Art and Adaptation by Young Kim
ISBN: 978 1 905654 66 6
Reviewed by Tehani Wessely, April 2010
First there was a book, then a series, the movies, merchandise, fan fic … everything you can imagine as the Twilight phenomenon rolled over publishing, film and fans everywhere. Unless you’ve been living under a bridge in Outer Mongolia for the last few years, you will have heard of Twilight, and know the story. Just in case, a short synopsis: clumsy girl moves to rainy town, meets sparkly “vegetarian” vampire, falls in love. There’s a bit more to it, but that’s the basics.
The Twilight madness that has taken over the world in recent years rivals the Harry Potter juggernaut that invigorated Young Adult and Children’s publishing in the late 1990s and early Noughties. Twilight fans start at a slightly older readership age, and slant more towards the female side of the demographic, but this seems only to make them even more intense in their passion for the books (and author), films (and actors) than those who worship Rowling. And now Twilight has something that Potterdom doesn’t: a graphic novel.
Eagerly anticipated by fans of all ages, the first volume of the graphic adaptation of the book that started it all is now being devoured by readers everywhere. And while I may have suggested in other reviews that Twilight has its faults (in the themes and writing), I’m very impressed with this book.
To begin, it is beautiful. Young Kim has not let film casting influence her work, and the gorgeous art (produced on quality gloss paper stock) is the first thing that draws you in. The characters are clearly Bella, Edward, Jacob and company, but they are as those who have read the books will have dreamt them, without the overlay of the features of Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner et al. With attention to detail and black and white art interspersed with strategic coloured and partially-coloured panels, the style is simply stunning. So much so, in fact, that those who are well acquainted with the story will probably find themselves almost ignoring the text, which is, interestingly, quite minimalist.
The length of the original story necessitated the split of the graphic novel into two volumes. This was to be expected, but what is surprising about the adaptation is how little text and dialogue is actually used. It is unobtrusive, frequently positioned on the panel in a way that oftimes blends into the artwork. That is not to suggest it is at all difficult to read, more that it does not disturb the reader’s experience of the art alone, which is wonderful all on its own.
This book needs little publicity: it will sell gangbusters because of the franchise behind it, no matter how it is reviewed or promoted. What is great is that it deserves to sell well. It is a beautiful book, a cleverly written adaptation of an enormously popular novel that stands on its own merit. Fans will adore it, booksellers with love it, and librarians will delight in having another tool to suck reluctant readers into books. I predict that Twilight: the graphic novel Volume 1 (and any subsequent volumes by the same collaborator) will fly off the shelf. A recommended book, and not just for the fans.