Review by Ian Keogh
The story presented in The Shrinking Man is probably best known as that of the 1950s sci-fi classic movie The Incredible Shrinking Man, although screenplay writer Richard Matheson simultaneously wrote a novel featuring his preferred less linear storytelling method. It’s largely horror with a science-fiction element, but providing a sideline examining the 1950s idea of masculinity. Can a man who’s shrinking still keep his family as expected? It’s the novel that Ted Adams and Mark Torres adapt, beginning with Scott Carey aboard a yacht sailing into a mysterious fog. Shortly afterwards he begins shrinking and continues to shrink. Over the opening chapter that process is juxtaposed as flashbacks with Carey’s desperate later predicament when shrunk to just under an inch.
Because Carey is shown at different heights when compared to his wife, there’s a sense of disorientation to Mark Torres’ art from the start. However, even allowing for that, the perspective is skewed and the scenes of Carey beginning to shrink in the company of his wife are unconvincing, and peculiarly stiff poses and a lack of depth don’t help. Torres is better at drawing the dangers Carey faces when far smaller, dwarfed in a basement, giving these the necessary lethal threat.
It’s an essentially tragic tale, as Carey ends up living his daughter’s dolls house, the child he once cared for and comforted now seeing him as nothing more than a plaything, during a scene Adams and Torres bring out well. That’ll be familiar from the film, but several other scenes weren’t used, either due to time constraints or being unable to escape the censors of the day. They’ll surprise anyone who’s just seen the film version, and while those who’ve read the book will find it a faithful adaptation, the art won’t be to all tastes.
This was subsequently collected with three other adaptations as Richard Matheson: Master of Terror – Graphic Novel Collection.