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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Pride and Prejudice: the graphic novel

Pride and Prejudice: the graphic novelNancy Butler

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife... Tailored from the adored Jane Austen classic, Marvel Comics is proud to present Pride & Prejudice! Two-time Rita Award-Winner Nancy Butler and fan-favorite Hugo Petras faithfully adapt 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 her 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? 

Fun game: guess which one's Lydia...
Hmm.  What to say about this one.  There were parts I liked, but the feeling overall is pretty lackluster. It's cute at times, but inconsistent at best.  The illustrations (color!  I'm so happy when something has color illustrations, unless the black and white is done really well), were really rich and vibrant, and 1/2 of the time, perfectly lovely.  But - and I don't know if this is sloppiness or what - things would be going along fine and then BAM! someone who had looked completely normal would suddenly be kinda hideous. Though to be fair, it wasn't always inconsistent; some of the characters were always hideous.
Mrs Bennet looks like Divine from Hairspray (ie a man in a dress), and on that same note, Lady Catherine kinda looks like a tranny granny.  Col Fitzwilliam was just flat out ugly (and fat).  I didn't always get the decisions.  I mean, Mr Bennet fell in lust with Mrs B because she was beautiful, and Jane finds Col Fitz at least some what alluring, so why not have this reflected?  Regardless of the decision making process behind it, I just didn't get why some panels could be beautifully expressive (Fig 1) and some would just be...*shudder* (Fig 2).

Fig 1: Beautifully expressive

Fig 2: Divine and Tranny Granny

Collins proposal to Lizzie.
Note: Collins sorta looks like
a cross between Tom Hanks and
the guy who plays Golum...
There's not an over-abundance of dialogue or text, and what is there tends to be straight from Austen.  Butler used a lot of  lines from the book and generally used them well.  It was essentially a bullet list of the best/famous quotes.  But sometimes the lines would be misattributed (I can only assume intentionally, and I'm sure there was a reason, but it irked me) and sometimes they would be changed for whatever reason (to condense the line, to make it catchier, I really don't know) and it would alter the meaning, which annoyed me.  There's a fine line between condensing so it fits and changing the context in the process.

And that's really all I have to say.  There were some...odd things that happened in some of the panels that I questioned, and the forward from Butler about how this graphic novel was getting people to read P&P left me feeling a little odd.   I mean, yes, it is familiarizing them with the story, and opening up the realm of "girly" classical lit to guys and reluctant readers, but if you're changing the story...Well, it's not like you can read this and say "Sure, I've read Pride and Prejudice" because the fact is, you haven't.  You've read the Joe Blow bubblegum comic version.

Other points of interest:
Lizzie was very expressive (which was nice), but sometimes laughably modern. 
Talk to the hand.

Best thing about this series of comics: they have fantastic covers with Cosmo-like blurbs.  
My fave - What to Think When He Thinks You're Thinking.

Click to be taken to Main Page & Schedule


  1. These are so clever. I have seen this one and the one for Sense and Sensibility as well, but not actually read through them at length. I did not realize they were so detailed and well drawn! Very nice.

  2. I was dazzled by the art! My mind didn't even think about the other stuff. Now I want to reread it to see these flaws! Great review!

  3. Looks like an amusing book. I got the first issue in the S&S comic series at BEA last year, and I thought it was very well done.

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