Later this year, Dynamite Entertainment is set to release a brand-new adaptation of the late Robert Jordan's epic "Wheel of Time" as written by none other than Chuck Dixon. Originally published in 1990 and still being published, with recent books written from Jordan's notes by fantasy author Brandon Sanderson, the "Wheel of Time" saga follows the quest of companions in search of the Dragon Reborn in order to defeat the Dark One and save the world. The series, among one of the most popular and well-known fantasy epics in the world, was originally brought to comics when the Dabel Brothers published the prequel "New Spring," also adapted by Dixon, prior to their purchase by Dynamite Entertainment. Now, Dynamite continues the adaptation, starting at the beginning of the series with "The Eye of the World" with Chuck Dixon once again plotting the course.
"The plan is to run through the whole series. It's an ambitious plan, but I tend to stay on books until the wheels come off. The interest is certainly there," Dixon told CBR News. "The only way I can fail is to stray too much from the source material, which I have no interest in doing. My task here is to present Robert Jordan's work in the comic medium to the very best of my abilities. The success is pretty much built in. Now I have to turn my only mutant ability to telling the story as a comic.
"I'm more looking at it as a scene-by-scene deal," Dixon said of the structure of his adaptation. "Comics are visually driven, and where Jordan may have a chapter close where a character comes to a startling revelation, I need a visual hook to close out a scene or an issue."
According to Dixon, he was originally hired by Dabel Brothers based on the strength of his adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit." Despite not having read the books when he took the job, Dixon became excited about the prospect of working on the epic. "It's a chance to stretch my abilities as a comic book storyteller," he said. "Yeah, that sounds pretentious as hell, I know. But the only ability I've been given to any great degree is telling stories in a long series of static images. A project like this requires me to test that ability by bringing everything I know to bear on another writer's story. It's challenging and frustrating, but it's what they pay me for."
While not a follower of the series when he was hired for the job, the writer quickly became a fan once he read them – and he also has access to a bevy of secret behind-the-scenes materials. "I've been privy to a lot of materials not readily available. Kind of inside baseball stuff. That said, the visual reference that I would normally do isn't necessary here, as all of this stuff had to be totally imagined from the ground up. I leave that kind of heavy lifting to the artists, since they're the ones who have to draw it."
His hard work aside, Dixon did admit that he feels that the biggest draw for fans will be seeing the images on the page. "[Fans will probably be most excited about] the eye candy. I mean, you can read the novels and get the characters and story," he explained. "But there's something cool in seeing the whole deal come to life on a comics page."
If that wasn't enough for longtime fans of the series, Dixon told CBR News that so far, he has not made any serious edits for the comic. "So far, nothing has been cut," he said. "The only real fixing to the current issues has been extending some of the action to get more out of it for comic book purposes."
Dixon's positive attitude in approaching the project aside, adapting a much-beloved twelve novel series is not without its challenges. For Dixon, that challenge comes in the form of adapting Jordan's immortal words. "Much of what Jordan wrote is internal," the writer said. "This is typical in prose fiction, but is death on the comics page. So, I need to expand scenes that are maybe only a few sentences in the text to provide visual stuff for the artist. And I need to re-order stuff a bit to give action scenes between the plot development scenes. And I do all this without losing anything from the original. I'm pleased that the author, before his untimely death, approved of the kind of changes that needed to be made. Robert Jordan understood the comics medium and was very forgiving and understanding of the challenges I faced on this."
But what is Chuck Dixon most excited about when it comes to the release of "Wheel of Time?" "Job security! But seriously, I like a lengthy commitment on a project so I can settle in and really invest myself in the material," he said. "And with something as richly imagined as this, the fun is all built in."