cbr12bingo The Roaring 20’s
The Roaring 20’s probably would not be the Roaring 20’s if not for The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I am not going to go all English Lit on you and say the meaning of the story but will tell you it is about several 20-to 30-something rich, spoiled, brats (editorial comment) and their boredom. You can say that our narrator is unreliable, judgmental, the whole works. Or not. But in the end, what it is all about is people putting on airs and letting the chips fall wherever. Maybe someone pays for their crimes. Maybe not. But in the end, you have read something that can be considered “out there” (I mean are these people for real? And sadly, yes, I think they are) and hopefully it makes you think. Even if you only wonder if the child of Daisy’s might be Gatsby’s. (I think the timing is off, but considering the second book in this review, it wouldn’t be unheard of). And why does the child ask for her father? Or what is the point of bringing up Tom’s racism? (Jordan points out in one version “we’re all white here,” And, unfortunately, in 1925 would anyone disagree with Tom?)
And regardless if you love it or hate it, The Great Gatsby has lasted. It has entertained us with movies; it has started debates and recently it has inspired two different graphic novel adaptations. The first is by Fred Fordham. The official title is The Great Gatsby: The Graphic Novel. And Aya Morton has delighted us with their illustrations. And Fitzgerald’s’ granddaughter has an introduction as well. The second version (due in early January 2021) is a more fantastical creation by K. Woodman-Maynard (the author and illustrator).
Fordham’s story is as close to Fitzgerald’s as you could probably get. In fact, I would not be surprised if whole sections are word-for-word (since the second book seems to confirm this). But it is the gorgeous illustrations of Morton that makes this book a delight. The modern and art deco combination allows the story to unfold. I remembered more than I thought I did of the story (such as the end, which I had forgotten until I started reading), but not enough to intelligently talk about it. These illustrations combined with the text brought it all home. The color is used to make important points as color is its own character. It is used to make you stop and look. To see the details or lack thereof. To see what is highlighted. Everything is deliberately done to create a story that you feel. As much as I am not a Daisy fan, I wanted to be her as she danced in Gatsby’s arms the night of the party. The image was that downright romantic and to be dramatic, you could smell the lust in the air.
Now, we get to Woodman-Maynard’s version, The Great Gatsby: A Graphic Novel Adaptation This is a more fantastic version of the story, with more modernized text (though does use the same phrases as the first book, so not everything is adapted to fit the modern reader) and, unlike the first that seems to get to all corners of the original story, this hits more of the highlights. Woodman-Maynard also took the story out of order to help with her flow of the graphic novel. They are a huge fan of the book, therefore, this was less to “improve it” but to make her version unique to her style and needs. In many ways, I do not know if this version is as good as the other, but it is for sure a thoughtful approach. One needs to read the authors afterwards as well, which explains the process. The biggest differences are how the art is set up. As this was a reader copy, the art is not completed. What I saw of the colored art means they will be lovely. But the colors do not seem as rich as the first book. The same scene that made me want to be Daisy, did not invoke the same passion. Yet, I still did feel it. This is due to the fact she makes certain areas of the book almost literal but fantasy based. Daisy and Jay’s scenes are flowery and romantic. She has the actress as a literal flower with a human face. The scene of Daisy and Jordan on the couch has them literally flying over it. Another issue with the art that can throw someone off is the text is embedded in the illustrations. It is not just thought bubbles, but (one example) the thoughts of Nick are placed on the shadow of Tom. The interpretations of what people look like such as Daisy and Jordan look similar to the first version, but Mrs. Wilson is radically different looking. Tom also is different, more boxed and squarer. Almost cartoon villain. The interpretation of Wolfsheim is also very different (Fordham has him a bumbling old, fop; Woodman-Maynard’s while trying to stay away from the Jewish stereotype, makes him more sinister and frankly a stereotype). Fordham’s version is more romantic and less “rough” looking. These are physically pretty people. Whereas Woodman-Maynard’s is romantic and less realistic in many ways. They want you to know their interpretations of the characters personality through their physical looks.
One large difference between the two graphic novel versions is in Woodman-Maynard’s version, when Jay is talking to Nick about his affair with Daisy before the War, he makes it all too clean he and Daisy had sex. You even see this act in a “side view” (hands in a stereotypical “over the head but cannot see the rest of the body” position) I never got that impression from Fordham. That’s not to say it was not there, but I just did not see it as obviously.
Overall, I think people should read both versions of this book, just maybe not back-to-back Like I did. If you want to be introduced to The Great Gatsby Fordham’s is the way to go (perhaps this is due to his history of adapting novels into graphic novels). If you want to add to your knowledge and/or love of the book, either works.