#98 A Review of Emma (Graphic Novel) by Nancy Butler, Illustrated by Janet Lee

What do you get when you combine one of Jane Austen’s classic works with the minds behind Marvel Comics?  Why, a graphic novel series of course.  Nancy Butler has turned three of Austen’s works into graphic novel format thus far: Sense and Sensibility (which I’ve reviewed here), Pride and Prejudice, and now Emma.  As the newest release, Emma intrigued me because I’ve already enjoyed one of Butler’s works, and figured that combining two of my great literary interests (Austen and to a lesser extent, graphic novels) would be a lot of fun.  Butler tells the tale of Emma, Knightly, Jane Fairfax, and all of Austen’s other beloved characters with as much enthusiasm and truth as the original work.  Adding a new dimension with the incorporation of the graphic novel format, Butler relays the tale of Emma and her belief that she is always correct in all things despite her limited worldview.  It is not until the proposal of Mr. Knightly that brings her back to reality that she realizes how wrong she has been the entire time.

Being a graphic novel, obviously the most important part of keeping and capturing your audience would be the illustrations.  With that being said, each of the three Austen graphic novels I’ve read have had a different illustrator so far.  The illustrations in Pride and Prejudice led to very “porn-like” characters and didn’t match the original descriptions of the characters at all.  Sense and Sensibility was much better, with tasteful illustrations that matched the time period.  Emma, on the other hand, had very child-like illustrations that seemed out-of-place.  It became difficult at times to discern characters due to similar illustrations.  What I found interesting was the attention to detail spent on the wallpapers, designs on women’s dresses, and scenery, while so little was spent on making sure each character was distinguishable.  Every character seemed to have similar facial structures and hair.  On the other hand, the adaptation of the text was done quite well.  Butler has done a great job making sure that the bulk of the story is told, and the important bits of dialogue make it over to the graphic novel adaptation.  I’m sure a lot of people would think that Austen’s work would be diminished by being imported into a graphic novel format, but I think the illustrations can actually aid in telling the story.  People that don’t have the time to pick up Austen’s novels and read them may find it easier to get that Austen “fix” by reading these graphic novel formats.  In all, I enjoyed Butler’s adaptation of this timeless classic, as well at her other works in this format so far.  Although the illustrations needed definite work, certain parts were done quite well.  I can’t wait to see what’s next in this series!

3 out of 5 Stars

Emma by Jane Austen, Nancy Butler, and Janet Lee
Marvel Enterprises (2012)
Paperback: 120 pages
ISBN: 9780785156864

The Weekly Roundup – Week 5

So I’d like to start my weekly roundup this week with the hope that everyone had a great holiday!

Belle and Sebastian (Our cats)

Last Wednesday I did a mini-happy hour with some friends from work.  Our offices were closed on Thursday and Friday so it was just a little way to start the holiday for us.  After we hung out for a bit Todd and I headed off to Home Depot to go pick out our Christmas tree.  Todd and I do fake trees because of the cats.  We had a small little apartment tree the past two years, but have out grown it now.  With our new tree in hand we headed home to get it set up and into its base.  With that all settled I began packing for our overnight trip to Jersey. 

Thursday morning we got up and watched a majority of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade while getting ready.  We hopped in the car and started the trek down to Jersey.  We hit major traffic on the Garden State Parkway but we got to Todd’s parents house with time to spare!  After a short respite from all the traveling we hopped in the car again, this time to Todd’s Aunt and Uncle’s house.  We had a fantastic Thanksgiving dinner with them and got back to Todd’s parents around 11pm.  Todd’s little cousin Sarah (who is the most adorable thing ever) kept us busy the whole trip, so as soon as we got back it was straight to bed.

Our Christmas Tree

Friday morning we headed up to my parents house (half hour away from Todd’s parents) to help them decorate a bit for Christmas.  We had lunch with my best friend Stephen and then continued with the decorating.  We had a Thanksgiving buffet for dinner with my parents, Grandma, and Aunt Barbara, and then it was back up to Connecticut.  Todd and I made it back to our apartment around 6pm and started getting all of our own Christmas stuff out.  I started blasting the holiday CD’s and decorating our tree.  Adam came over and we had some eggnog and got in the spirit. 

