Troy Little wasn't the only San Diego Comic Con attendee decked out in Hunter S. Thompson cosplay, but he may well have been the most loyal.
If I'm being honest, I didn't expect the cartoonist behind Top Shelf's Thompson Estate-sanctioned Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas adaptation to actually arrive dressed as the beloved journalist, but as he approached, the costume came into full focus: a Hawaiian shirt, yellow-tinted aviator glasses and a pen in his mouth standing in for the iconic cigarette.
But the lynchpin was a beautiful red, blue and beige patchwork safari jacket modeled on the Abercrombie & Fitch getups the journalist wore at the height of gonzo.
"A guy in New Zealand made it," Little explains, as we sat down to discuss Fear and Loathing. "I subcontracted it. I ordered it in September and it came last week."
It's the sort of attention to detail one requires when adapting one of the most beloved memoirs of the past 50 years. For his part, Little attempted to stay as true to the original text as possible, circumventing the equally iconic 1998 Terry Gilliam movie adaptation in favor of Thompson's original writing.
"I didn't add anything to it," explains Little. "The movie rearranged the events in some cases. But every word in the book is Hunter's. If anything, it's an honest homage to the novel. In a few places to bridge a scene, I added some dialog here or there, and [publisher Ted Adams] noticed it right away. He told me not to add any of my own stuff - to keep it really clear."
Little even went so far as avoiding re-visiting the film early on in the year-long process, instead relying on interviews with Thompson to further cement the manic tone he found lacking in the relatively subdued roles played by Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro.
"I love Gilliam, I love the film, but when I was re-reading the novel, it had such a manic energy that I wanted to show," Little adds. "Eventually I watched the movie as a refresher, but the dialog just wasn't as punchy in the places I wanted it to be. I wanted it be more intense and amped up in the comic."
Little's art marks a strong aesthetic departure from previous depictions, both cinematic and with the art of Ralph Steadman, whose ink-splattered aesthetic long served as the visual counterpart to Thompson's rapid fire prose. Prior to Fear and Loathing, Little's best known work was a far more kid-friendly affair.
"I was working on a Powerpuff Girls comic for IDW and I got a random email from Ted Adams asking if I'd like to do a pitch for Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," explains Little, adding with a laugh. "The Powerpuff Girls. So I'm the obvious choice for this."
Little's adaptation of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is due out from Top Shelf in October.
Stay tuned to T-Lounge all week long for more from Comic-Con 2015.