I should acknowledge right up front that I am totally new to graphic novels. As a person who was never interested in comics even as a child, I really had no desire to explore the genre of graphic books at all. But one day while I was wandering in the library, I stumbled across a few graphic versions of classic novels. I was intrigued and picked up a few to look through. I thought I would start with one of my very favorite books: Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.
The Marvel graphic novel version of Pride and Prejudice has a wonderfully clever cover. Mimicking teen-fashion magazines, it advertises themes like "Bingleys Bring Bling to Britain" and "How to CURE your BOY-CRAZY SISTERS!" The art throughout is appealing (although quite often I was bothered by portrayals of women who seemed to be wearing 1980s makeup) and the language of the text sticks to the spirit of Austen's language.
Believing that girls often stand outside chatting when their male friends enter the comics shop, the writer-adapter of this GN, Nancy Butler, believed that a "girl book" could encourage more girls to read graphic novels. I don't particularly care whether or not girls start reading more graphic novels, honestly. What I do care about is whether or not they come to experience true Jane Austen books. Butler believes the Marvel adaptation can do exactly that. She argues that young readers will be introduced to the characters and might "be tempted to investigate the actual book." I have my doubts about their ability to enjoy the Austen novel if their expectations are shaped by this light read.
But Butler's next argument, that adult readers who already love the novel might enjoy revisiting "their favorite characters in a graphic format" is undoubtedly true. While I would prefer to reread the book, flipping through the graphic novel was a quick, enjoyable way to relive favorite moments. In some ways it felt like watching a BBC adaptation--although the graphic novel adds the humor of playing an old classic off a modern art form. Austen and other classic authors seem to respond beautifully to this kind of adventuresome play--as the success of the Classics-Zombies books also shows. As Butler (who has also has also produced a Marvel version of Sense and Sensibility) says, "You don't update a classic; you give it free rein."
Although I'm intrigued with the idea, the concept of seeing my favorite books turned into graphic novels or comic strips really doesn't appeal to me in the end. What do you think? Do you have any favorite GN classics to recommend?