Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Odyssey Graphic Novel

Those who have followed Bubo's Blog for any length of time know that I love a good comic book.  I especially love a good comic book with mythological allusions.  That's why it pains me to give this review for The Odyssey graphic novel by Gareth Hinds.

It pains me because I just do not like it.  It is not that it doesn't have good information. It's not that it changes the story to where it can't be used in class.  It is because I do not like the art.  I do not like the word type.  I also do not like the amount of words in each panel.  Hinds both writes and draws the book as far as I can tell.  This is usually a bad combo.  A graphic novel writer must do more than put words on a page.  He/she must know how to put the words.  One of the benefits of the graphic novel format is that the picture tells the story as much as the words.  The words are there for what the picture cannot convey and the picture is there for what the words cannot tell.  Without this distinction, all you have is an illustrated story.  With that in mind, look at a page I scanned below:

It reads much too slowly with all the long speech bubbles.  Whoever did the word balloons should have at least used multiple bubbles to break it up.  As it is, it feels like reading prose without paragraph breaks.  Gareth Hinds writes and draws graphic novels for several classics.  My thought is this.  He has gained some success in this market because schools are eager to bring in  more graphic novels and feel that they can justify the money expenditure if the graphic novel is a classic.  Thus, they don't read them themselves, they just put them on the shelves.

Hinds does take a full 248 pages to tell his tale, so there is a lot of story here.  One of my students, however, does not share my dislike of this graphic novel.  He was excited when he found this in our school library and gave it to me to read as soon as he finished.  Since he was so excited, I guess it has potential for its intended audience.  

Now, if you'd like to know what a graphic novel can be, I suggest that you check out The Pride of Baghdad at your local library.  It is not mythological in nature, but it is an excellent blending of word and image.

Since my student did like it, I'll raise my rating from 2 lightning bolts to 3 lightning bolts.

You can buy this book at Amazon.