Jane Eyre – the Graphic Novel

by Charlotte Brontë; script adaptation by Amy Corzine, artwork by John M Burns, lettering by Terry Wiley (Classical Comics, 2010 [1847])

“I scorn your idea of love and the counterfeit sentiment you offer. And I scorn you when you offer it.”

This Charlotte Brontë classic is brought to vibrant life by artist John M. Burns. His sympathetic treatment of Jane Eyre’s life during the 19th century will delight any reader with its strong emotions and wonderfully rich atmosphere.

Travel back to a time of grand Victorian mansions contrasted with the severest poverty and immerse yourself in this love story. It is presented in full colour graphic novel format wonderfully illustrated by legendary artist John M. Burns.

It meets UK curriculum requirements. Teachers notes/study guides for KS2/KS3 available.

There’s not a lot to say about the graphic novel version of Jane Eyre more than “it’s the most faithful adaptation I’ve come across”. It even got the “and a little depressed” scene spot on! This graphic novel version can be got in two versions. The “original text version” (black cover, the one I read) has the dialogue and descriptions like they are in the original, except perhaps a bit shortened. After all, they’re trying to squeeze in a lot of novel in 144 pages! The other is a “quick text version” (colour cover) is called thus because it has a simplified language which might be easier for younger readers to understand – or people who find Victorian English too tedious. Clickies (pdf): see a few pages from the original text version, and compare it with a few pages from the quick text version. Or just have a look at them to see examples of the artwork and storytelling!

I grew up reading about the adventures of Asterix, Lucky Luke and Tintin, not to mention Bamse, so I’m used to comics. Haven’t read any graphic novels as such, so it’s a bit tricky to get into, and with Jane Eyre, the pictures – while lovely pieces of art – just distracted me from the story, because I kept thinking “but that’s not what they look like!” all the time. The characters looked wrong, but it’s no fault of the artist, but simply because we all create our own images in our heads as to what characters look like when we read something. We might not have an exact image, but generally, when we see a picture of a character, we’ll disagree with it, because while we might not have a clear picture of the character, we just know that “that ain’t it”, so to speak.

I would definitely recommend it, though. It’s a great introduction to Jane Eyre, and if you haven’t got the patience to read the original book (or, let’s be honest, get bored by it), or even to sit through four or five hours of BBC drama, but still want to know the story – this is excellent. It tells the whole story from beginning to end, and you get a good feel for it, without important things being missed or changed around. This is the original story, the way Brontë wrote it (purists delight!), and that’s the purpose of it: to show a classic book to a new audience, but without losing any of the original story. Classical Comics have definitely succeeded with that, and done it in full colour. Considering they all were keen on painting and drawing, I think Charlotte Brontë would have been pleased to see her most famous novel in this form. Wish I was as good as Mr. Burns when it comes to artwork, but alas. (I actually have canvasses, paintbrushes, paint and we even got me a tabletop easel earlier this year – I just need to use it. Regardless of the outcome!)

If you’re interested, I’d definitely recommend having a look at Classical Comics’ other titles as well. For instance, they have a Wuthering Heights graphic novel currently in production – estimated to be released next year! Think I might just pick that one up as well when it comes out. 🙂

See more pictures at Classical Comics: Jane Eyre – The Graphic Novel

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