Author: Stephanie Meyer
Manhwa-ga: Young Kim
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Teen (13+)
Release Date: March 2010
Synopsis: “When Isabella Swan moves to the gloomy town of Forks and meets the mysterious, alluring Edward Cullen, her life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. With his porcelain skin, golden eyes, mesmerizing voice, and supernatural gifts, Edward is both irresistible and impenetrable. Up until now, he has managed to keep his true identity hidden, but Bella is determined to uncover his dark secret…”
Twilight: a multi-million dollar investment in the frothing hearts of fan girls around the world. Many have read the original novel series and infinitely more have at least heard of it. With the live-action films already taking their crack at adapting these popular novels, it’s now the comic world’s time to have a go with Stephanie Meyer holding tight on the reigns.
Upfront, I am not a Twilight fan- quite the opposite after reading the first book. With exception of course to seeing so many young readers enthusiastically cracking open a book – a frenzy clearly not seen since the still-recent days of Harry Potter. This I like, even if what they’re reading leaves something to be desired. But, I’m open to exploring new things, and even though a transformation of something I loathe into something I like certainly wasn’t any expected (or achieved) effect, I was still eager to dive in and see what kind of rebirth Hachette and Young Kim have put together. Note: I’ll be mentioning story elements in a manner that could be spoilers to those not familiar with the plot.
Isabella “Bella” Swan is a young teenager facing her first day at a new school in a new town. Woefully self-aware of her own social inadequacies as so many others her age, Bella walks through the doors of her new life with advance disappointment in mind. Soon things start to look a bit more interesting when she sees the Cullen family for the first time, an assortment of pale and pretty teenagers seemingly in a world of their own. Equally interested in her in a fist-clenching, cold-stare, ulterior-motive kind of way, is Edward Cullens. After he rescues her from a slide-away car, she becomes near obsessed with the idea of finding out the truth about him.
Bella and Edward’s foray into romance proves much more tolerable in graphic novel form. Gone are the long-winded descriptive paragraphs that often sacrificed sense for style and, stripped bare of some pointless in-between scenes, the remaining banter actually manages to be pretty grounded and entertaining in these tailored doses. Being told from Bella’s perspective still makes the story feel far too self-indulgent though and there’s an overwhelming sense of woe-is-me that makes it hard to feel attached to her. Edward manages to be the more compelling of the two for the majority of the story, up until he begins his venture into creepy-stalker-with-a-fetish-for-freaking-out-Bella mode anyway. This graphic novel ends part way through the first Twilight novel, so there’s more snark and less stalk in this book than you’re guaranteed to find in the next (ie: this book has the part of the story that is considerably less skeevy than that to follow).
And because it must be mentioned, when Edward’s horrible sunlight curse is revealed, it’s still as awkwardly terrible and hysterically laughable as ever before. Seriously, I don’t get it – it remains an uneven, only-relevant-when-convenient ailment that lacks any of the drama required for the subsequent “I don’t want you to be afraid of me” speech. But now you get to read it in snazzy full-page transition so I guess that’s something.
A recurrent thought by many has been what kind of ‘role model’ this book will play to a potentially endless sea of readers who’re new to the medium. Will enjoying Twilight the Graphic Novel inspire a try-out of other comics? Of course it’s a possibility though I’m not sure how I’d rate Twilight as an introduction to the concept – not bad but certainly not groundbreaking.
Manga and manhwa titles have been the assumed-choice of where these prospective new readers could flock but this book holds the distinction of being called (and titled) a graphic novel over a manga for a variety of reasons, past smart thinking to avoid the mess of what constitutes ‘real’ manga. Twilight isn’t as comparable to manga as one may think it would’ve been.
Young Kim’s art is an interesting blend of manga/manhwa styled paneling and a distinctly realism-based rendered cast of characters. Everyone’s still overly prettified for the story of course -and no they don’t look like the movie actors- but with a distinctly true-to-life appeal they’re likely to appease those who thought that as a ‘manga’ the book may be too childish or cartoony looking otherwise. What perhaps looks the most different though would the use of soft-edged grayscale over screen toning for shadows and definition, a technique however which is used just as rampantly – for better or worse – as shoujo manga when slathering on the sparkles.
The book itself is a hard cover linen-bound book with a glossy slipcover. In the interior, each page is printed on glossy paper akin to what American comic books are printed on – though notably a tad thicker. The book is predominantly black and white but does utilize its higher quality printing to effect when it decides to sneak in a little something extra. The lettering, which earned itself some ire before the book’s publication, isn’t much better seeing in full form – utilizing a Times Roman font with bubbles that constantly cover over the artwork in a terribly awkward fashion. Little black streaks are used as bubble-tails that look like someone forgot to Photoshop-out eyelashes that fell on the scanner. The lettering doesn’t hamper the reading at least, it’s just unattractive. Those new to comics likely won’t notice though. Comic-veterans however (or worse off those who actually do lettering), will find it cringe worthy on more than a few occasions.
The Twilight Graphic Novel proves itself a winner in most intended regards – it’s notably more tolerable than the book on which it’s based but should still please those who are fans of the original. Though with it’s share of expected flaws, one must give this book a good proverbial pat on the back for a job generally well done – now go sell a million copies, Twilight, and ensure the bookshelves stay ripe with the fruits of your fanaticism.