Friday, November 18, 2011

Trade Central Station: Jane Austen's Emma

"Rollin' with the homies"

Marvel has been publishing comic adaptations of Jane Austen's novels in a line they call Marvel Illustrated. Already collected in trade format is Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. Now, I own those two stories as film adaptations. Sense and Sensibility is the 1995 version starring Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman and Kate Winslet. Pride and Prejudice is the 2006 version starring Keira Knightley. I love both these movies very much. I had known for a while that Marvel was adapting the novels into comics but I forgot all about it after a while and thought of picking up a copy only after seeing an ad in one of their other comics (I think it was Amazing Spider-man) for Emma. I don't own that on dvd and thought I was as such not familiar with the story. I picked up the trade while at this year's NYCC. It wasn't until I actually cracked open the book that it hit me. I did know this story. I know it from the 1995 film adaptation called "Clueless" starring Alicia Silverstone. Duh.

Remembering that fact did make it easier to get into the flow of the story. So many characters get introduced throughout the story and it was sometimes easy to lose track of them all.

There was a one page forward by the author, Nancy Butler. She talks briefly about social statuses as it relates to one's method of travel during Emma's time and then a bit about the timelessness of the character of Emma. A lot of that is iterated in the story, itself.

Janet Lee is the artist. At a glance, the pastel color palette did not impress me but it works for the story. It feels cheerful and bright, complementing the rich life of the characters with their balls/dances and romances. My favorite moments in the artwork was when there was a lot of detail to look at, whether that was in the ladies' dresses or the background. That was when I felt the use of markers was best because at other times, the streaks of marker were too apparent. Along with some of the watercolor washes, they felt to be filling in space rather than describing a texture or developing a depth in the space. The characters look very similar to one another and the easiest way to tell them apart is hair color and style.

Overall, the artwork is very quaint and charming.

The story is that Emma sees herself as a matchmaker. When she comes to know a young woman, Harriet Smith, she takes it upon herself to set her up with some one. Little is known of Harriet's status so Emma assumes she must be of a gentleman's family and will set Harriet up with someone of no less stature. It's unfortunate as very early on, Harriet is proposed to by Mr. Martin but he is not the status Emma would hope for. Inevitably, nothing works out the way Emma plans. She calls off matchmaking but in the end, she finds herself falling in love with an old friend, George Knightley.

Though the characters faces looked similar, the facial expressions were delightful. I love the fashions in it too.

The back of the trade has all of the covers from the single issues. They used the cover to issue two for the trade. It really sums the story up well. Emma is happy to set up Harriet with Mr. Elton. Harriet gives him her heart and Mr. Elton looks as if he'd rather be anywhere else.  

I love love love Pride and Prejudice, so I definitely plan to pick up that trade, as well, now that I've finished Emma. The stories are wonderful, which is a credit to Jane Austen. Nancy Butler wrote the adaptation to Pride and Prejudice too, though there is a different artist, Hugo Petris. But judging by the cover, it looks really lovely, too.


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