TEAM YANKEE: The Graphic Novel adapted by David Drake from the novel by Harold Coyle
Harold Coyle, a serving armor officer, wrote the novel Team Yankee, about an armored combat team in World War III, which became a hardcover bestseller in 1987. Berkley bought the paperback rights and decided to team with First Comics (then a major independent) to do a graphic novel adaptation of the book as promotion for the paperback release.
My editor at Putnam-Berkley was Beth Fleisher, wife of Chris Claremont, a giant in the comics field who among other things scripted X-Men. Beth, knowing that I'd been with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment in Nam, called me and asked if I'd like to script the Team Yankee graphic novel. I agreed with misgivings, because I'd never before worked in comics. I hadn't even read comics much since the early '50s.
It was a very interesting process. I had a lot to learn about scripting, but the editor at First Comics was very helpful and the artist, Rod Whigham, was a seasoned pro.
One of the most important lessons I learned was that although I'm frequently described as a visual writer, a graphic artist has a better visual understanding than I do by an order of magnitude. I did panel by panel breakdowns in my script. Not infrequently Rod would change the layout--and he was invariably correct.
Lt Coyle (I believe that was his rank at the time he wrote Team Yankee) was a trained armor officer; all I had was six months of on-the-job-training at a very low level with an armored regiment. He knew many, many things about the business that I didn't.
But he'd never been in a war zone; that was really clear to me from reading his novel. A reader who compares the prose and graphic version will find that the latter has some of what I learned the hard way in Southeast Asia.