Skin Trade: Collected Edition review


Given the success of Game of Thrones, it no surprise to see people checking out George R.R. Martin's earlier works of fiction to see if any of those would be suitable for adaptation into another medium. First published as part of a 1989 horror anthology entitled Dark Visions, Martin's werewolf story Skin Trade is a prime example. Not only has it recently been optioned for a film, but the novella was also adapted into a four-issue comic by Avatar Press late last year – with the collected edition now making it's way to UK shelves.

The story follows ballsy private investigator Randi Wade and her ongoing pursuit to uncover the truth about her cop father, who was killed in an unspecified 'animal attack' when she was a kid. When another body turns up showing similar signs of a frenzied animal attack, Randi finds herself drawn into a nightmarish world a werewolves and things that are even worse.

Having not read Martin's original story it's impossible to offer any comparison with this comic adaptation. However, what I can say is that writer Daniel Abraham has delivered an effective script that powers its way forward on a narrative driven by mystery, suspense and violence. If there's a problem, it's that the comic powers forward with such force that there's rarely a chance to stop to catch your breath or take stock of all of the underlying supernatural mythology that is being conjured up.

Slightly more problem is Mike Wolfer's art. Hewing closely to what could be considered the Avatar Press house style, Wolfer's illustrations cope well with dialogue scenes, but lack a the dynamism needed to bring action scenes to life. There are also some very unusual compositions, with a shot of a wolf jumping up into a window on the second-floor of a building focusing far too heavily on negative space rather than the core action. Faces sometimes go a little off-model as well, which isn't too much of a problem until one of the final twists, which necessitated re-reading to completely understand who I was actually looking at.

But, regardless of any concerns I may have about the art, Skin Trade remains a thoroughly gripping story that builds a fascinating new mythology around werewolf lore - a mythology that I wouldn't object to seeing explored further in further comic book series, if anybody is up for the challenge.

Skin Trade: Collection Edition by George R.R. Martin, Daniel Abraham and Mike Wolfer; Avatar Press/Titan Books, £13 (paperback)