This is a big week for the Twilight franchise with the release of The Twilight Saga: New Moon DVD and Twilight: The Graphic Novel. I pre-ordered both, and I’ve been hitting up the UPS site regularly to track my packages. I was beyond thrilled on Wednesday when I saw that the graphic novel had been delivered. After a minor battle with my daughter over who was going to read it first, my wait was … almost over. I acquiesced once I realized I was being a bit of a brat. (HEY! Don’t judge me. Twilight is a hell of a drug.) Besides, her bedtime is way before mine. I knew I’d get to be alone with my precious soon enough. Volume 1 offers up the first half of the Twilight story. Here’s the good, the meh, and the ugly.
Worst speech bubbles ever! What the hell? They’re awkwardly placed on the page, and they’re so obnoxious-looking that they often overshadow the artwork. And isn’t the art the whole point of a graphic novel? This should have been called Twilight: The Graphic Novel with STUPID, UGLY, SPEECH BUBBLES. They even have these weird squiggly lines denoting who is speaking, but because of the bizarre placement, that didn’t help me make sense of things. All I got were ugly squiggly lines over the art I had paid to enjoy. Considering how much money this franchise has made, couldn’t the publisher have sprung for a letterer? Oh, how I have taken for the lettering for granted in my comic books. I had no idea how crucial it is to an illustrated medium’s authenticity and visual atmosphere. All hail the letterer! And fuck Yen Press for typing it up in Times New Roman and Monotype Corsiva. Cheap Basterds.
Though I read comics and graphic novels constantly, I’m not that familiar with Manga or the nuances of Manga style. So the entire time I’m reading the book, I’m thinking, “What the hell is that damn teardrop thing Bella’s always got on her face?” I now know that is used to show anxiety, embarrassment or insecurity. Let’s just say it was a permanent fixture.
Much of the background detail, with the exception of “The Meadow” (thank friggin’ goodness), is done in a photorealistic style. I’m not sure if this was just another example of Yen Press’ stinginess, or if the artist isn’t great at backgrounds. Twilight fans can be obsessive, so I can imagine someone — maybe author Stephanie Meyer herself, saying, “Let’s put a real image of Forks High School, and do some cel-shading. Those crazy Twihards will love that.” Whatever the reason, these panels left me lukewarm. Part of my huge excitement about this graphic novel stemmed from the potential for some beautiful, distinctive interpretations of scenes from the original book — not a damn gray-scale, shaded photo of a silver Volvo on a Washington highway. Perhaps I should learn to draw.
The Good (Spoilers ahead!)
No matter how many times I watch the Twilight movie, it just doesn’t give me the ultimate high of the book it’s based on. Where the movie fails, the graphic novel delivers. The graphic novel doesn’t have to pander to Hollywood and time limits. This adaptation maintains the integrity of the story, and I got ALL of my favorite quotes. I also got so see many scenes I had only imagined before: Bella contemplatively staring in the bathroom mirror, blood-typing in biology, cooking dinner for Charlie and dreaming about Edward. I got to see the lemonade bottle-top, Bella’s decisive meditation in the forest, the new-age hippie lady in the bookstore and the conversation in Edward’s Volvo on the way back from Port Angeles. It was a joy to see those scenes.
I also thought the characters were drawn very well. Kim did an excellent job of staying true to Meyer’s descriptions. There are some beautiful splash pages, and the Manga technique of speed lines works perfectly when Edward demonstrates his vampire prowess. The best part, by far, is the meadow scenery. Since Forks is this gloomy place with little to no sun, the entire book is gray-scaled. But once Bella and Edward climb the mountain and step into the meadow, the sun shines gloriously — in color. In fact, these are the only panels that are done in color, and it works. Of course, there’s a full color splash page of Edward as he steps into the sun and sparkles. It is quite perfect.
I’d expected better quality overall, given the vast amounts of cash this series is raking in. The apparent corner-cutting gave me a twinge of disappointment. That aside, the book manages to convey all of the important aspects of the story, but not as intensely as the original book. My opinion is that the graphic novel is a better choice for young girls who are dying to read Twilight. Did I enjoy it? Yeah — but that was kind of inevitable.