Currently reading a graphic novel! Marvel adaptation of Sense & Sensibility

Although Sense & Sensibility as a Marvel comic came out on November 17, 2010, I do not darken the doorways of comic book stores and only learned about it in April 2011 from an LJC blog entry. I tremulously entered a comic book store one day and saw there were Female Force comics of Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, and Martha Stewart, to name a few, and no Jane Austen. It was much more comfortable to surf the bookstore from home!

I decided upon Sense & Sensibility because I do not have any edition of that novel and have never read it in any form, although I have watched the Ang Lee film version several times. I don’t own Pride & Prejudice either but that comic is a touch older, and I just didn’t like the tabloid-style cover. Emma, whom we all know and love, is not available as a complete volume until September this year. It seems that each novel is first released in about five episodes and they might have paper covers for all I know; but the online bookstores are carrying the complete novel, which is the format I prefer.

In the Introduction, adapter Nancy Butler writes that Sense & Sensibility is arguably the most complex of Austen’s stories. In addition to the complex story of courtship and manners of that time, it is also the story of the love between sisters who are complete opposites in character. Sense & Sensibility is illustrated by Sonny Liew–there is a different illustrator for each Austen story Butler has adapted, for some reason–and am I glad because Liew illustrates the characters in most adorable¬†chibi style, where the characters are “super deformed” with oversized heads.

I’d have to admit it look me a moment to adjust to reading non-linearly, which might be the charm of reading graphic novels; it’s been so long since I’ve read an Archie comic! Sometimes I didn’t know in which direction to read, either the panel flow or even speech bubble flow when two people are having a conversation in one panel.

NPY is no stranger to the graphic novelization of non-superhero stories (boys) and wondered what I get out of the Butler/Liew adaptation which invited a short spiel. I can appreciate that the adaptation of a novel so dense and heavy on dialogue needed to be carefully re-formatted to flow as a graphic novel is expected to be. I can just imagine the intricate storyboards that they had to go through to present story and illustration succinctly, accurately, and memorably.

The above page had some wonderful examples of illustration propelling forward the story. In the very first panel John Dashwood, stingy half-brother to the Dashwood sisters Elinor and Marianne, blathers his pleasure the sisters are settled comfortably without his aid. He is in a drawing room with other people but they are not shown in the first panel because his empty words do not mean anything to them. In the bottom left panel, John and Elinor walk through town while he oh-so-casually, with his eyes carefully watching Elinor, tries to get some gossip about very good marriage prospects for the sisters; Elinor, respectful sister, walks a step behind, head bowed, but also trying to answer him diplomatically and discreetly. Elinor is illustrated differently from every other female character with a thin face and high forehead not adorned with bangs–she stands out amongst the ladies, the epitome of sense, even more severe than her mother. Finally, the impact of illustration fitting Jane Austen writing really hit me in the second last panel with a classic silhouette and three linked speech bubbles with quite a bit of text each. John Dashwood is that pompous character we come to expect in Austen novels, talking at length with exaggerated modesty but the irony is the reader and Elinor can see through it all. It was all a great deal of fun to read!

On this day..