Adapted by Mariah McCourt
Art by Renae DeLiz and Ray Dillon
For any readers of this blog, its a well-known fact that I'm a huge fan of Anne Rice, and also a fan of comic books as well. I'm more than happy to combine both obsessions, and bring you a review of the recent comic book adaptation of one of Anne Rice's lesser known, though equally stellar work: Servant of the Bones. Ever since the first volume of this fantastic adaptation was published, I've heard very little discussion or reactions to the comic book. Puzzlingly, I was even unable to find it at a local comic book store, which further substantiated my belief that this comic book really was not very popular. In general, having comic book adaptations of Anne Rice's novels is not a novel concept. Other Anne Rice books such as The Vampire Lestat, The Witching Hour,and The Mummy have been adapted into comic books. Eventually , Christ the Lord: Road to Cana (from Sea Lion books) and Ashley Witter's exclusive, Interview with the Vampire- inspired manga graphic novel about Claudia will both soon be made into comic books.
I don't particularly like The Vampire Lestat comic books, which I had bought off Ebay, because of the somber mood of the pictures and the way that the characters are drawn in a bizarre, languid way. Personally, I felt that the drawings should exude a bit more bombastic emotion because that would have far more appropriate for a comic adaptation of an Anne Rice novel. In many ways, the art suits a Rembrandt painting, which Anne Rice has compared the physical traits of some her characters to in novels like The Tale of the Body Thief,Blood and Gold, and The Witching Hour. At the same time, those were only a few key characters or a few minor expressions that really matched those utilized in a Rembrandt painting. Where was the vivid color, the wide range of expression, a bit less dolefulness and more animation? Descriptions in Anne Rice's books are not exceedingly laconic; they actually have some ambiance and some life to them. I think the Gothic tag is a misnomer anyways; they have a Gothic mood, but not in the generic way that we define "Gothic style." I'd rather go with the fact that Anne Rice's books have dramatic flair, fitting more with nineteenth century Gothic novels, and not the dull Gothic style of nineties/early millennium "Hot Topic."
|The vibrant colors in this color for example, are ever-present in this comic book.|
One of the only minor issues with this comic book that I've seen is that some of the dialogue in the comic book feels a bit rushed, and some of the important exposition-related details appear muddled as a result. It is hard to condense a 400 paged novel, filled with a great array of historical details;therefore, I do think Mariah McCourt, as the writer of the dialogue, had a very challenging task indeed. Creating a comic book that pays homage to the source material that is rather dense seems nearly impossible. While there were points of the comic book that were a bit more polished in the novel itself, the dialogue is still very well-written and along with the art, it still manages to give you the same rich experience as reading the novel. The comic book does not pale in comparison with the book, and its not a mediocre adaptation like The Vampire Lestat comics. In my view, this particular graphic novel adaptation achieved the impossible for me because it succeeded in nearly matching my great experience when reading the novel.
As with the book, this comic book also respectfully shows the tenacity of the Jewish community and the richness of their culture. Its a shame that my Christian upbringing often made Judaism appear as a predecessor to the supposed superior religion of Christianity (We were even taught the odious idea that Jews are responsible for Jesus' death, plus all Jews are cosigned to hell. In this gross misconstruction of scripture,Christians supposedly have a special mission to keep Jews from being "Jewish..." I'll stop now before I offend someone, but this really bothers me...) More importantly, I was always given a rather Ethnocentric view of the Old Testament and Jewish history. It did not help that the Sunday School drawings of these people were not authentically Jewish, but Anglo-Saxon stand-ins. I have great love for this novel for striving to express Jewish history in a way that isn't so anti-Semitic. It gave me much more appreciation of their culture and religion. It was the first novel that really helped me to overcome the arrogant, dismissive attitude towards Judaism and Jewish Culture that this ethnocentric form of Christianity sought to equip me with. For me, this is one of my favorite of Anne Rice's because it has greatly reshaped my views, and helped to overcome bad culturally indoctrinated stereotypes. Anne Rice really earned my respect with this book, along with Feast of All Saints, for subverting many racial and ethnic stereotypes for both the African-American community and the Jewish community. Admirably, the drawing of the characters in this comic book reflects Anne Rice's reverence for Jewish culture, and appropriately illustrates the characters in a way that isn't stereotypical. Both the novel and the graphic novel are fine examples of the incredible way ethnocentrism can be eradicated with the help of a wonderfully entertaining, thought-provoking story. Of course, that is not the explicit purpose of the novel, neither is to examine our deepest existential questions, or just to give us a greater ability to discern the many layers of our lives. These are all unconscious aspects of a book that was clearly written to enrapture and wholly entertain us. I'm thankful that Mariah McCourt, Ray Dillon,Renae DeLiz, and others could help bring a story of such rich scope to the comic world! Please do more Anne Rice projects! I think all of you understand what makes her stories tick.
Hopefully, fans of the Vampire Chronicles will consider branching out a bit, and read both the novel and the graphic novel!