Some of these are more historical than others. But they are all set in history, which is what I’m choosing to call historical fiction.
Mary Talbot, author
Kate Charlesworth and Bryan Talbot, artists
Anticipation/Expectation level: I hoped it would be more focused on the movement and less on one person (due to my experience with Woman Rebel)
My reality: Please click on the art sample to read a well thought -out review from Forbidden Planet. I liked this title and thought it covered so much, with a realistic, period-appropriate art style, mostly black and white with pops of color that helped define scenes and keep the eye fresh. The reader sees a long arc of the women’s voting rights movement in Britain through the eyes of an orphan, Sally Heathcote, who is rescued from a workhouse by one of the main ladies in her youth and becomes deeply involved with two of the competing societies and a secret guerrilla movement. I knew nothing about this history and it was both sadly familiar and fascinating. It is a lot to take in. I should have read it more slowly. And the prologue that teases the split between two factions, I felt, just served to confuse instead of hook. I never felt like I really grasped why the split occurred- at first I thought it was because of differences in opinion regarding violent protest, but then both sides seemed to approve of that in some way. Still a worthy endeavor, I hope there are more comics coming through with such scope and focused vision.
Will teens like it?: I don’t know. I think it might be great in the classroom and welcome there. A bit heavy for the casual reader, but nothing that screams NO TEEN APPEAL.
Is it “great” for teens?”: Yes, this is one of those that I think belongs on the list despite limited appeal for the browser.
Victor Hugo, author
Crystal Silvermoon and Stacy King, Adaptors
TszMei Lee, artist
Anticipation / Expectation level: Les Miserables, judged only by its plotline, is kind of perfect for a manga adaptation. If you’ve read it or seen the musical, you know it is full of personal relationship drama enmeshed with life or death, youthful idealist vs. the ruling class drama. It deals with class issues, being a fugitive from the law, etc. So despite the fact that it is a long-ass book being made into a shorter ass book, I thought that this could possibly be entertaining.
My Reality: Unfortunately, cutting out all the detailed moral drama, description of setting and feeling from the book, plus losing the opportunity for maddeningly catchy and heart-pulling music makes for a bland soap opera of a plot. Even the art lacks the usual verve and dynamic panels that are part of most manga (this is probably why it’s the only manga I’m not covering in a manga-only post). Which is not to say that I think the adaptors or artist did a bad job or made bad choices. Just that when the job is done, well or badly, it takes away something integral to the enjoyment of the story. I never felt immersed in the drama. I got the songs stuck in my head without the benefit of having heard them sung. The politics of the time is the vaguest backdrop – the war itself a blip. This is the least connected to history of these 3 novels.
Will Teens like it?: I wonder if manga loving teens would go for the classics in manga form. The ones I know would rather read a classic.
Is it “great”for teens?: No.
Mike Richardson, writer
Stan Sakai, artist
Anticipation/Expectation Level: I’ve heard great things about Stan Sakai!
My Reality: 47 Ronin is a national legend in Japan, a tale about honor and revenge. As far as a story with a lot of talking in interior spaces can be, it is well-adapted for comics. Richardson has done a ton of research and Sakai’s art is so pleasing – it’s round and cartoony but solid and realistic. The colorist does a great job as well, giving the whole thing the muted but rich feel of art on parchment (or I guess rice paper in this case?).
Will Teens like it?: I can see kids who are very into Japan really liking this.
Is it “great” for teens?: It’s a solid entry in the legendary adaptation, so I would say yes.
Get ready for even more posts in even less time as I try to get everything mini-reviewed by the end of the month!