MARTHA THOMASES: Dragon Tattoo – Why A Graphic Novel?
Vertigo is slated to publish the graphic novel adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s [[[The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo]]]. The Swedish series has sold tens of millions of copies in dozens of languages. There are already Swedish movies based on the books, and the first of the American films is to be released later this year.
Why do we need a graphic novel?
The books are terrific. They take you inside the lives of computer hackers, crusading journalists and evil authority figures, with a glimpse of Swedish social mores and political intrigue. Larsson is an ardent feminist, a refreshing perspective on the bestseller lists.
I haven’t seen the movies, but people whose opinions I respect like them a lot. The American version is directed by David Fincher, of Fight Club and The Social Network.
Why do we need a graphic novel? What will it show us that we didn’t see in these other media?
There are stories I would like to see adapted. Bunches.
- Angels in America, by Tony Kushner, with its leaps across times and across realities, is a natural. I have always imagined Phil Jimenez and Howard Cruse doing the art.
- Norman Mailer’s Ancient Evenings, for the battle scene where the Pharaoh walks across the field, accompanied by lions who snatch gory snacks from the dead and wounded.
- The Ghost of Tom Joad by Bruce Springsteen, as a series of inter-connected short stories, each with a different artist.
There are writers I would like to see work in comics because their prose suggests they know how to work with visual artists: Will Self, Patti Smith, Don Dellilo. They may not actually be any good at the form – they may need their words – but I would like to see them try.
But a book that has already been a great movie? That I don’t so much need. Gone With the Wind? The Maltese Falcon? What are they going to show me that I haven’t already seen?
That’s the challenge Vertigo has ahead of themselves. I hope they prove me wrong.
SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman