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Comic Book / Norby

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In the 1990s, Boys Life published a Comic-Book Adaptation of the first two Norby stories. Crediting Janet Asimov and Isaac Asimov as the original authors, they published the first book, Norby, the Mixed-Up Robot, from January 1990 to July 1991 (skipping the February 1991 issue). The second book, Norby's Other Secret, was published from January 1993 to December 1995 (skipping the March 1994, July 1994, March 1995, and August 1995 issues). The artist for the first adaptation was Ernie Colón, while Terry Tidwell created the second adaptation.

While the artists had to condense the story to make it fit within the pages allotted by Boys' Life, their most dramatic change from the books is probably deciding to draw Norby with a red body and forward-facing feet/eyes, rather than his silver body and ability to move/see forward and backward with identical ease.

Norby provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Backstory Change: Rather than Albany losing her clothes in school, the story is changed to trick fountain pens. She's still recognized as the first victim and Fargo as the culprit.
  • Adaptation Distillation: Much of the dialogue and internal thoughts are removed to make the story shorter, as each page has to tell a small story on its own. This includes the discussion of positronic brains and the Three Laws of Robotics with the robot salesman, as well as discussions of Solarism and Oneness, or Jeff's visit with Zi and Zargl. Such elements were typically cut because this is an adventure comic that only gets one page a month. By shifting from a purely written medium to a visual medium, many of the descriptions were able to be ignored as well, simplifying the process.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Several Downplayed examples, as Ing the Ingrate is introduced as Ing the Merciless. This epitet is one of several that Ing used in the novels and the comic, but the comic introduces him as the Merciless and is persistent with the name, while the novel preferred the Ingrate. The salesman calls Norby an R-2 robot, instead of an R2, and also says the spacer who repaired Norby was named MacGillicuddy, rather than the novel's McGillicuddy (it is correctly rendered when Admiral Yobo says his name in the second adaptation). The Space Command agent distressed by Jeff breaking the kitchen computers, Gridlow, is changed to Widlow. The Inventors Union that wants to take Norby apart is changed to an Inventors Cartel to sound more sinister.
  • Black Dot Pupils: The characters' eyes shift from tiny black dots with skin-coloured sclerae to black dots with white sclera when the characters are closer, to fully-coloured irises when closest to the "camera". The absence of irises is only for the first adaptation, as the second one tries to preserve eye details even at a distance.
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: This comic series was created for Boys Life, producing full-page comics from Norby, the Mixed-Up Robot (18 chapters, adapted by Ernie Colón) and Norby's Other Secret (32 chapters, adapted by Terry Tidwell). Each adaptation starts with a two-page spread and each "chapter" after that was a single page, released on a monthly basis.
  • "Everybody Laughs" Ending: The last panel of the Norby, the Mixed-Up Robot adaptation has everyone in the scene laughing at Norby for programming the Auto-Kitchen to work "like poetry", causing it to produce printed verse instead of food.
  • Faceless Goons: The Ing henchmen who assaulted the Wells brothers in the park didn't cover their faces much, but the ones in uniforms have helmets with visors that obscure everything except the lower half of their faces.
  • Four-Fingered Hands: The human characters are drawn with normal five-fingered hands, but Norby only has four fingers on each hand.
  • Kirby Dots: In the Norby's Other Secret adaptation, black dots around Norby, showing that he's using his hyperspace teleportation, start showing up in chapter six. Anyone inside the "sphere" of bubbles is taken along with him.
  • Ludicrous Precision: In the original Norby, the Mixed-Up Robot, while Jeff and Norby are in Albany's police car, Jeff estimates that they're thirty stories up in the air. In this comic, Norby declares that they're exactly thirty stories in the air. The added precision is unnecessary, as the characters are worried about falling. Being off by one or two stories isn't going to matter much.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: When Jeff tells Norby, "Bombs Away!", Norby drops fist-sized missiles from a bomb bay in his barrel. The missiles explode on the ground around the henchmen, as well as in the air above Norby and Jeff.
  • One-Word Title: Most of the comics in Boys Life appear as one word entries in the Table of Contents. The chapters themselves use the name of the original book.
  • Opaque Nerd Glasses: The only characters drawn with glasses in the adaptation of Norby, the Mixed-Up Robot have just the white lenses instead of pupils or irises. For extra nerd points, they're all bird-watchers, too.
  • Phlegmings: In the last panel of chapter twelve in the Norby, the Mixed-Up Robot adaptation, Zi's mouth is watering as she says Jeff and Norby are unwelcome aliens. Combined with Jeff's speculation that the baby's mother would eat him and Norby, the page ends with the implication that the two are about to be snacks.
  • Pictorial Speech-Bubble: In panel seven of chapter nine of the Norby, the Mixed-Up Robot adaptation, Fargo has a red question mark inside his speech bubble as the other protagonists move over to touch him.
  • Skintone Sclerae: The characters' eyes shift from tiny black dots with skin-coloured sclerae to black dots with white sclera when the characters are closer, to fully-coloured irises when closest to the "camera". This is minimized in the second adaptation, which tries to preserve eye details even at a distance, but isn’t entirely absent.
  • Speech Bubbles: The backgrounds of the bubbles in this series switch between white and yellow to help them stand out against the background, which also tends to switch between those two colours (other colours, too, but predominantly white and yellow).
  • Sudden Eye Colour: The characters' eyes shift from tiny black dots with skin-coloured sclerae to black dots with white sclera when the characters are closer, to fully-coloured irises when closest to the "camera". Because of the way that the second adaptation tries to preserve eye details, the constant shifting between showing and not showing irises is absent there.
  • Technicolor Eyes: In the Norby's Other Secret adaptation, the Jamyn dragons are given red sclerae and slitted pupils to make them appear fearsome.
  • Unreliable Illustrator:
    • In the adaptation of Norby, the Mixed-Up Robot, the titular character is drawn with a bright red body, only two eyes, and a mouth. Jeff is drawn to be shorter than most adults. However, the books are clear that Norby is actually silver in colour, has two eyes both forward and back, and has no mouth, while Jeff is over six feet and therefore taller than most adults.
    • In the original book, when Jeff says "Bombs away!", he refers to himself and Norby physically falling onto Ing's henchmen. In this comic, Norby is able to release a Macross Missile Massacre against them.
  • Unsound Effect: In panel three of chapter thirteen of the Norby, the Mixed-Up Robot adaptation, when Zi bites Jeff, it is rendered with a NIP! sound effect.
  • Written Sound Effect: While the comic doesn't use sound effects often, Norby's hyperspace teleportation is given the sound effect ZTT or ZZT and his punches are written with a WAP.
  • Youthful Freckles: Jeff, a fourteen-year-old Space Cadet, is given a freckled nose and cheeks for the Norby, the Mixed-Up Robot adaptation, but they’re gone for the second adaptation.

Alternative Title(s): The Norby Chronicles