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A change

January 3, 2009

No, I’m not going to move this blog to a 4th location.  And yeah, I went back to the old layout, but that’s not what I mean either.  (But if someone could give me code that would change the background color, I’d be thrilled.  All that gray, ugh.)  But the change I’m talking about in the title of the post is a change of, uh, media.  (I keep wanting to say venue.)  I actually went and finished those two graphic novels I talked about ages ago–you know, the ones based on books I didn’t like in the first place.

Here was my question, more or less: Would I enjoy some unenjoyable books if they were in graphic novel form rather than novel form?  Specifically, I’m referring to Stephen King’s Dark Tower series and Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series.  After all, there are times when I’ve said “I’d like this book better as a TV series/movie” or “I think I’d like this comic better as a novel.”  Well, I THINK I’ve said that second one.  So yeah: Are these books more enjoyable to me as graphic novels?

The short answer, unsurprisingly, is no.  I read The Gunslinger Born and Guilty Pleasures Volume 1, and neither made me want to rush out and read the books, or grab more comics.

I’m almost sad to admit it.  I was hoping for something a little less…obvious.  “Why yes, I’m such a huge fan now!”  That would’ve surprised you, wouldn’t it?  But I’ve got nothin’.

Well, that’s not true.  I have a lot of dislike.

I can’t actually tell you how much of the first Dark Tower book I made it through.  I’m going to go out on a very thick limb here and say “not much.”  It was a long, long time ago when I was past my read-everything-Stephen-King-wrote phase.  I’m not a Western lover.  I like my Westerns in space, really, generally wearing brown coats rather than black or white hats.  My foray into fantasy started at Piers Anthony and ended at…Piers Anthony.  No wait: Dragonlance.  So a fantasy Western wasn’t something I was going to get into at that point in my life.  But hey, it was there, someone suggested it to me, and so I picked it up.  Didn’t make it far.  But I decided to give it a second change with the graphic novel.  Maybe with the art, it would be easier for me to get into the story, and it was telling the story chronologically.  Chronologically!  This could work.  Maybe the graphic novel version would be simpler, pared down, more interesting.

Uh, no.  Well, maybe simpler and pared down, but definitely not INTERESTING, except if by interesting you mean this:

First I was…

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Then I was like…

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As my friend Jen recently said, “Life’s too short to read bad books.”  In my case, it’s “Life’s too short to read more than one bad book in a series, so long as the book’s REALLY short and you can get a blog post out of it.”  This book is…appalling, really, if you’re a woman.  In it or reading it.  It’s all WHORES WHORES WHORES.  You’d think it was written by Frank Miller.  First woman you see: cheating wife.  Second woman you see: literal whore.  Third woman you see: a crone, in every sense of the word, except that she’s, you know, dried up.  It’s like they can’t talk enough about how dried up she is.  And we’re not talking metaphor, because there isn’t much metaphor to go around for these women.

Then you have Susan.  Susan’s being set up by her slut aunt to be a whore.  Yeah, it hurts me to say these things too, but that’s what the book’s saying.  Susan’s going to be the, oh, let’s say concubine to the mayor so he can have an heir, because his wife is–say it with me now–dried up.  Susan immediately falls for our Super Awesome Main Character, Roland (the aforementioned gunslinger), and gets knocked up by him–which I GUESS might fit into the timeline, but the comic makes it really difficult to believe that.  THINGS ARE REALLY REALLY TENSE BETWEEN OUR MAIN CHARACTERS AND THE BADDY BAD GUYS.  HOWEVER, WEEKS MUST BE PASSING DESPITE THIS BECAUSE SUSAN KNOWS SHE’S PREGNANT.

Either I’m taking a weird leap of continuity faith here, or Stephen King doesn’t know much ’bout birthin’ babies.

I’m lost.  Really.

What made it even worse for me is that I know people practically worship this series, and borrow its terminology, and some of those people are women.  It’s all “ka” this and “ka-tet” that and you know what?  I’m not going to air anyone’s dirty laundry on here, but I’m making some connections here that are really upsetting me.  Did the books come first, or did they just reinforce what she was already being told?  So depressing.

So yeah, forget that.  In the midst of some interesting stuff (could be the future! there’s a lot of dad-worship, what’s up with that? Roland does seem kind of cool, I guess, although he’s a jerk to his mother), there’s way too much woman-hate.  And I hear it ends weirdly.

Speaking of things getting worse as they go on, hi Anita Blake!  How are you?  You look so darn CUTESY in your comic book, and one would THINK that someone who fights vampires wouldn’t necessarily want her hair in her eyes all the time, but there you go!  In fact, more than one character has this problem.  It’s amazing that in the Anitaverse (or whatever), you get a little curl right in the middle of your forehead if you’ve got long curly hair!  Maybe it’s a metaphor.

So what did I dislike about Anita Blake?  Eh.  What should feel like world building feels like a huge dump of characters at once.  A lot of the vamps look pretty Eurotrashy, as does Phillip, that guy that’s there to, uh, do something.  Flirt.  I dunno, knowing that the series eventually devolves into vamp & werewolf orgies (hey, I repeat what I’ve heard!) makes me biased toward everything that’s going on now.  So alllllll those male characters being presented to me?  Just seem like potential orgy-mates.

I didn’t really hate Guilty Pleasures, the novel.  I just didn’t care enough to go on, especially considering the rumors that it gets ever more pornoriffic as it goes on.  And more guy-on-guy, which as we all know is not my thing.  (Do we all know?  I’m fairly sure I’ve mentioned it.  Maybe a lot.)  Hearing about how it’s all about the manlove later on makes me irritated about the biphobic moment Anita has late in the graphic novel.  Okay, she’s straight.  No big deal.  But does she have to be all…I don’t know, it just bothered me.  I think we could capitalize, bold, and italicize the word BIAS by now.  In lolcat, “I has it.”  But I think reading the graphic novel version just gave me MORE to nitpick.  I mean, I’m sorry, but if you’re going to hide a girl’s gun under a big shirt, you may not want to make that shirt so tight I can practically see the outline of her abs.  Unless she changes into another ridiculously long penguin shirt at some point–and I suppose that’s possible, since my lack of caring means I could’ve skipped over stuff accidentally in a rush to OMG GET TO THE END–that thing shrinks with every scene she’s in.

To summarize: Maybe somewhere there’s a graphic novel version of a novel that’s so amazing, I’m going to adore it despite disliking the novel.

That hasn’t happened yet.

Tomorrow: I’m going to the water park with my daughter and some friends, but I’m going to keep taking those Vampire Diaries notes.  Maybe if we don’t hang out too late, I’ll get a post up.  By Monday at the latest, though.  Oooh, part 4.  I know you’re getting tingly in all your nostalgic parts.

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