Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Pride and Prejudice and Peter Parker and Pepper Potts and Pablo Picasso and Parker Posey

It is a truth universally acknowledged
begins the first line of one of the finest and most famous novels in the English language,
...that anyone in possession of a plateful of sugar cookies must be in want of a little stuffed bull
Wait, no, I've made another one of my silly and self-centered mistakes.
...that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.
There, that's better! Thus begins Pride and Prejudice, which my good pal Bridget Jones would call "The Greatest Book of Our Time." Obviously except for Salman Rushdie's books, which are also very good. And Lord Archer's, his aren't bad either. So this is one of the top thirty books of our time. It was published exactly two hundred years ago this very day (okay, okay, on Monday), and I'd like to celebrate Ms. Jane Apple Austen's masterpiece as well as its classic sequels: Emma and Emmerling, Pride and Prejudice II: Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice: Die Proud with a Vengeance, and many, many more, incluing the ones nobody ever reads, like Lady Susan and Fifty Shades of Mansfield Park.

But what of comic book adaptations of Pride and Prejudice? Well, as you might expect from the comic book industry, there just aren't that many. There isn't one in the zillions-long series of Classics Illustrated (and they even adapted Michael Strogoff, Jules Verne's thrilling historical novel about the invention of Russia's national dish). There isn't even a version in Marvel's famous 1970s Marvel Classics Comics line...although I like to think that if there were, it might go something like this:

Pride and Prejudice: shamelessly underrepresented in the comics. Sure, there was a Penguin: Pain and Prejudice series, which is close but no exploding cigar...

Cover of Penguin: Pain & Prejudice #2 (January 2012), art by Szymon Kudranski

And yes, of course we have Kitty Pryde (we'll always have Kitty Pryde), but it's spelled differently and she only starred in a miniseries with Pete Wisdom, not Pete Prejudice.

Cover of Pryde and Wisdom #3 (November 1996), pencils by Terry Dodson, inks by Rachel Pinnock

Altho', if I'd been in charge of Marvel...

Yes, it took us until 2009 (waaaaaaaay back then when I was only six) to get ourselves a Pride and Prejudice comic book series, in the Marvel Illustrated line. Elizabeth Bennet: the sensational character find of both 1813 and 2009! Even Robin only got one year.

I really like this series: it's beautifully illustrated and adapts/condenses the novel pretty faithfully into just five issues. Five issues! Heck, even Old Man Logan took an Annual to finish it up.

Panels from Pride and Prejudice #1 (June 2009), original novel by Jane Austen, script by Nancy Butler, pencils and inks by Hugo Petrus, colors by Alejandro Torres, letters by Dave Sharpe

It neatly captures the high-spirited, willful Lizzy Bennet and her disdain (at first!) for the haughty Mr. Darcy... well as their eventual budding romance...

It's a dialogue-heavy comic, but adaptor Nancy Butler keeps the pace brisk and light, and unlike lots of literary adaptations into comic book form, it never feels overwhelmed by text. The first-time-to-comics-reader friendly upper and lower case lettering is a big help as well.

Why, this comic book is full of zing!

If I have a complaint...and don't I always!'s that Marvel, as usual, missed the boat with the original publication of the comic books. Seeing as Pride and Prejudice might have been picked up by readers who might never have read a superhero book, it woulda behooved (behoofed?) them to promote the rest of the Marvel Illustrated line in the book. Instead, what kind of ads do you think we got in the pages of Pride and Prejudice? Why, let's round up the usual suspects:

Ads published in the Pride and Prejudice limited series

What, no female-oriented ads for this market?

Ads published in the Pride and Prejudice limited series

And, of course, this one.

Nope, Marvel did not promote their other Jane Austen books*...

Yes, it's true! Marvel did do a comic book Emma!

Cover of Emma #3 (July 2011), pencils, inks, and colors by Janet K. Lee

Not to be confused with this female-friendly, young-adult oriented Emma.

Cover of Emma Frost #3 (October 2003), painting by Greg Horn
Of course, while we're talking comic book adaptations of Pride and Prejudice, we dare not forget the version with the most walking dead in it, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Graphic Novel!

Cover of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Graphic Novel (June 2010), painting by Roberto Parada

The only Jane Austen graphic novel that features mannered dancing and romance...

Panels from Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Graphic Novel (June 2010), based on the novel by Seth Grahame-Smith, script by Tony Lee, pencils and inks by Cliff Richards**

Like salad or Susan, suddenly...zombies!


Curiously enough, this is exactly how Daredevil and Elektra met.

Anyway, Happy Birthday, Pride and Prejudice. Let's hope you get another crazy-ass comic book adaptation in the next two hundred years, huh? In the meantime we can watch one of the thousands of movie versions, especially the one starring my good pal Colin "Bomber" Firth, the definitive Mr. Darcy:

How awesome is Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy? So awesome that he also played Mr. Darcy in one of my fave films, Bridget Jones's Diary!

And let us never forget the greatest Lizzy Bennet of them all, Miss Keira (sighhhhhhh) Knightley!

So, Pride and Prejudice...won't you?

*Yes, I know the other Jane Austen comics were published after Pride and Prejudice. As we say here at COBF, never let the facts get on the way of the set-up to an Emma Frost joke.
**CLIFFFFFF! Sing "Summer Holiday", Cliff!


Delta said...

Not totally up on my Austen, but any post that features Morgan Freeman is fine by me.

Michael Jones said...

Was there ever a Comic adaptation of "Ethel the Aardvark Goes Quantity Surveying"? I'm sure it'd sell like hotcakes.

JDMeans said...

I fondly remember the Fantastic Four mini series "True Story" by Paul Cornell(not a great FF story but a fun one). The FF faced demons that were attacking fictional characters in an effort to destroy the concept of fiction. At one point the demons were attacking the Dashwood sisters from Sense and Sensibility, prompting the Thing to shout, "It's a truth universally acknowledged--that IT'S CLOBBERIN' TIME!" Sue then commented that he was quoting the wrong Austen book.

SallyP said...


Colin Firth IS Mister Darcy!

Bully said...

JDMeans: I had totally forgotten about the Austen section in FF: True Story! Thanks for reminding me!

Blam said...

Firth Issue Special
(drops mike)