Monday, July 27, 2009

Great Expectations: The Graphic Novel Text adapted from Charles Dickens

My Signet Classic paperback copy of the full text of Great Expectations runs to a little over 500 pages. While I am not a great Dickens fan, I do have my favorites, and I have read this one a couple of times. So, imagine my surprise when I sat down Sunday afternoon to read the graphic version published by “Classical Comics” and finished in time to cook dinner. There is no way I could possibly read this great story in a couple hours.

Now, this may seem a benefit to some people who see reading as a waste of time. True, the illustrations have a lot of creativity, and they match, to a small degree, my idea of what the characters look like, but any serious reader will agree that the pleasure of assembling this cast of characters from the imagination is far more rewarding than adopting some other person’s ideas.

Wait, it gets better. Inside the back cover, Classical Comics is now issuing books in three formats: full text, “plain text” (wherein all the language has been modernized), and “quick text” for, as the ad says, “a fast-paced read.”

How much faster could anyone possibly want to skim through a great novel than an afternoon? What’s next, novels on Twitter? Oh, sorry, I forgot about the article I read a couple of weeks ago about “twitterature” – novels and plays reduced to 140 characters.

We are going backwards. Soon we will have novels only in pictures -- all that will be missing will be the cave wall. Graphic novels are comic books for adults without the patience or the attention span to sit down and read words. When I was a kid, I loved “Classic Comics.” I had dozens of them, but I also read many, many books. Fortunately, my curiosity about what lay “between the panels” drove me to read the texts of the stories. I doubt graphic novels will do that to today’s non-reading young people.

One star for the great drawings.

--Chiron, 7/26/09

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