Nancy Butler, author of the graphic novel version of Pride and Prejudice, has turned another Jane Austen classic into a series of comic books. I was lucky to meet Butler at Book Expo America in May and snag a signed copy of the first issue of the Sense & Sensibility comic series by Marvel. I haven’t read a comic book since I was a kid, but I was willing to give it a try since I can’t get enough of all things Jane Austen.
I read this issue in about 20 minutes in Penn Station, waiting for the train from NYC to Connecticut. It was a wonderful way to pass the time in a noisy space. If you’re familiar with Austen’s Sense & Sensibility, then there are no surprises in Butler’s version — and that’s a good thing when you’re looking for a mindless but entertaining read.
Issue 1 begins with the death of Henry Dashwood and his son’s promise to take care of his stepmother and his three half sisters, Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret. John’s wife, Fanny, however, wants the entire estate to be theirs and convinces John that he need not provide the monetary support he’d planned on. While the fate of the four Dashwood women is being sorted out, Elinor becomes acquainted with Fanny’s brother, Edward Ferrars, and grows quite fond of him. Butler does a good job paraphrasing Austen’s words to show the differences between Elinor and Marianne when it comes to matters of the heart. Issue 1 draws to a close as the Dashwood sisters and their mother embark upon a new life in a new home.
I really enjoyed Sense & Sensibility in comic form. Of course, the comic cannot convey everything Austen hoped to through her writing, but Butler captures the essence of the story. Sonny Liew’s illustrations strike the perfect balance between light and dark, emphasizing the contrast between Elinor’s happiness with Edward and the gloominess of the Dashwoods’ dire financial situation. The characters look like you’d imagine them to, and their emotions can be plainly seen on their faces.
At BEA, Butler told me that all of the issues in the series will be compiled into a single bound volume to be released later this year — which is perfect for someone like me who doesn’t like to be left hanging and doesn’t plan to track down the remaining issues in the series. You can bet I’ll be checking out the graphic novel when it is published.
Disclosure: I received Sense & Sensibility (Marvel #1) from Book Expo America 2010.
© 2010 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.