Review Blog

Jun 30 2010

Graphic Dickens series

cover image

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. Evans Brothers, 2009.
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. Evans Brothers, 2009.
(Age 10+) Most of the well known characters remain in this abbreviated, graphic version of Dickens's well known and loved tale of an orphan boy finding a home, Oliver Twist. All of his hardships are well created, his beginning at a workhouse, his mother's death as a result of his birth, to the workhouse where he famously asks for more food, then on to the coffin makers and to Fagan's hidden den in London. The story is enticing, a young boy pitting himself against the brutality of early nineteenth century London, alone and bereft of support. All of the squalor of London at this time is shown, the chimney sweep, the abuse of young children, the heartless courts and the criminals who prey upon the young, seeing a chance for a young body to squeeze through small windows so they can steal.
In graphic novel form, the story has been shortened and so some of the background figures are not there, but those that are recreate the story well. Readers will love the Bumbles, the meanness of Monks, the innocence of Mr Brownlow and the simple good heartedness of Oliver's aunt. Each of the characters has recognisable qualities, shown not only in the spare dialogue, but the illustrations. The artistry has movement and flare which will have great appeal to the young audience it is aimed at. This graphic series will give the tales of Dickens a new readership
So too, with Great Expectations, the graphic form will entice a new audience to this well known tale of a poor boy expecting a considerable monetary favour from a benefactor, but realizing that he has pinned his hopes on the wrong person. The poverty, transportation system, courts and police system at work in 19th century England all are exposed by Dickens in this tale. I devoured the classics in comic form during the 50's and this new series, published by Evans Brothers will easily find a home.
Fran Knight

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