Friday, July 20, 2012

Review: Pride and Prejudice -- The Graphic Novel

Pride and Prejudice, adapted from the novel by Jane Austen
By: Nancy Butler and Hugo Petrus
Publisher: Marvel
ISBN: 978-0-7851-3916-4

About the book:

Tailored from the adored Jane Austen classic, Marvel Comics is proud to present an adaptation of the whimsical tale of Lizzy Bennet and her loveable-if-eccentric family, as they navigate through tricky British social circles. Will Lizzy's father manage to marry off his five daughters, despite his wife's incessant nagging? And will Lizzy's beautiful sister Jane marry the handsome, wealthy Mr. Bingley? Or will his brooding friend Mr. Darcy stand between their happiness?

One of the most acclaimed novels in English literature has endured since its release in 1813 and is adapted as a graphic novel for the first time, collecting all five installments from two-time RITA award-winner Nancy Butler and fan-favorite Hugo Petrus.


So this is what happens when you're sick and off work for a week -- you pull out that graphic novel edition of Pride and Prejudice that you've been meaning to read for ages and finally dive in. Pride and Prejudice was the first Austen novel adapted for the Marvel Illustrated line -- comic-book versions of timeless literary classics. As with any adaptation of Austen's work, it is bound to face criticism for plot condension and the losss of pages upon pages of Austen's signature witty, insightful prose. But for a 120-page or so graphic novel, this volume does a creditable job of translating the essence of Lizzy and Darcy's story to the page.

Adapted by author Nancy Butler, the text does a surprisingly decent job of remaining faithful to its 19th-century origins. She keeps the action moving at a brisk pace, and while events are often shortened or tweaked to fit the graphic novel format, all of the plot's most famous scenes get their due. From Darcy's famous put-down at the Meryton assembly to his subsequent first (refused) proposal to Lizzy's first view of Pemberly, all key moments are brought to life with relative faithfulness to the original text.

I have mixed feelings abut illustrator Hugo Petrus's interpretation of Austen's classic tale. There are to be sure some gorgeously-rendered panels within these pages, and he has a nice eye for period detail. But the color palette is a bit darker than I'd prefer for Austen's brand of frothy social commentary. And many of the characters are blessed with such similar looks that it is difficult to tell them apart, particulary the bee-stung lipped younger Bennet sisters. However I enjoyed his realizations of Darcy, Mr. Bennet, Lady Catherine, and Lizzy in particular, though the latter suffers occasionally from some incredibly awkward facial expressions that detract from the emotin of key moments.

A pleasant way in which to while away an afternoon, this edition of Pride and Prejudice mostly hits all the right notes and could serve a a fresh way to introduce Austen to new readers.

Sample panel:


Heidenkind said...

I hate it in graphic novels when all the characters look similar. And these characters look like something out of a 1970s movie. A bad one.

Unknown said...

@Tasha B. - Ha! You're right! I don't mind the art in certain panels, but overall that is what brought my rating of this book down -- the textual adaptation is fairly decent.

Jennifer said...

Hm... I don't know if I could handle it. :) But graphic novels are pretty interesting.

Kristin said...

I haven't read this one yet, but I did buy the Sense and Sensibility graphic novel (P&P is my favorite Austen novel, but I liked the style of artwork in the S&S better so I bought that one instead). I liked it pretty well, though the three leading men looked so similar I had a hard time telling them apart! I'm not into graphic novels...I bought it mostly because of my Austen obsession. :)


Unknown said...

@Jennifer - This was a nice little change of pace for me. :)

@Kristin - P&P is my favorite Austen novel as well, so I'm a bit disappointed with some of the artwork here. I LOVED the S&S graphic novel though -- I wish Butler had been able to work with Liew on all three of the ones she's done thus far.

The Insouciant Sophisticate said...

I own this but I've only skimmed the artwork and story so I don't know what changes had to be made for the format. I think it's just a cool thing to have as an Austen fan and I should really give it a read sooner rather than later.

Unknown said...

@Bookworm1858 - Oh I agree, artwork preferences aside I think these are super cool to own as a fan of Austen's work! Hope you enjoy!