Christine and Me

Saturday was a great day as my sister Christine and her fiancée Jason stopped by on their way down from Cape Cod.  (They live in Manhattan but went up to the Cape to spend the holiday with Jason’s family)  So over they came for lunch with their two dogs Ethan and Chelsea. It’s always hysterical to see the dogs and cats react with each other.  Sebastian tries to act all brave, but as soon as a dog gets near him he freaks out!  We all just hung out, had lunch, and randomly watched the end of Flashdance.  (It was on TV, don’t ask)  Todd and I also watched Brothers later on in the day. WHOA good movie.  I highly recommend it!

On Sunday Todd and I drove to Providence to see Jen, another of our really good friends.  We hung out and got lunch together had bubble teas, and walked around for a bit before heading to the largest liquor store I’ve ever seen.  As most of you know from Todd’s posts he is a HUGE beer fan. This liquor store had almost half  the store dedicated to just beer.  You could mix and match tons of beers from small breweries across the country.  We picked a bunch of beers and loaded the car up.  We headed back and made it home by 6.  It’s only been two days and I think I drank all the beers I picked out.  Todd can tell you more about them in his post, but I’m already counting the days to see when we can head back to that liquor store!

Somehow in the midst of everything that has gone on in the past few days I’ve managed to read three graphic novels.  I was definitely on a graphic novel kick this week.  Sense and Sensibility, The Walking Dead Volume 1, and Anne Frank: The Anne Frank House Authorized Graphic Biography. I owe you all a review on the last one. 

With December here it’s time to kick into an even higher gear. (I didn’t know I had any more to kick into)  I’ve read 80 books, leaving 20 for December.  I looked back at my totals and realized I had read 12 for the month of November.  I will absolutely die if I make it to 92 books and fail my challenge by 8 books.  If anyone has recommendations for short fast reads let me know.  I’m in the middle of two books right now (Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs and Fifth Avenue 5AM) and am really hoping to complete them in the next day or two. 

Totals: 80 books read, 20 to go.  Here I go.

Happy Reading!

#78 A Review of Sense and Sensibility (Graphic Novel) by Nancy Butler and Sonny Liew

Sense & SensibilitySense and Sensibility is a classic story of family, friendship, heartache, love, grief, and sisterly bonds.  This brilliant rendition of Sense and Sensibility turned graphic novel brings Jane Austen’s vibrant words to life through incredible illustrations.

I was very nervous at first about picking up the graphic novel version of Sense and Sensibility because of my thoughts on the Pride and Prejudice graphic novel. (Both are produced by Marvel comics)  I thought that the artist’s rendition of the Pride and Prejudice version was just completely off.  All of the women, to put it frankly, looked like porn stars.  The writing done by Nancy Butler stayed fairly close to the original work, giving it points in my book.   What sold me on the Sense and Sensibility version was a new artist, Sonny Liew. 

Liew’s illustrations are exactly what I pictured Sense and Sensibility looking like.  The clothing looked like the proper pieces women of that time would wear, Norland Park, Barton Park, and the cottage all fit the images that Austen herself created.  The one negative I had with the illustrations was how Elinor was drawn.  Elinor was often shown with an extreme receding hairline, making her seem bald most of the time.

Nancy Butler stayed fairly true to Austen’s original work, adding and subtracting here and there.  As she states in her introduction to the graphic novel,

“while re-reading the book, I realized I was in for some rough going.  Austen had originally written Elinor and Marianne as an epistolary novel, in the form of letters.  Although she eventually changed the format, many key scenes are still conveyed through narrative rather than dialogue.  Not the optimum source material for a graphic novel, let me tell you.  So I hope readers will forgive me for taking some liberties – in the creation of speeches where none existed and the fleshing out of scenes Austen merely hints at in the book…”

Butler does a great job fleshing out those scenes that Austen hints at, and makes sure the important stuff gets into the graphic novel.  I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked this rendition, after Marvel’s Pride and Prejudice debacle.

Marvel has recently announced that a graphic novel version of Emma will be released in the spring.  Marvel has also turned other classic novels into graphic novels: The Wizard of Oz, The Last of the Mohicans, The Three Musketeers, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Treasure Island, The Man in the Iron Mask, The Iliad, The Odyssey, etc.   

I definitely recommend those who are iffy about graphic novels to give them a try. I was introduced to graphic novels in college when I had two as textbooks for a Holocaust history course I took.  I was hesitant at first with how such heavy subject matter would be conveyed via a comic-like interpretation but was blown away. While they aren’t for everyone they certainly can breathe new life into the classics that you love.  This rendition of Sense and Sensibility is a perfect example of that breath of fresh air.

4 out of 5 Stars