Sunday, 5 September 2010

Far from the madding crowd.

'Far From the Madding Crowd' by Thomas Hardy inspired the wonderful graphic novel 'Tamara Drewe' which is being released this week and I am overwhelmed with eagerness to see it. The graphic novel (I really quite like still calling them comics but the sort of comic I read always seems to be referred to as a graphic novel these days) is by Posy Simmonds and is absolutely smashingly good. Vaguely based on the Hardy book which I have not read (not a fan of his) it tells the tale of Tamara Drewe's return to her girlhood village following a nose job and her successes as a hack journalist. It is tremendously funny and frightfully middle-class, indeed the latter characteristic is a common theme throughout Simmonds' work which is perhaps why I find her so amusing an author. 'Tamara Drewe' is Simmonds' best work, though 'Gemma Bovary' (inspired by Flaubert's Madame) is also jolly good.

The film stars Gemma Arterton who also played Hardy's Tess from 'Tess of the d'Urbervilles' in a BBC adaptation a few years ago. She seems like the perfect choice for Drewe, as does Roger Allam as Nicholas Hardiment, but I remain unconvinced by the choice of Tamsin Grieg as Hardiment's wife as in the comic book she was most plump and that weight fit the character to such an extent that having her on screen as thin literally seems to detract something from Beth Hardiman. I plan to see it this Friday after it's Thursday release and am so looking forward to it! 

For those who wish to see the trailer:

The graphic novel was originally serialised in the Guardian newspaper just as 'Bridget Jones' first appeared in installments in the Independant. I wish newspapers still serialise books but the only example I can think of is '44 Scotland Street' by Alexander McCall Smith which was in the Scotsman, and sadly I do not enjoy his work. When his books first started appearing I bought 'The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency' and disliked it so much that I didn't get much beyond the first chapter. 'The Diary of a Nobody' which I mentioned in my last entry also first appeared in serial form back in the glorious days of Punch magazine. I do so wish Punch was still in existence for I have often thought I would adore it.

Graphic novels get a funny wrap from society in general but I have long been a fan. I am not at all into what I refer to as superhero comics but adore the work of Daniel Clowes who wrote 'Ghost World' (also an excellent film) and 'Ice Haven', Alan Moore who wrote 'Watchmen' and 'V for Vendetta' (both truly dreadful films) and 'The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen' (a horrendously bad film). I think most other girls are put off reading them due to the emphasis on superheros but they really should give them a second look. Posy Simmonds' work is particularly easy to get into as her books feel like pure books due to the large amount of text she incorporates. I very much enjoyed seeing 'Scott Pilgrim vs the World' last week and am rather interested in comparing the film to the graphic novels of the same name which  good friend assures me are much better than the big screen version.

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