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Saturday, March 8, 2014

Ransom Riggs: "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children: The Graphic Novel"

Title:  Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children: The Graphic Novel   
Story:  Ransom Riggs
Art:  Cassandra Jean
Lettering: JuYoun Lee and Stephanie Lee
Plot Type:  Light Urban Fantasy UF     
Ratings:  Violence3; Sensuality2; Humor—3 
Publisher:  Hachette (2/2014)  

     This graphic novel is based on the print novel by Ransom Riggs. Click HERE to read my review of the print novel, which includes an overview of the world-building and a summary of the plot. This post will focus on a comparison of the print book and the graphic novel and on an analysis of the artwork.  

            WORLD-BUILDING AND PLOT SUMMARY:            
Close-up of Jacob
and Miss Peregrine
from the cover
     Just a brief summary: The lead character is young Jacob Portman, who has spent his childhood among in a suburban American home. Jacob's grandfather has always told him fantastical stories about the peculiar children he left behind in an orphanage on a tiny island off the coast of Wales when he came to America after World War II. As Jacob grows older, he realizes that the stories are fairy tales, even though Grandpa has a stack of strange photographs of children doing weirdly magical things (for example, lifting impossibly heavy objects, floating in the air, being covered with bees, being invisible). 

     When Grandpa is brutally murdered, Jacob finds his body and sees a monster in the near-by bushes. When he tries to tell his parents and the authorities what he saw, they send him to a psychiatrist. But Jacob is determined to carry out his grandfather's last wishes: "Find the bird. In the loop on the other side of the old man's grave."even though he has no idea what that means. The story follows Jacob on his journey as he fulfills his grandfather's wish and finds himself in the middle of a magical place he never dreamed could truly exist. He meets some new friends, finds out that he is just as peculiar as they are, and makes a decision that changes his life. 

     If you are enchanted with Riggs' peculiar world, click HERE to go to the Peculiar Children Wiki for a wealth of information about this strange mythology. Click HERE to read my review of the second peculiar novel, Hollow City.   

            THE GRAPHIC NOVEL                
THE STORY: The story line sticks to the main plot of the print book, meaning that several minor characters and events are either omitted or diminished. The major difference is the lack of details about the children. The graphic novel is almost completely plot driven, whereas the print novel has a big dose of character development, introducing each of the peculiar children and allowing the reader to understand the eccentricities of their personalities. Of course, that's what happens in all graphic novels, because if you included every detail, the book would be the size of an unabridged dictionary. 

     If you want to get to know the personalities and peculiarities of the children, I recommend that you read the print novel (if possible, before reading the graphic novel). If you've already read the print novel, the graphic novel is a nice warm-up for book 2, Hollow City.

Jacob (top and 2nd from right) meets
some of the peculiar children for the 

first time: Olive, Hugh, & Enoch
THE ARTWORK: I enjoyed this book tremendously; first, because it's a great story, and second, because the artwork enhances that story so effectively. Cassandra Jean also did the artwork for the Beautiful Creatures graphic novel, among others.

     The illustrations show some manga influence, with many characters (particularly the villains) having typically almond-shaped faces, although most have more realistic eyes and normal hair colors. In another nod to manga, the artist effectively uses sets of three horizontal lines on Jacob's upper cheeks to emphasize that Jacob is in a state of shock, fear, and/or disbelief throughout much of the story. 

     The drawing style has a sketched-in feel, but each character has his or her unique and distinguishable features (even though the text does not include many details about their personalities). All in all, the drawings are a near perfect match with my own mental images. 

     The clothing mimics that which each character wears in the black and white photographs from the print novelall of which are included in the graphic novel. In the print novel, those photographs stand in sharp contrast from the text, but in the graphic novel, they recede into the background because the illustrated characters pop off the page with such bold colors and dramatic style. I read the print novel more than a year ago, so I had already seen the photographs. For that reason I tended to disregard them in the graphic novel because the bold artwork was much more compelling.

The German aircraft bombing
that climaxes each day in the loop
     Cassandra Jean's use of color is quite interesting and effective. For the most part (except for the very first scene), all scenes that take place in the real world of the 21st century are drawn in black and gray. In contrast, the scenes in which Jacob is inside the loop with the peculiar children are drawn in colors that vary in tone and hue depending on the emotional content of the scene. At left is one of the most colorful: the daily bombing that screams of danger. 

     Scenes of heavy emotion are immediately recognizable because they are colored in shades of dark blue. Intense dialogues (like the scene in which Miss Peregrine and Jacob first discuss his grandfather) are colored in somber blues and greens, lighter than those in the more overtly emotional scenes. The intense scene in which Jacob first meets Emma is colored in emotional purples with stark gold accents. Oranges and browns designate danger (for example, when Jacob has a stand-off with the villain in the story's big showdown scene at the and when Jacob and Emma share their first dangerous kiss). 

     A huge difference between the print novel and the graphic novel is that in the graphic novel we see exactly what the monsters look like. While the print novel provides photographs of all of the peculiar children, it forces our imaginations to create images of the monsters based on the author's descriptions. I have to admit that when I turned the page and saw the first graphic depiction of one of the monsters, my heart gave a little jump—he/it is quite scary, in a Cthulhu kind of way.     

An early page showing 
how the letterer fills 
in large blocks of
THE LETTERING: The letterers use two alternating placement styles for the text: within round or oval dialogue bubbles and in text-line sentences set horizontally between drawings. When world-building context is needed, the letterers print several paragraphs of world-building alongside one or more related illustrations (see the example at right). These big chunks of exposition do slow down the pace a bit, but there's no way to tell this story without an explanation of Riggs' mythology.   

LINKS TO MORE INFORMATION: Click HERE to read an excerpt from this graphic novel on its page. Just click on the cover art at top left. Several illustrations from the yet-to-be-published Hollow City graphic novel are included at the end of the Miss Peregrine... graphic novel.  

     Click HERE to view Riggs' excellent trailer for the print book on YouTube. Click HERE to watch a fascinating YouTube video Riggs took while he was putting together the print book trailer. It is entitled A Most Peculiar Trip: Searching for Miss Peregrine. The movie rights have been sold to 20th Century Fox, and Tim Burton is slated to direct (projected release date—7/31/15).

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