A couple of weeks ago, I bought Hope Larson’s A Wrinkle In Time graphic novel, a purchase which was spurred by my intense love for the original. My propensity for revisiting favorite media over and over didn’t start with Netflix’s enabling – I read Wrinkle at least four times as a kid and young teenager and I would read it again today if my (probably mildewed from reading in the shower) copy weren’t at my parents’ house. I guess that’s what libraries are for. Mental note.
Anyway, I bought the graphic version with the idea that I might do a side-by-side-by-side comparison between the original novel, the graphic novel and movie, though I have low expectations for the movie and have not particularly been looking forward to that part of it. The thing about books, especially books from childhood, is that they encourage you to formulate very vivid and very exact mental images of characters and settings and worlds. And for something as ingrained in my childhood-to-adult brain, with some VERY exact images of how things would look, even picking up the graphic novel was scary. You don’t want someone else coming around and screwing up your idea of things – get out of my book, pictures!!! – so my reaction to this adaptation was, in a lot of ways, similar to most people’s reactions to movie adaptations of beloved books.
Now, I’ve never really been one to complain about a movie’s lack of faith to, or even reverence for, a book’s plot. I do have a basic understanding of movies’ restrictions, as well as their strengths. They can lend a grandeur to a world that would otherwise be kind of sketchy in my unimaginative mind, but they can also gloss over things that I pick out to be important points from books. They can also leave a whole lot of stuff out. I’m a little more forgiving of movies for that sort of thing. They’re made for broad audiences. They’re made for people who have never read the book. They’re made for people who don’t want to spend 2 weeks reading a book and then even longer digesting it. They’re made for oppressively hot summer afternoons and for taking a break from Christmas.
But graphic adaptations of books have a different challenge. You wouldn’t write a graphic adaptation of a book without a great deal of love and reverence for the source material. The audience won’t be that big, you generally won’t stand to make gobs and gobs of money, and it takes a huge individual (or possibly group) effort and time investment to make it happen. So I’m almost more likely to go into a graphic adaptation of a book with really high expectations that it will at least be a whole adaptation with relative faith to the spirit of the source.
That said, I have to make sure that I’m not setting myself up for disappointment when, for instance, the world Hope Larson creates isn’t as vivid or colorful or terrifying as what I got from the book oh so many years ago. She got IT’s ooze right, I think, and the general barrenness of IT’s chamber right, I think, but the blue and black palette of the book didn’t allow for the disgusting pinky-gray color I’d always imagined, and come on. Even if the whole book had been blue and black, you at least have to make IT a disgusting pinky-gray color. I also think IT was a little too big. You see? You see what I mean? All of these nitpicky problems with what is otherwise a very well executed act of love from an obvious fan and talented artist! I’m a jerk!
Anyway, this is a tangential discussion to what I originally came here to write (which will have to wait for another day when I can focus more), which was Comic Books vs. Comic Book Movies. So think about that one for a while, compose your thoughts, and let’s discuss.