The Great Gatsby: A Graphic Novel Adaptation by K. Woodman-Maynard: A Review

The Great Gatsby K Woodman Maynard

The Great Gatsby: A Graphic Novel Adaptation by K. Woodman-Maynard
Based on the novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Graphic Novel | Classics | Literary Fiction
Published by Candlewick Press
Publication Date: January 5th, 2021
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_4_and_a_half_stars

Adapting a classic and beloved novel into a graphic novel is no easy task, but K. Woodman-Maynard has done a fantastic job of adapting F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. 

K Woodman-Maynard
K. Woodman-Maynard

The Great Gatsby is one of my favorite books of all time, so I went into this adaptation a little skeptical but wanting to love it. I needn’t have worried though – K. Woodman-Maynard stuck to the roots of the story while making it accessible to a new (and old) audience.

The ARC I received from the publisher was in black and white, but the finished version, set to be released in early January 2021, will be in full color. I actually loved the black and white artwork, but I am eager to see the full-color version! The art is simple and fits this medium perfectly, and also manages to grasp the feelings of extravagance and yearning of the original story.

Great Gastby
Colored preview courtesy of Amazon and the publisher

While it’s impossible to adapt a novel such as The Great Gatsby without leaving some elements of the original story out, Woodman-Maynard kept all the important bits and everything needed to create the same atmosphere and themes of the original. I wouldn’t call The Great Gatsby a difficult classic novel by any means, but I remember not really “getting it” in high school – this may have been a much better medium for me to be introduced to the story.

There’s no substitute for the original F. Scott Fitzgerald novel – there never will be. It’s one of the Great American Novels for a reason and I encourage you to read it if you never have. If it’s a story that you love, however, or if you find the original novel uninteresting (a concept I can’t understand!), picking up K. Woodman-Maynard’s adaptation is an absolute must.

You can tell when a writer and artist loves the story that they’re working on, and Woodman-Maynard’s love of The Great Gatsby shines through clearly in her work.

Thank you Candlewick Press for the free advanced copy for review.




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Tonoharu by Lars Martinson – A Review

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Tonoharu by Lars Martinson
Graphic Novel
Goodreads | Amazon
Published by Pliant Press
Released May 1, 2008
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_3_stars

Whenever I’m at my local library, I always try to search out a couple of books I’ve never heard of before to check out. I’ll walk down random aisles, grabbing books off the shelf until I find something that sounds interesting. Tonoharu by Lars Martinson was one of those books for me.

I was near the graphic novel aisle looking for some Neil Gaiman titles when I randomly picked this one up. The synopsis on the back details the story of Daniel Wells, an American who travels to Japan to become an assistant junior high school teacher in a rural community. The story is about Daniel’s loneliness in a culture where he barely speaks the language.

The aspect of this graphic novel that I enjoyed the most was the art. Done in black and white, it’s incredibly appropriate for the story and is entertaining to look at. I’m always impressed by artists who can portray emotions on drawn faces so simply, and Martinson is definitely gifted in that department. I also liked the simple layout of the book.

Daniel’s story showed how isolating a language barrier can be, and also how hard it can be to settle into a new city. Even without a different language to tackle, moving to a place where you don’t know anyone is daunting and the struggle of making new friends as an adult is very difficult (I’m speaking from experience here). It’s refreshing to see a writer/artist tackle that topic.

I found myself wanting more from the story, however, and the reason I’m rating this graphic novel three stars is that I never felt connected to the characters or cared that much about them. The book is short and a quick read, so perhaps if it had been longer it would have been easier to connect with Daniel. When I don’t feel that connection with the main character, I find that I quickly forget the plot and find myself not wanting to ever come back to the story. There is a sequel to Tonoharu, but I won’t be reading it.

I would like to stress that Tonoharu is a well-made graphic novel and I would recommend it to people wanting something different, but I just wished there had been more to it.

 

The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch by Neil Gaiman – A Review

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The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch
Written by Neil Gaiman
Art by Michael Zulli
Graphic Novel
Goodreads
Released April 1, 2008
Published by Dark Horse Books
Purchase: Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_2_stars

I had never heard of this Neil Gaiman graphic novel until I came across it while perusing the comic book shelves at my local library. As I’ve mentioned so many times on this blog, I love Neil Gaiman’s writing, so I added it to my pile without looking at the synopsis or anything else.

The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch is about a group of four people, including Miss Finch, who go to an urban underground circus together. A lot of bizarre things happen, and the acts of the circus are all over the place – from flying ghostly apparitions to a man hanging from the ceiling by his nipples to a guy in a fish costume motorcycling around the audience. Miss Finch disappears, and we’re left wondering what happened to her.

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While this was an interesting graphic novel, it wasn’t one of my favorite Neil Gaiman works. It was difficult for me to get past how much I disliked the art. It wasn’t that the art was bad, it was just of a style that I personally don’t enjoy in comics or graphic novels. It was a little rough around the edges and had a watercolor quality to it. Again, I think the art is good and does seem to work for the story, I just wasn’t a fan of it.

My favorite books or stories are the type that leaves you guessing and thinking about it even after you close the book. This is not one of those. While the story was entertaining, after I finished it I found that I stopped thinking about it after setting it down. I didn’t realize this at the time I read it, but apparently, this is a graphic novel adaptation of one of Gaiman’s short stories. I feel that I may have appreciated it more in story format. The graphic novel format felt too short and rushed.

This was by no means a terrible graphic novel or story, and it was mildly entertaining, but it just wasn’t for me. I definitely favor Neil Gaiman’s novels more than his graphic novels. I’ve read three of them, and none of them lived up to my expectations.


Have you read The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch? What did you think?