When I was younger, I spent…a lot of time standing in the manga section of Books-A-Million just deciding what issue of the most popular manga I wanted. And since I spent a good chunk of time just looking at the books, I often noticed a new trend in the Manga/Graphic Novel section: graphic novel adaptations of best selling Young Adult novels. I saw the rise of such adaptions for Maximum Ride and Twilight (which, admittedly, I really wanted for a time).
12 year-old me was living for this.
This trend, though pretty cool to see, always sort of confused me. These books were already widely read. What was the real point of republishing them as a comic? Was it a way to retell the story with another layer to it? Or was it just a way to keep the hype (and money) flowing? Whatever the case, I never really picked up one of these copies and I didn’t pay it much attention. They were, after all, just comics of stuff I had either already read or never wanted to touch (looking at you, Maximum Ride).
And then, the years went by. I forgot about these adaptions. Until just last semester, when I accidentally picked up a graphic novel adaptation of Kindred by Octavia Butler. As I held that copy in my hands, a couple of things occurred to me:
- The library really only had one copy of Kindred, and it wasn’t even a normal copy.
- There was no way I was going to be able to keep up with the reading with this copy.
- Oh cool, a comic version of Kindred.
- If there’s a comic version of this book, what else is there a comic version of?
The answer to that last question wouldn’t come to me until this class, however. And, as far as I can see, the answer is “You name it, there’s probably a graphic novel adaptation for it.” The Odyssey, Beowulf, Pride and Prejudice; there are so many now that Barnes & Noble has a section dedicated to these adaptions on the website.
Because of this alarming number of graphic novel adaptations, I’ve found myself going back to the same question I was asking myself as a young nerd standing in the Manga section: Why do these adaptions exist? And now, I have a new answer. Then, I figured it was a money scheme. Resell a new edition of the most popular best-seller, and the fans will come. However, now I believe that it’s more about finding new ways to tell a story. The worlds of these stories can be expanded with the visual aspect of graphic novels. I think the point of these adaptations is to pull the reader in further, in a way that a normal novel might not be able to.
Or, shoot, maybe they are just a money-grab. Who knows? All I know is that I still don’t think Maximum Ride deserved its graphic novel.
PS: If you want to look at that Deadpool thing, here’s the link.