Monday, May 23, 2011

New Graphic Novels from Charlaine Harris & Patricia Briggs

by Megan S.

The cover for the original Moon Called.

I learned to read on Archie Comic Books after my first grade teacher gave up trying to teach me when I had difficulty with the task in school.  She actually told my mother, "Megan will never ever learn to read."   (Was it karma when the monkey hit her square in the face with a fresh pile of monkey poop during our field trip to the zoo?  Probably. ) So my mom took up the job at home.  Mom introduced me to Archie and the gang, told me my cat liked it when I read to her, had me sound out the words, and I've been devouring books ever since.

I have a special place in my heart for comic books (and several boxes of now vintage Archies in the basement) but I haven't actually liked reading them since I was 14 or so.  I was always frustrated with the delivery system.  You get a taste of a story and then it's cruelly ripped away from you with promises of another taste next month.  I wanted more.

Dramatization of my relationship with comic book publishers.

So, I was excited when I came across Dynamite Entertainment's adaptations of two popular urban fantasy books, the first from Patricia Brigg's Mercy Thompson series, Moon Called, and the soon-to-be published graphic novel version of Sookie Stackhouse author Charlaine Harris's, Grave Sight. It was a chance to enjoy comic books again.

Adaptations can be tricky.  What works in one medium, like a novel, doesn't necessarily translate easily to another, like a movie screen or a comic book.  It's difficult to tell the same exact story the same exact way and have it actually be entertaining.  Thoughts running through a character's head make for really boring exposition in visual mediums.  What's important, is capturing the same spirit of the tale when adapting a novel.  Then, you can actually improve on the work, using visuals to add another layer to the story-telling. 

One of Moon Called's covers.
The universe created by the original author can be a wellspring of ideas for an artist.  This is definitely true for the Mercy Thomspon novels.  I was eager to see what writer David Lawrence and illustrator Amelia Woo did with the book.  Along with all the Native American imagery that could be a running visual theme, I was hoping for hints of traditional artwork from Mercy's tattoos that play such a big part in the original novel's cover art.  Boy, was I disappointed.

Moon Called is a bare bones graphic novel about mechanic Mercy Thompson, a woman with the ability to transform in to a coyote and her place as an outsider in the werewolf world.  It's burdened with mostly exposition.  The artwork is run of the mill with almost featureless backgrounds and little to no reference to how characters are described in the original work.  Mercy is WASPy as can be with no signs of her half Native-American ancestry, not even close to the passing nod featured on the graphic novel's cover (by which I mean having black hair.  It's light brown inside the cover.)  All of the male characters look like one another except for varying shades of hair color.  Bran, the werewolf leader always described as looking like an average young human, was drawn as studly as the rest.  The spirit of the novel was absent, too.  Light-hearted Mercy, one of the main reasons I enjoy the series, was gone.  I am happy to offer the one positive I noted as the story went on, the basic artwork, the features of the characters, did improve in later chapters.

Grave Sight couldn't be more different than Moon Called.  The graphic novel, written by William Harms and illustrated by Denis Merdi, was so much better at telling the story of Harper Conelly, a woman saddled with the ability to find corpses and relay how they died.  The artwork even provided visual hints to plot lines that will be divulged in the second book and gave insight into the horrifying day to day experiences of Harper.  This version of Grave Sight wasn't a strict interpretation of the book and that may be what made it so successful.  While it was only half as long as Moon Called's 120 something pages, it definitely offered a satisfying chunk of the story.

Grave Sight will be out in two weeks on June 7 and Moon Called is in stores now.  I recommend picking up Grave Sight if you're a fan of comic books or of Charlaine Harris's work.
Pin It

No comments:

Post a Comment