Author: Jen Ernst

Jen Marchese has a degree in Creative Writing from San Diego State and a dark scenester past.  She has worked as an editor, a stage manager, dabbled in the world of Marketing It girls, and sat on the Board of a couple theaters. But as fate would have it, her claim to fame seems to be as her alter ego, Jen Ernst --the Tweeks’ mom.  When not schlepping her daughters’ swag around con floors, driving them everywhere, or snarking over PTA politics, Jen’s usually binge watching questionably bad TV, reading the same couple Jane Austen books over and over again, playing tennis (omg, her backhand!), or trying to convince her husband – the long suffering, but still really good looking, Rob to take her on a vacation.

Review: Pride and Prejudice, the Graphic Novel

Pride & PrejudiceJane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice by Ian Edginton and Robert Deas. Self Made Hero, 144 pages. $19.95 retail hardcopy; also available in electronic editions.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that I’m a huge Jane Austen fangirl. I make no apologies. I made my husband take me to the Jane Austen museum in Bath for my 40th birthday. I own every version of every Jane Austen movie made – retellings too. As a matter of facet, I collect adaptations in every form from the sublime (The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, Bridget Jones, Clueless) to the abusively bad (Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict is currently in my car’s CD player right now, but I’m powering through because I am not a quitter.) I’ve read Pride and Prejudice annually since I was 19 – and it’s not even my favorite Austen novel (that would be Persuasion, which I also read once a year as well as listen to the ITV Classics podcast version before bed more than that).

Yeah, I’m kind of obsessed with wit and social politics in my period-costumed love stories. Though for some reason, I never thought of reading a comic version of one of Austen’s books. I guess I never imagined a need for one.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not as if I think Regency-period chick lit is too good for the graphic novel form. I’m a fan of the No Fear Shakespeare series, and don’t tell any of my professors, but I much preferred Marvel’s The Iliad and The Odyssey to studying the actual Homer texts. But while Jane Austen obviously proves to be ripe for pop culture appropriation, I just never figured her characters transferring well into panels. But Self Made Hero made graphic novel version of Pride and Prejudice, so I had to try.

The graphic novel version certainly gets points for the plot, but, of course, that’s residual credit for Miss Austen’s storytelling ability. Break it down as sophisticated (the plight of privileged single women, the importance of good parenting, and romance triumphing in spite of polite society) or base (girl thinks rich dude’s a pompous jerk, until she sees his really big house and he saves her ungrateful slut sister) it’s a compelling story that you have to finish once you start. So, in reviewing this I needed to try to take the Austen out of it.

It does stands up panel to panel and writer Ian Edginton (Star Wars, Star Trek, Alien, Scarlet Traces: The Great Game) did a fair enough job of truncating the story, but it was choppy. It follows our heroine, Elizabeth, and somewhat tracks her sister Jane, but some important story beats are cut. It’s debatable whether the omissions would cause confusion to a first time reader, but what I do know is that it does strip the original story of its flow. I had to ask myself on every page if I was only enjoying it because of my familiarity of the characters and the story. Seriously, how do you review a property you know so intimately and still be fair?

But, the thing is, this cannot have been made for fans of Jane Austen. In what would have been a really cool Dramatis Personae page Mary Bennet was labeled as the fourth oldest sister, when of course it’s Kitty who holds that spot. Drab Mary is clearly the third oldest. Duh. This sin, so early in the game, left me skeptical and I just couldn’t get past it – and trust me, I know I’m not alone.

This is a version for those who just don’t want to read a whole novel, but would like to understand their girlfriend’s Darcy references, or cover their bases for pub quiz night. I bet with the help of Wikipedia and maybe Thug Notes you could totally pull off passing an AP Exam question about Pride and Prejudice from reading this graphic novel.

That being said – I’m totally passing my copy onto my husband because he’s yet to read the real novel and he might like this. So, yes, I totally believe it has an audience. But, as I said, it’s not for the typical JA fan. Because, let’s face it, we live in age with some really hot Darcys (Colin Firth, for example) and no girl is going to get that same weak in the knees feeling for this cartoon Mr. Darcy. He’s stone-faced without the benefit of good eye acting (looking toward Firth on this note as well).

But don’t assume I’m not a fan of Robert Dreas’ (Troy Trailblazer) art work. The characters all seem a little angry, but I like the style. He nails Mrs. Bennet. She was my favorite character to study, while I find I gloss over her in the novel (because she’s hella annoying). I also found the realistic nature scenes fun. Yes, fun. I don’t think they added anything, but then again I don’t turn to graphic novels to set a scene I already have firmly planted in my head. I know what Pemberly looks like because I’ve already imagined it 24 times before and it looks just like the movies.

