Waiting For The Trade – Twilight: The Graphic Novel Volume 1

Writer: Stephenie Meyer
Artist & Adaptation by: Young Kim

This is going to be a review which is as much about context as it is content. Allow me to set the scene for you. I’ve not seen Twilight, I’ve not read Twilight, I’ve avoided pretty much everything to do with Twilight. From my general internet meanderings I could tell you the lead male characters’ names but not the lead female, I know it’s a series of books and I know that all of a sudden the kids area in Waterstones where I take my 3yr old has a section called “paranormal romance”.

I’m fiercely independent in my views on what I read, and I wanted to read or watch Twilight on my own terms and make my own mind up rather than jump onboard an anti-Twilight bandwagon which just seems to be about giving geeks of other flavours the opportunity to look down their noses at another group of people. I’d always intended to watch the movie first but a recent visit to the library provided the opportunity to pick up this hardcover and I though “why not”.

Korean creator Young Kim has adapted the novel with supervision from the original author, this fact is stressed multiple times on the cover and elsewhere, so much that I wondered if this was to try and give it a legitimacy because it deviated from the story? Having not read or seen other version I don’t know…it just seemed that way.

The story is presented in a “manga” style, although given the Korean origin wikipedia tells me manhwa would be the more apt term. This isn’t to my taste and isn’t just a case of the artwork it bleeds into the way that the characters interact, they tend to speak in short blunt statements, rarely speaking more than a sentence, I was reminded of badly dubbed Japanese movies with shouty actors. This seemed more prevalent in the first half of the book as the on-again off-again friendship/romance between Edward and Bella develops.

Another aspect of the story is that a lot of the storytelling seems to be in looks, glances, stares and generally other things which doesn’t put words on the page of a comic, there’s a little internal monologue from Bella but you do find an awful lot of silent panels and this does make it an amazingly quick read, I’m not sure it took me more than 30 mins to cover the 224 pages. In that respect it reminded me a bit of the 2nd season of Lost, where a lot of the story was carried forward in pouty looks between characters.

The story itself isn’t that bad, my main beef was that it was a little light on content. I don’t know if this covers the entire first novel but it seemed to end abruptly and frankly, not much had happened. There’s nothing I can really tear into or praise overtly. As romance stories go it seemed quite straightforward, I’d be interested how the supernatural elements were handled in other media as Bella seems a little too accepting for my tastes. There are only two characters in the comic, there’s lots of other figures in the panels but none of them have character, even Jacob who I believe is a significant character appears only briefly in a real exposition-fairy cameo.

The art is more than serviceable, mainly presented in grayscale the occasional uses of colour do make an impact and are well used. There’s one pivotal scene, a car crash, which I thought was badly laid out and as such was confusing and it wasn’t till a few pages later when it was explained in dialogue that I realised what had happened.

My one real rant is that the lettering is absolutely awful, I know it’s been covered by other reviewers and they were so right. If ever there was a lesson in what a good letterer brings to a book and what slavish word-processor lettering takes away then this is it. How Atom Books didn’t address this I will never know, surely anyone in the comics industry could have told them how wrong this looked?

Ultimately though, as the popping of my Twilight cherry goes, it was okay and nothing more. I’d read further volumes and I’d still like to watch the film to make my own mind up.

Rating:

Reviewer: Dave Williams

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