose Kiley’s voice in the book so I thought it was brilliant how Spielberg actually got Kiley to play the part!

The story rolls along until we find ourselves at the T. rex paddock complete with a very worried goat and an almost gloating Malcolm. He knows the park can’t work, knows the natural systems in play are too complex to control and as far as he’s concerned chaos theory proves it. Unfortunately we lose the lovely butterfly effect scene between him and Ellie, but then again without Jeff’s delivery it would probably fall flat.

Maybe this is just a way of speeding the story along, because we’d never have bought Alan [Grant] doing this in the movie.

However, after the others jump out of the vehicle we still get to laugh at him talking to himself about talking to himself, John Workman‘s speech bubbles pointing away from the action, highlighting the fact he’s chittering away on his own. It’s a very funny way to present this moment, I actually laughed when I read it despite seeing the film countless times already.

At this point we see more evidence of changes to the comic’s pacing in order to fit it all in. In the film Alan jumps out of the moving car when he sees and hears something in a field beside them. Here, he’s out of the car before it’s even started moving away from the T. rex paddock, climbing through a gap in the fence simply because he’s fed up of not seeing any dinosaurs.

It’s not exactly the safest of places to go for a dander! So maybe this is just a way of speeding the story along because we’d never have bought Alan doing this in the movie. It’s the first time I’ve questioned a change made by the comic’s team. Yes, the very next page is the last but come on, they could’ve simply added a caption to indicate they’d moved away from the T. rex first!

This isn’t a case of going back to the book either because in that they see a vet with a sick Stegosaurus and walk over in a safe environment, whereas here you can see they get surprised by an apparently healthy Triceratops. Same species as the film but this isn’t how the encounter played out. Could there be a major change of plot here? Or just a quick cheat for a cliffhanger? We’ll find out next month.

If chapter one was the introduction to the story, the setting and the characters, this month has been the build up. We all know next month will include the elements all coming together to create the disaster that befalls the park so I’m interested to see how that will be adapted for the comic and how successful it will be.

Straight after the strip is the second of the behind-the-scenes features, explaining the differences between the four special effects teams and what each of their roles were. Miniature photography for animatics and choreography, the full-motion live-action creations, the mechanics for those beasts and of course the CGI. It’s easy to forget these days just how far ahead of anything else Jurassic Park was in 1993. The fact it looks just as spectacular 28 years later is testament to the hugely talented individuals who worked so hard to create Spielberg’s vision.

I saw the film in a Glasgow cinema with my dad and then devoured the novel that summer, after which I bought a fantastic book called The Making of Jurassic Park by Don Shay and Jody Duncan. There had been such books for movies before but the level of detail in this one was second-to-none. Fascinating stuff but lost when I moved out of home years later. These features have me eager to read it again.

On the back cover was another advert with that timeless logo and the island sunset. More a tease, it announced the inevitable videogame coming to multiple formats in three months’ time. More memories are flooding back because I owned the Nintendo Game Boy game and spent many a late night in bed before school playing it under the covers with that massive, heavy light attachment on top of the little monochrome screen. Happy memories indeed.

For reasons now lost to time the third issue of Jurassic Park would only take three weeks to arrive, releasing on 19th August, the penultimate Thursday of the month rather than the last like the first two issues. Oh well, it just means there’s less time to wait. But, from #4 it changes again to the last Tuesday of every month, so there’ll be a longer gap between the next two! Very confusing. Why this happened is anyone’s guess.

But the main thing is that #3 is here in just 21 days’ time on Thursday 19th August 2021. Until then, don’t move. It can’t see you if you don’t move.


We’re jumping back 28 years now to the first issue of Dark Horse International‘s UK version of the Jurassic Park comic. How can that film be 28 years old? Anyway, published by Topps Comics in the States, over here it was repackaged on larger A4 paper of a higher quality, with that distinct Dark Horse banner and over the course of its run included extra features, competitions and back up strips like most UK comics.

By a happy coincidence 24th June was a Thursday in 1993 so it looks like each issue will be up on the blog on the same day of the week as the original run. Surprisingly this first issue went on sale before the movie was released over here, which didn’t stomp its way into cinemas until 16th July.

As I noted in the introductory post I’d originally spotted an issue of the adaptation in a shop but never bothered to buy it. I hadn’t enjoyed comics adaptations of movies previously and also felt I’d moved on from the medium. (We all make mistakes.) My first issue ended up being #6 and by then it contained three strips per issue, but it hadn’t started out that way. This first issue is cover-to-cover Isla Nublar, containing the first full chapter of the adaptation, a whopping 29 pages in length with the rest of the 36-page comic containing features that I’ll get to below.

