The Phantom of the Opera is going from stage to page in the new graphic novel adaptation from Titan Comics, written by Cavan Scott with artwork by José María Beroy. It drops in the U.K. on December 7, followed by a U.S. release January 11.
Based directly on the Broadway's longest running musical with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, lyrics by Charles Hart, and a book by Webber and Richard Stilgoe, the fully authorized graphic novel translates the gothic tale of the Paris Opera House Phantom and the object of his desire, soprano Christine Daaé into a 113-page full color comic.
Scott, who has authored works in several other familiar series such as Doctor Who, Star Wars, and Vikings, spoke with Playbill about the challenge of adapting the musical to the graphic novel format. Read the interview below and get a sneak peek at a few pages from the new book.
What about The Phantom of the Opera made you think it would adapt well to a graphic novel?
Cavan Scott: I was approached by Titan Comics to see if I would be interested in adapting the musical as a graphic novel and immediately jumped at the chance. I’m a huge fan of musical theatre, and Phantom in particular, and reveled the challenge. The first step was to break down the musical to see if I could match the pacing within a graphic novel format, focusing on key set pieces that I knew we needed to have, such as the the Phantom’s wrath as he sees Christine and Raoul together.
How do you translate the musicality of a large-scale musical to the pages of a book?
Scott: The joy about Phantom is that it is a musical about an Opera and therefore there are entire scenes where the cast are singing anyway, which we’ve translated into the page. From there, it isn’t too much to ask the reader to believe that our characters burst into song as a matter of course. I wanted to keep that conceit. This isn’t an adaptation of the original novel, but the show.
Are the lyrics still intact or have the songs been rewritten as prose dialogue?
Scott: They’re mostly intact, although some had to be abridged to fit. Otherwise, the graphic novel would have been as unwieldy as a chandelier, whether it is in pieces or not. And whenever possible I kept them as lyrics, rather than being rewritten as dialogue.
Since there are no songs, what does the “heavy lifting” in this graphic novel? Is it dialogue? Is it artwork?
Scott: As with all comic work, it’s a combination of both. The joy of this one is that we can play with some of the settings. We’re not limited to a stage and so can move the characters around the Opera House and beyond, plus are able to play with close ups and things that would be impossible to pull off in the theatre, such as little moments where we glimpse the Phantom in the background of panels, watching everything.
Speaking of artwork, what will Phantom audiences recognize in the pages?
Scott: I hope they will enjoy José’s interpretations of classic costumes and moments, from the Hannibal rehearsals (complete with severed head) to the masquerade (including, of course, the Phantom’s Red Death). And of course, there is our very own version of the iconic mask.
What will comic book fans be excited to see?
Scott: There are some incredible splash pages, from the Phantom’s first appearance in Christine’s mirror to an Escher-inspired descent into the catacombs and beyond.
Just for fun, what other musicals would you like to adapt into graphic novels?
Scott: Oh, that’s an interesting question. A noir-drenched Chicago graphic novel could be a lot of fun! Or maybe Annie in the style of the original strips!
In the U.K., The Phantom of the Opera graphic novel hits comic shops, Forbidden Planet, and bookstores on December 7, 2021.
Order from Forbidden Planet or Waterstones. Also available: Forbidden Planet Exclusive Signed Mini Print Edition
In the US/CAN, The Phantom of the Opera graphic novel hits comic shops and bookstores on January 11, 2022.
Order from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Indigo.
The Phantom of the Opera graphic novel will be available on digital devices on January 11, 2022. Pre-order for digital devices.