by Stephanie Meyer. Art and Adaptation by Young Kim.
A print run of 350,000 copies, first week reported record sales of 66,000 copies and a lot (no, really, a lot) of very excited and enthusing fans writing reviews on Amazon. (Heidi at the Beat has more)
I picked up a copy, mostly through curiosity and the brownie points I knew it would get from Molly, who is off to show it to her Twilight loving friends first thing in the morning after devouring it this afternoon, in one sitting. But I did read it as well and, unsurprisingly, it’s not the best thing I’ve ever read. It’s not the best Manga I’ve ever read either and it’s certainly not going to make anyone’s best of year list who isn’t a huge Twilight fan already. BUT it’s definitely not as bad as most of the comic press seem to be making out.
I never read the Twilight books, so I can’t compare the comic to the books. But I have seen the first film. That was a turgid, desperately slow affair, albeit with a few moments of promise and interesting ideas that were never really realised. The graphic novel is at least way better than the film.
Where the film dragged and floundered the Twilight graphic novel moves along really smoothly, almost too fast at times for these old, unused to the speed of Manga eyes. The moments of the film where the cast just seemed rooted to the spot with implausible and badly acted longing are conveyed by Kim with a style that the film-makers could only imagine.
But generally, although Young Kim’s storytelling is good, the actual artwork is …. well, functional probably damns it with faint praise. It’s very good for doing what it sets out to do, which is to transfer the Twilight story onto the comic page. There’s nothing wonderful about it, but neither is there much that’s glaringly bad either, it’s just a straightfoward transfer of the book to the comic page, with a slightly cold and unemotional feel to the artwork.
(A very familiar moment from the Twilight Graphic Novel Volume 1. Meaningful stares and microscopy. And, yes, bloody awful lettering.)
One of the things the comic press seem to be focusing on is the lettering, which, to be honest, is bloody horrible; huge word balloons seemingly randomly placed in panel with horrible Times New Roman font lost in the middle of the balloon. I’m not getting into it any more than to say that the comic press is absolutely right, and point you in the direction of first Heidi and then Chris Sims’ hugely entertaining take down of the graphic novel:
“Unfortunately, once you actually start reading the book, it all falls apart completely. And it’s all because of the lettering. That might seem like a small thing to pick on, but that’s because like coloring, when lettering is done well, it doesn’t draw a lot of attention to itself. As a result, a lot of people who are new to comics or who don’t spend a lot of time thinking about them don’t understand that lettering is an extremely complex art form unto itself that’s evolved over the past 70 years into something that integrates with the art and dialogue to tell a story in a very specific way… when it’s good. But like coloring, bad lettering is very, very easy to spot. And “Twilight” has the worst lettering I have ever seen.”
But, the other side of this is that Twilight: The Graphic Novel is talking to an entirely different demographic of readers. These are, in many cases, readers who may never have seen a comic for years, or at all. Certainly it’s a group of readers who really don’t know, or care, that the lettering is atrocious. All they want is the Twilight experience. And to be honest, they could have been given a much, much worse introduction to the world of graphic novels than this.
New graphic novel readers enticed into the field by their love of Twilight may not decide to venture further into quality Manga and graphic novels. But undoubtedly some of them will. Even if only one reader picks up anything else it’s a very good thing. We should never, ever snipe at someone new coming into comics with no idea of what is good or bad. We should be welcoming them, guiding them, nurturing their tastes and desperately attempting to keep them reading. It’s all very well being some form of intellectual comic snob over Twilight, but a new reader is priceless. In a few months time Twilight may have given us several hundred thousand new readers. It’s up to us to welcome them in with open arms.
I was never going to be a huge fan of the book. There are just too many barriers to my enjoyment of it. But even going into it with all of my preconceived ideas, I still made it to the end, still found myself enjoying it for what it was, which is no more and no less than a very teen based fantasy love story. Molly thoroughly enjoyed it and I’m sure her Twilight loving friends will be all over it. And in the end, that may just be the point. Twilight The Graphic Novel is not here to serve comics, it’s here to serve Twilight fans. Anything else is a bonus.