Edited by Dick Hansom (Aliens, Total Carnage, Speakeasy) there was never an editorial and instead a simple credits page for the strips, but the background of the island sets the scene. Let’s talk about that team Topps Comics assembled to adapt the film to comic form! As a fan of the franchise I’m pleasantly surprised by the names here. I may not have been aware of who all but one were at the time but I certainly am now.

The one name I did recognise originally was Jim Salicrup thanks to Transformers and whose adaptation of the Visionaries origin story has also been reviewed here on the blog. He also edited multiple superhero comics for the company before moving to Topps and eventually to Papercutz where he now resides as Editor-in-Chief, alongside being a trustee of the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art. Writer Walter Simonson was tasked with adapting the screenplay and is probably best known for creating Star Slammers (featured in Havoc comic here in the UK), writing/drawing Thor for nearly five years in the 80s, drawing Robocop vs Terminator and writing Iron Man 2020 who popped up in the UK version of Transformers.

“You’ll decide you’ll control nature, and from that moment on you’re in deep trouble, because you can’t do it.”

Michael Crichton

Penciller Gil Kane sadly passed in 2000 but leaves behind a wealth of comics work on everything from Action Comics to Teen Titans and co-creating Iron Fist for Marvel. He was the artist on landmark stories in The Amazing Spider-Man, tales which led the Comics Code Authority to rewrite their rules about the depiction of drug abuse. Inker George Perez has won several awards for his comics artwork throughout his career, co-creating the characters White Tiger and Taskmaster for Marvel and he was artist on Crisis of Infinite Earths, The Avengers and Teen Titans amongst many others. George also wrote and drew on the highly regarded Wonder Woman of the late 80s and early 90s.

Colourist Tom Smith has worked for so many comics companies it’d be impossible to fit them all in here. Marvel, DC, IDW, Topps, Top Cow, Malibu and more. The Avengers, Hulk, X-Men and Justice League are just some examples of his artwork and he’s coloured for such legendary artists as Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko. Finally, John Workman lettered the complete run of Doom Patrol and has been a frequent partner of Walter’s. His style stands out, opening up the panel frames when his speech balloons or captions touch them, as evidenced throughout these early issues of Jurassic Park. John has also created strips for Star*Reach and lettered critically acclaimed titles such as Thor and Michael Moorcock’s Multiverse. What a team!

It’s important to put this story in the context of its time. Nowadays, mainly thanks to the film series we know details about dinosaurs and their social orders, hunting habits and intelligence. They’re no longer the lumbering, stupid lizards of stop-motion special effects. This all changed with the first Jurassic Park and reading this exchange between Dr. Ellie Satler (portrayed in the movie by Laura Dern) and Dr. Alan Grant, taken from the novel rather than the film, takes me right back to that time when this was all new information.

But taking me back also worries me. You see, as a kid I found comics adaptations of movies always seemed to have issues, such as excising whole scenes, leaving huge plot holes behind, or they’d copy some moments word-for-word but with artwork that failed to convey any of the drama, making exciting scenes rather dull. They felt very rushed with little thought given to what would work.

It’s brave to take up four pages with the opening of a gate!

Instead of falling into the traps above for a quick cash in, Walter seems to be properly adapting the story for the comics medium. Take the scene above for example. In the movie Alan (Sam Neill) simply described the hunting techniques of a velociraptor to the child. With his raptor claw fossil in hand and using it with slow, deliberate movements, Neill’s tone and delivery made this scene foreboding and funny in equal measure. This wouldn’t work in a comic, so instead we’re shown what the kid could’ve been imagining at this moment. It’s from this we get our cover image too.

Some scenes remain unchanged, at least in their dialogue if not their setting. The classic Dodgson scene with Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight) is played out pretty much as it is in the film, but then again what’s in the film is almost verbatim what Crichton originally wrote in his book. So when it’s already worked in written form it doesn’t require changing. Speaking of the book, on more than one occasion some of its original ideas and dialogue, changed for the film, can be found here.

The following page is a good example, showing our main characters arriving on a helicopter at Isla Nublar, an island which covered in a thick fog in the original novel but not the film. There are also more details from Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) on how Chaos Theory predicts the experiment will fail. Crichton’s novel can often give several pages at once to Ian to describe his theories so obviously the movie had to simplify things, but they were utterly fascinating to read and in the comic just a little bit more of that original text is slipped in.

With an adaptation like this the aim is to have it on the shelves when the movie hits cinemas. This means work would commence with an earlier draft of the screenplay. As the screenplay changes from one draft to another some of those alterations come too late, meaning the comic could contain parts of the previous versions. In the case of Jurassic Park it makes for fascinating reading at times for a fan like me who knows the film so well.

However, the biggest change in this first chapter definitely comes as a result of the medium and the requirement to split the film’s story into four chunks. If I were to tell you that the cliffhanger at the end of chapter one is the first encounter with the brachiosaur, where John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) had his “Welcome to Jurassic Park” moment in the film, fans should instantly be querying why these next four pages are in this issue. (Actually, Hammond had his moment in the comic when they landed in the helicopter.)

These pages do look wonderfully dramatic, though. It’s brave to take up four pages with the opening of a gate! In the film this didn’t happen until after we’d been fed all the science behind the park and the characters were heading out on the inaugural tour.  But this isn’t the comic team taking liberties with the story. The first chapter is very much about making the introductions and with a distinct lack of dinosaurs some changes had to be made to grip readers to the overall story. If that means some iconic scenes have to be moved or elaborated on visually (like with the child’s imagination earlier), then so be it.

I think it was a smart move to rearrange the placement of this scene, but some people will always complain about such changes, like how movies have to change certain aspects of a book.  Well of course they do, it’s a completely different medium. Books based on films also add and rearrange elements of the story or characters to suit the reading experience, but they’re still the same story, just adapted to suit. Having read the novel, I’ve always felt Spielberg did a perfect job of translating Michael Crichton’s novel to the screen and now the comic was adapting Spielberg’s adaptation!

I do believe Hammond’s famous line would’ve worked better as part of this cliffhanger, but that’s just personal preference. There is one difference from the film I’m not keen on. In Crichton’s original story, while Grant overlooks the landscape he mistakes a brachiosaur’s neck in the distance for the trunk of a tall tree, until the dinosaur moves. Here, he’s meant to mistake a leg for a tree instead as they drive within a few metres of it. They didn’t see the giant tail or the belly over their heads?  If this was the original idea for the film I’m glad they changed it.

The final double-page is a beautiful image of their first encounter, with the remainder of this classic scene hopefully playing out next month. The captions make reference to the creatures welcoming them to the island and is also lifted straight from the book. In the novel the brachiosaurs come to this area whenever the helicopter approaches the island, eager to see the humans who they associate with looking after them. It’s a lovely, tender moment in the book designed to give a false sense of tranquility to the island.

When I collected Jurassic Park back at the time it was cover-to-cover strips, with the occasional competition and comics adverts thrown in for good measure. It was a pleasant surprise to see a series of additional features about the making of the movie in these early issues.

They begin right back at the beginning, long before any filming had taken place, informing the reader about Amblin and Spielberg buying the rights, their first impressions and what they felt were the scientific and moral highlights. These were the important things they’d want to concentrate on when developing their own vision.  It makes for a good if somewhat brief read and there’s more to come over the next few months.

There’s also a checklist of Dark Horse’s local and import comics to be released over the next month. I can remember picking up an issue of their Aliens comic at some stage on a family holiday. It must’ve been before Jurassic Park because the trademark banner on the cover of this comic was already familiar at the time. I didn’t know there was a Dracula title and, while Jurassic Park has started out with just one strip every month, it’s clear its stablemates were similar to other UK comic publishers’ titles, especially the aforementioned Aliens.

So there you go, our first look at Jurassic Park UK, a comic which has been sadly largely forgotten in the intervening years. I adored it and I can’t wait to share those later issues with you but so far I’m actually enjoying a comic movie adaptation, which is noteworthy in and of itself.

To finish here are your obligatory retro advertisements. I’m not too sure about some of those t-shirt designs but given half the chance as a 15-year-old I’d have jumped at the chance. On the back page is Kenner‘s toy range. I wasn’t even aware there was one. Obviously for a younger audience than I was but I’m still surprised I never spotted them in the shops.

There are some brilliant Jurassic merchandise adverts in this series and I’ll definitely be including them as we go, alongside those for some very-90s comics. I hope you’ll come along for the ride because it’s going to be great. After all, it has been 65 million years in the making.

Issue two of Jurassic Park will be roaring its way on to the blog on Thursday 29th July.