I’ve often wondered what Jane Austen would think of the Jane Austen industry. While I don’t suppose to have a window into her mind I have no doubt that some of the literature inspired by her work would shock and infuriate her. In fact, the Jane Austen industry might be the quintessential argument against literature going into the public domain. While there are plenty of works that would make Jane Austen blush, either in embarrassment or anger, there is as much or more that she would look at with interest, respect or good humor. I would imagine that the graphic novelization of her works would fall into the latter category.
With Sense and Sensibility (my review) and Pride and Prejudice, Marvel has established itself as the premier publisher of graphic classics. Nancy Butler (Sense and Sensibility) seems to be making a career of adapting Austen for marvel and she does a superb job yet again. There were a couple of clunky segues due to omissions (the specifics escape me now) but that opinion might be due to my intimate familiarity with the story. Someone new to Pride and Prejudice, or someone who has only seen the 2005 adaptation would no doubt feel it is a faithful adaptation, to which I would agree.
I was a bit taken aback by Hugo Petrus’s artwork. The five sisters, with their full, pouty, red lips, tousled hair and haughty expressions, looked more like 21st century party girls at a Regency costume ball than 19th century young ladies. Uncle Gardiner’s facial hair was circa late Victorian era instead of the Regency or Edwardian era. While I never got over the anachronism of Uncle Gardiner’s mustache and sideburns, I gradually adapted to the look of the Bennet sisters. As I sit here and ponder which artistic style I enjoyed more, Petrus’s Pride and Prejudice or Sonny Liew’s Sense and Sensibility, I find that I like them both equally, despite their different styles. Liew’s style fits the mood of Sense and Sensibility perfectly and Petrus’s more modern take on the sisters fits the personality of the characters and mood of Pride and Prejudice.
While searching the Marvel website for this post, I discovered that Marvel is in the middle of adaptating Emma, with Nancy Butler again condensing the story and Janet Lee penciling. I expect more of the same quality Marvel gave us with Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice. I am also waiting anxiously for the inevitable adaptations of the remaining three novels. Marvel can’t leave us fans hanging. We require a full set.
Pride and Prejudice (Marvel Comics) by Jane Austen; adaptation by Nancy Butler, artwork by Hugo Petrus (★★★★☆)