Lost in Translation: The Adaptation of Popular Novels Into Graphic Novels

una tigre

So, I see that Patricia Brigg’s new graphic novel, Homecoming, has been doing well on the NYT bestseller’s list. Glad to see she has an audience there. As for me, I have no intentions of buying it. No offense. I just think there is a loss of crossover appeal there (for me) as the characters are 1) not new and 2) the artist is trying to compete with my image of these characters and that will never do.

I ran across this round table discussion at the Graphic Novel Reporter where they discuss Adapting Prose to Comics. There’s even some tidbit info about Diana Gabaldon’s scripting new graphic novel, that, get this, is told from Jamie’s point of view from the Outlander series! But to highlight,

Betsy: Due to the costs involved in hiring so many contributors to the job—pencilers, inkers, scripters, letterers, colorists if the work is in four-color—economics demand that authors who have a large and loyal fan following are the best choice for adaptation. Titles with a strong dose of the fantastic seem to have been the most successful so far: Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series and Stephen King’s Dark Tower series have done very well.


Bottom line, I’m not all that enthusiastic about this new or not so new trend of adapting popular fiction works into graphic novels or comic books. I believe that not every work will translate well in this format. I don’t need a visual hook and I’m not enticed by the seemingly new story seen from a different pov. Just not for me, I’m afraid. Not unless I’ve had a mind sweep where my memory is wiped clean of all prior knowledge of characters and character history.

Enough about what I think. What do you, the reader, think about this? Is there something new and different and fresh being added when popular fiction gets adapted as a comic book?

Photo Credit: sourmash


About Keishon

Voracious reader of just about everything.
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5 Responses to Lost in Translation: The Adaptation of Popular Novels Into Graphic Novels

  1. Coral says:

    Like you, I have a picture of the characters in my mind. Therefore I try to avoid adaptions. However the TV series “Wire in the Blood” did put me on to author Val McDermid but Robson Green is now Dr Tony Hill forever.

  2. Tara Marie says:

    I pulled this from the link

    Diana Gabaldon is scripting a full-length graphic novel adaptation of Outlander told from Jamie Fraser’s point of view—in essence offering her fans an original story, since there are many scenes and conversations that don’t appear in the original novel. Gabaldon’s checkered past as a writer of Scrooge McDuck comics for Disney is serving her well!

    I’m having a *roll my eyes* moment. And yet I’m somehow intrigued. Shame on me.

  3. animemiz says:

    I imagine it would happen as time goes on, this does show the trend of where society is going.. the current generation is becoming very visually oriented…so while there is definitely more of the verbal basics of a good book.. that is the trend..

  4. dancechica says:

    Funny, I just read Briggs’ Homecoming last night and found myself underwhelmed. While I liked the story, the art wasn’t to my taste at all. I just didn’t care for the artists’ vision of the characters. I doubt I will be eager to pick up more comic book adaptions in the future.

  5. jillyfae says:

    Sometimes the adaptations can be good, actually. I quite enjoyed Butcher’s Dresden Files prequel (“Welcome to the Jungle”) and got a kick out of finally getting to SEE the height difference when Murphy is upset and glaring at Harry. However, while I liked the story in “Homecoming”, I was also less than thrilled with the art style. It wasn’t so bad I couldn’t read it, but it didn’t add anything to any of the characters.

    And in either case, I have no interest in adaptations of the existing stories, but I enjoy the short side stories of things that weren’t in the originals. *shrugs* Extra content can be fun, adapted content is rather a waste, IMHO, as the books themselves usually did a great job the first time. (And if they didn’t, I don’t want to read the graphic novels either, so I’m definitely not going to buy them. Two strikes, after all.)

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