Artist Mark Buckingham (Fables, Sandman) will adapt four of Neil Gaiman’s most unsettling short stories into a single graphic novel anthology, Likely Stories.
“The whole experience will be immersive, and unnerving,” the Buckingham told Polygon, “as the reader inhabits the narrator, encountering the other storytellers directly, and looking them in the eye as they slowly pull us into the darkest places in their lives. It should make the whole book a compelling and unsettling experience.”
Though the group of tales in Likely Stories was originally adapted for the video-on-demand service Shudder, Buckingham will be drawing directly from the stories’ original prose forms.
“This will be quite a different experience to people’s previous encounters with these tales,” said Buckingham. “I knew I wanted this to read as a cohesive whole, rather than a set of short stories, so I have woven them together, into a single narrative.”
The four tales included in Likely Stories are “Looking for the Girl” (originally published in Penthouse) and “Foreign Parts,” both of which can be found in Gaiman’s short story collection Smoke and Mirrors; as well as “Closing Time” and “Feeders and Eaters,” which can be read in Gaiman’s later collection, Fragile Things.
“‘Feeders and Eaters’ started life as a comic strip Neil and I created for a UK publisher way back in 1990,” Buckingham noted, adding that he’d been eager to take a “shot at it.” It tells the creepy tale of a man who discovers the old lady in the flat next door subsists entirely on fresh, raw meat. “Looking for the Girl” covers a photographer’s quest to find a seemingly immortal pinup model; “Foreign Parts” is about a young man suffering from an unnerving venereal disease; and “Closing Time” is best described as a classic ghost story with a metatextual twist.
“I love the fantastical and the strange,” Buckingham told Polygon, “especially those unsettling things that lurk in the periphery of your vision. The things you can ignore in the hustle and bustle of daytime or curled up in comfy armchair of a well lit and cozy home. Other people’s worlds. Other people’s stories. Things that, when moved to a darkened after-hours bar, when you’ve missed the last bus home, and find yourself talking to a stranger whose words are dragging you deeper and deeper into their personal hell become the thing of nightmares. That’s where Neil and I take you in the Likely Stories.”
And that “darkened after-hours bar” is exactly the setting that Buckingham plans to use to weave these four different stories together.
The hardcover edition of Likely Stories will hit comic shop shelves on Aug. 29, and wider bookstores on Sept. 11. It will be priced at $17.99.