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