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Late last year, at my pop culture blog, I interviewed Alex Robinson about Too Cool to Be Forgotten. It was a really enjoyable interview (a fellow XTC fan is always a welcome addition to any discussion), so when I found out his new project was adapting L. Frank Baum’s Christmas tale, A Kidnapped Santa Claus, I decided it was time to catch up with him for another discussion.
Tim O’Shea: What was the biggest challenge to expanding the original Baum 10 prose pages to your adaptation’s 60 pages?
Alex Robinson: At first I was thinking that I was going to have to add a lot of material, and since the original story mostly focused on the plot I figured I could beef up the characterizations and try to give the characters a little more depth. It turned out I didn’t really need to add that much, since there’s relatively a lot of plot for such a short story.
The other challenge was deciding how closely I wanted to stick with Baum’s original dialogue and ideas. I wanted to stay true to the source material but I also felt like I had to update it a bit if it was going to resonate with children today.
O’Shea: How much fun and creative freedom did you gain in expanding the story?
Robinson: Since the book is part of a series in which cartoonists adapt classic stories Harper really wanted it to be fairly close to the original, but they also gave me a lot of freedom within that framework. Does make any sense? Aside from beefing up the characterization of the supporting cast (they’re little more than names in the original story) I tinkered around with the ending. I explained to my editor what I was doing and why I thought it should be changed and they were okay with it.
It was actually a lot of fun taking someone else’s story and adapting it. It’s kind of like covering a song in music, I imagine. Without having to worry about the basic structure there wasn’t as much pressure.