With this realization, I figured out why I love graphic novels and love Pride and Prejudice, but couldn’t love this graphic novel version of Pride and Prejudice. I turn to comics and graphic novels to take me to a specific world found in the words and pictures. I rely on the art and the story to unfold together to show me the author and artist’s combined vision. I don’t have to do anything, but enjoy the story as it unfolds. Having already seen a better version of this story, I can’t really care about the vision unfolding. I’ve had better previous visions, thanks.

Plus, Kitty Bennet is the fourth oldest sister, dammit!


Jen Ernst: Orphan Black at WonderCon Interviews Pt 3: Graeme Manson

In this final video, it’s time to chat with Orphan Black co-creator and writer Graeme Manson.  While, it took great restraint for me not to ask about his episode of Being Erica (possibly the best time travel show this side of Doctor Who), there were plenty of on-topic related questions to pose.  Like:  Will Sarah ever get to stop running? Or which characters are the most interesting to write for this season?  And how has the original plan the show deviated after the first two seasons?  Manson also gets a chance to speak about Donnie & Alison and clone dance parties. But I suggest watching him answer the questions closely. Perhaps, if you are as mental as I am, you’ll be able to suss out spoilers in his eyes.

Orphan Black returns at 9pm on April 18th to BBC America.

Jen Ernst: Orphan Black at WonderCon 2015 Interviews Pt. 2

According to Orphan Black’s Evelyne Brochu Season 3 (premiering April 18 at 9:00pm on BBC America), if the show were a spiral, this season would be getting closer to the center, moving at a faster pace, and creating more danger for the characters. “When you are in danger,” Brochu says, “you rise up to the challenge.”  This explains why Brochu and her fellow castmates Kristian Bruun (Donnie) and Dylan Bruce (Paul) showed so much excitement for the new season at WonderCon last weekend.  Bruun went as far to call it “the most action-packed season so far.” There were promises of darker storylines and more raw emotional story telling.   So, basically yea!  I’m also intrigued by what Brochu calls a “heartbreaking season” for her character, Delphine.  Heartbreaking in what way she wouldn’t say, so basically I’m already worrying about Cosima.

Of course, I expect to hear all kinds of buzzwords and hype from actors as they are doing PR for a project, but I believed them this time.  With Paul’s involvement in a more militaristic world, there’s going to obviously be more violence and intensity.  And while I’m okay with that —- a little bloodshed’s cool if it moves the plot along in painfully interesting way – I’m more excited about Bruun’s admission that we’ll be seeing deeper into Team Hendrix.  Yes, I do totally relate to the most suburban of the clones, but my favorite part of Orphan Black is the comic relief — that’s where Donnie & Alison excel. Bruun teased that Issue 3 of the IDW comics will explore the couple’s early relationship in college and then in the show itself we’ll get a glimpse into what they were like as newlyweds.

The interview video has all the deets – and you get to look at Brochu’s amazing hair.

Jen Ernst: Orphan Black at WonderCon Interview Pt.1

Orphan Black, BBC America’s addictive science and morals showdown series is back on April 18 at 9:00 ET.   Season Three throws Tatiana Maslany, in her gazillion (give or take) clone roles, into unexpected territory as they deal with the revelation of  a new line of militaristic male clones played by Ari Millen.  It also hopefully brings more sass and wit from more sassy Felix (the British-accented artist/rent boy foster brother we all wish we had.) And fingers crossed it will answer the questions plaguing me since last season ended. Now that Project Leda know they are not alone, what’s next?

There are a bunch of questions that need to be answered! Who survived? Where did they take Helena? Is she preggers?  Will Rachel will be rocking an eye patch? I can’t wait to see those play out.  But, what’s been plaguing me in the hiatus has been Mrs. S.  What’s her deal?  Who’s side is she on?  How pissed is Sarah going to be?  There’s something about Maria Doyle Kennedy’s portrayal of Mrs. S with her brand of harsh compassion that is so compelling.  Maybe I just have huge girl crush on MDK ever since The Commitments, IDK.

So, of course I was totally beside myself at Wondercon last Saturday when members of Orphan Black’s cast were on hand before their panel to give some insight on what’s to come.  And yes…Maria Kennedy Doyle was there.  And no, I didn’t fangirl out.

In this first video, Jordan Gavaris (Felix) and the lovely Maria Kennedy Doyle talk about their characters’ relationship, if we should trust them, and skillfully answer questions without getting spoiler-y.   Oh and yes, there is a Mr. S!