It’s a major challenge adapting 19th Century literature with some kind of supernatural twist. Even harder is adapting anything Charles Dickens wrote and make it not garbage (“A Vampire Christmas Carol” is one such garbage.) Peter David decided to write a novel based on “Oliver Twist” but instead focus on Dodger and add vampires called “Artful.” This novel has been adapted into comic book form by Nicole D’Andria with art by Laura Neubert and the first issue shows how to properly do these things.
Jack Dawkins, AKA Artful Dodger, is a miscreant living in the slums of 19th Century England. He meets an upper-class woman named Alexandrina (Drina) and he shows her how life is like on the streets.
Yes, there are vampires but we only see two and so far they have little to do with Dodger.
With that said, this comic seems to be close to how a novel is written since it is taking its time to world build/introduce characters. It may be unconventional, but it seems to work in the story’s favor.
One thing that this story does right is it does not retell a novel and just add vampires to it. It also focuses on a minor character and expands on his adventures. This shows creativity on David’s part and that he understands how to do what’s essentially satire.
What some people will find a headache is that the characters speak in the typical Cockney accent. For some Americans, this is hard to read and understand even though it adds a layer of authenticity to the story. Cockney is also used in “Oliver Twist, so this is more copying the original than anything else.
The art doesn’t hold up to the story. It’s mediocre at best. Some of the character’s make these weird facial expressions and the way the entire design of the comic seems a bit unpolished. It’s not poor art, it just needs a bit more polishing.
‘Artful” takes what some consider a horrible genre and proves that it can be done correctly. With an understanding of creative story telling combined with knowing to use minor characters this is the only readable story in this genre. The art needs work, but it doesn’t hinder the reader’s enjoyment.