Graphic Novel Adaptation of H. G. Wells Story Coming This Summer

MILTON, ON, January 7, 2022 – The latest addition to the catalogue of Ontario-based publisher Brain Lag is a tale over a century old, adapted into a graphic novel for the first time.

In 1899, H. G. Wells followed up The War of the Worlds with the publication of his seventh novel, When the Sleeper Wakes. This dystopian steampunk story introduced the idea of compounding interest making a person rich over the course of centuries, woven together with a tale of autocracy and rebellion as a lone man struggles to navigate a strange future world.

Graham is a radical activist at the turn of the 20th century in London. At least, he is until he enters a drug-induced coma. When he awakes, he's shocked to discover that over eight hundred years have passed, and his accrued fortune is the cornerstone of the global economy. In a world of towering skyscrapers, giant "Babble Machines" spouting propaganda at every corner, and skies filled with monoplanes and dirigibles, Graham is a symbol to both upper and lower classes.

To the ruling White Council, "the Sleeper" was a sign of their power, and awake, he is either a pawn or a liability. To the masses, he is their hidden ally or one of the leaders who keep the people subjugated and impoverished. Rebellion is the only solution, but the leaders of the revolt have their own agenda. With threats lurking in every direction, Graham must choose how to use his newfound power while navigating his strange new world.

This graphic novel adaptation of the 1899 H. G. Wells story is more topical than ever, exploring themes of classism, the rise of technology and global finance, media being used to control and subdue the populace, and more. Wells’ 19th century speculations have become startling commentary on the world of the 21st.

A successful launch


After years of planning, Toronto science fiction author Hugh A. D. Spencer launched a crowdfunding campaign in September 2021 to fund the production of the graphic novel. In November, it surpassed its fundraising goal and work on the art immediately began. Early backers of the project received rewards of prints of concept art, other books by Spencer, personal greetings from the project creators, and forthcoming copies of the finished book.

The creative team bringing new life to a classic

When the Sleeper Wakes is being adapted to graphic novel primarily by three people:

Hugh A. D. Spencer wrote the script for the graphic novel. Spencer completed graduate studies at the University of Toronto and McMaster University where he conducted anthropological studies into the origins of religious movements in science fiction fandom. Spencer is also President and Senior Consultant of the cultural consulting company Museum Planning Partners. He worked on the Ontario Prehistory and Canadian Ethnology galleries at the Royal Ontario Museum and has traveled to Asia, Europe, Australia and throughout North America on assignment for many different museum, art gallery, science centre and world’s fair projects. Even with all this travel, he is always happy to return to his home in the aging suburbs of Toronto which he shares with his family, friends and two dogs. Spencer is the author of five other books, including his latest novel, The Hard Side of the Moon, and second short story collection, The Progressive Apparatus and More Fantasticals.

Will O’Brien will be creating the art for the book. O’Brien is a fantasy illustrator working in the gaming industry. His list of clients includes Paizo Publishing (Pathfinder RPG), Kobold Press & Onyx Path Publishing, among others. He holds a gallery of his work on deviantART. He lives in Cardston, Alberta, Canada with his wife and five children.

Catherine Fitzsimmons is the owner of Brain Lag, the publisher of the book. Fitzsimmons created Brain Lag in 2010 and welcomed Spencer, its first outside author, in 2013 with the publication of his first novel, Extreme Dentistry. She has published twenty-nine books by fifteen authors, with twelve more books coming in 2022. Fitzsimmons is also the author of five novels. She lives in Milton, Ontario with her husband, daughter, and two crazy tabbies.

Upcoming release

The graphic novel will be released June 10, 2022, with cover art to be revealed July 1. The book is anticipated to be around 100 pages long and will include information and commentary from Wellsian scholars about the original book. It will be available in trade paperback (ISBN 978-1-928011-73-6, MSRP $19.99 USD) and ebook (ISBN 978-1-928011-74-3, MSRP $9.99) formats to order in bookstores everywhere. Media inquiries and requests to contact the author or artist can be directed to publishing@brain-lag.com.

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