Graphic Novels

Posted in Uncategorized by johnsnavely on September 26, 2007

Chris, in his apt description of the unusual shots in the Old Boy fight scene, reminded me that Old Boy was originally a manga.

In my copious spare time,(read: in the half hour before I pass out in bed), I’ve been “reading” graphic novels and manga. It’s really satisfying to finish a thick-ass (is thick-ass hyphenated?) book in a matter of hours.

Recently, I read Road to Perdition. I remember Sam Mendes’ movie being a disappointment plot-wise but a real stunner visually. The graphic novel was much the same. The ambiance of a Depression Era Chicago was so wonderfully done. The book looked like a series of newspaper clippings saved into a scrap book.

It seems like making movies from graphic novels is a fad right now- witness the recent 300. In school, people kept saying I should see that particular movie “for the visuals.” Which I can get behind, I guess, since being a designer is about harvesting the visuals. The 300, however, was two hours of my life that will never be returned to me. (Ditto times two for Sin City.) But not all of these graphic novel adaptations are poor films with excellent cinematography. There are a few gems.

Hell Boy is a great example. With Mike Mignola, the original author of the graphic novel, writing the script and Guillermo del Toro (props on Pan’s Labyrinth) directing and perhaps, mad props to Ron Perleman, the movie is really fun and original. And when my friend Mason loaned me the comic series, I liked the whole production even more. I can’t wait for more Mignola. His vision is unique. Tim and I were fans of the Amazing Screw on Head, but sadly, that hasn’t panned out into a regular series. Which is a real pity because:

In the meantime, I’ve just read some manga called .hack, which is pretty bad. It’s like an US Weekly graphic novel. Although you WoW players might get a kick out of it…

I also read this one called American Born Chinese. It’s sort of aimed at young adults. I found it touching because it described some aspects of my childhood with emotional accuracy, although it could be argued that all kids feel this way at one time or another. I’m trying to imagine if the book would be as powerful if it were a novel or a shorter illustrated story, and although I don’t know why, I don’t think it would translate well. I don’t think it would make a good movie at all. But somehow it sits very nicely right where it is.


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