Pride and Prejudice – graphic novel edition

9 Feb
Graphic novels, how do I love thee? I’ve heard some doubts from some friends of mine who are prolific readers about whether or not they’re compatible with graphic novels. I think a lot of people don’t know what to do with graphic novels – is it a book? Is it a comic? How am I supposed to follow the story when my eye is jumping around trying to find the text? The thing is, you need to relax into a graphic novel. Just let it flow over you. You’re meant to let your eye wander; don’t think too hard about it or it becomes laborious. The author wants you to be able to follow the story, and they won’t make it impossible for you to find your place.

If you grew up on comics like I did, reading graphic novels comes easily. I love the way the author and illustrator (sometimes the same person) work together, using the graphics to illuminate the text. Even the way the text appears can be bent and twisted to add to the reader’s experience – different fonts, sizes, and effects communicate the feelings behind the words. And I think the emotional part of me is attracted to the outsized proportions of the stories as well. Graphic novels are a bit of an exaggerated art form, I think – in order to communicate character, plot, and atmosphere with remarkably less words, the story can get a little more direct and to the point than a longer, regular novel would. Or at least that’s the kind of graphic novel and comic I’ve been attracted to!

Ooh, pretty alternate cover!

I found a good example of this phenomenon while reading Marvel’s graphic novel adaptation of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Nancy Butler, a romance novelist, and artist Hugo Petrus adapted this most perfect of novels into an adorable and witty experience for the eyes. Marvel has published a string of adapted classics in graphic novel format, from The Iliad to Moby Dick. The cover is just the best – it’s made to look a bit like a women’s magazine cover, with blurbs like “How to Cure Your Boy-Crazy Sisters” and “Lizzy on Love, Loss, and Living”. Cute, right? The story is a bit truncated, as it must be in this format, but Butler does a slam-bang job at getting all the nuts and bolts in there.

Petrus’ depiction of all of our favorite characters was fun to explore. Lizzy definitely looked how I pictured her – brunette and beautiful, but not as classically gorgeous as Jane, who is simply stunning. Check out the image above for an example of how the sisters were depicted. And Darcy, oh Darcy. Me like. Sometimes I would be jarred out of the story if a character deviated too much from my preconceived notions (Bingley is a little “ew” for me), but it was so much fun to experience the story in a different medium. And not to get all preachy, but wouldn’t this be a great option to get some reluctant younger readers to realize how exciting reading can be?

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2 Responses to “Pride and Prejudice – graphic novel edition”

  1. Rebecca February 10, 2012 at 7:14 am #

    I’m totally the doubtful novel reader who has a hard time transitioning to graphic novels! I keep meaning to give them a try, but then I see the price point, and I head toward the nearest paperbacks. I should check with my local used bookstore and see if I can find a good one to start with, because this does sound nice.

    I have an unrelated question for you. I’m writing a novel about a character who can’t travel, but she loves to read travel memoirs and travel books. I, however, never read this genre, so I don’t know which ones would be good. I think you said you read this genre occasionally. Can you recommend any for my fictitious character to read? (And isn’t that a bizarre request!) 🙂

    • Amanda February 10, 2012 at 4:47 pm #

      I thought of you too while writing it! I’d definitely go used or the library for the first time if you’re not sure you’d like it. Just think of how little the commitment is: you can whip through a graphic novel in a quarter of the time it takes to read a book.

      I can definitely recommend some travel memoirs! I’ll email you. 🙂

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