This is today on the B&N Romance Blog ~ Marisa O’Neill posts her interview with the Marvel Comics / Jane Austen adaptations writer Nancy Butler:
Marisa O’Neill: What gave you the idea to create graphic books from the Jane Austen classics?
Nancy Butler: I’ve been friends with Marvel senior editor Ralph Macchio for many years. Since we first met, I’ve been nagging him to create comics that would bring in more female readers. Whenever he described the Marvel Illustrated line, he kept bringing up “boy” books . . . Treasure Island, Moby-Dick, Three Musketeers, etc. I finally asked him why they didn’t do something that would appeal to female readers. “Like what?” he asked. Pride and Prejudice immediately popped into my head. He was a bit skeptical, but when he pitched it to marketing, they bit. And then they asked him if he knew someone who could write the adaptation. Ralph knew my background writing Regency romances, knew I had a fan following and contacts in the Austen world, so he suggested me.
MO: Why Pride and Prejudice?
NB: I pointed out to Ralph that between the enduring BBC series with Colin Firth, the Bridget Jones movies, and the Kiera Knightly movie, P&P was hot, hot, hot. He thought I was exaggerating, but before the hardcover compilation was even available for sale, the Jane Austen Society had ordered enough copies to put the project in the black. The sales manager also reported that they were getting more emails about that comic than almost any other title on their list. Ultimately, P&P was reviewed in Entertainment Weekly, spent 13 weeks on the NY Times Graphic Novel bestseller list, and was the featured photo in an article on graphic adaptations in Publisher’s Weekly. I was also interviewed by Vanetta Rogers of Newsarama and by Bill Radford, the comics guru at the Colorado Springs Gazette. (Bill told me his column on P&P was among the most shared for 2009.) Naturally, after all this attention, Marvel was eager to do another Austen title and they chose Sense and Sensiblilty.
MO: How do you go about condensing each book to fit into the installments?
NB: This is the tricky part. First of all, I had never done an adaptation before. And I had to learn the Marvel style—which involves creating a detailed plot and then writing a script after the art is done. I knew I couldn’t condense every part of these complex novels into five 22-page comics. So I focused on the parts I knew people expected to see . . . all the favorite “beats”—the clever exchanges, the arguments, the catty comments, the heartfelt revelations. Once I built that basic framework of “must have” scenes, I filled in directly from Austen to flesh out the stories. Whenever possible, I use Austen’s dialogue and observations. I’m always amazed—after each issue is completed—by how much I was actually able to fit in there! My great hope is that readers don’t find the comics either crowded or choppy.
MO: Did you work closely with the graphic artist?
NB: Yes, it’s critical to have good communication with the artists, especially since they weren’t as familiar with the Regency era as I was. I worked with Hugo Petrus of Barcelona on P&P. Hugo has a very traditional comic style that some felt was wrong for Austen. But I liked his attention to detail. Sonny Liew of Singapore did three of the P&P covers . . . and based on favorable reader response, Marvel decided to have him do the interiors of S&S. His style is more lyrical and idiosyncratic, and I think it fits Austen very well.
[see the full text at the BN Romance Blog]
Note that Issue # 4 [cover above] was released on August 25, 2010; Issue #5 will be released on September 22; and the hardcover edition on November 10th. At $3.99 / comic and $19.99 for the hardcover, this might be the least expensive [and most fun!] addition to your Austen collection! so call your local comic book store today! [in Burlington, this is Earth Prime Comics on Church Street].
[Posted by Deb]