Sometimes books are just meant for their original medium. That’s not to say that some stories can’t jump from one method of story telling to the next – I just think that adapting a novel to a small graphic novel is many times the equivalent of making A Princess of Mars into a viable movie (i.e. very difficult to pull off).
Redwall is no exception to this. While I enjoyed reading this little book I felt that there were large gaps in both the story and the heroic adventure. I’ve never read the novels but having heard such great things about them from friends I’m going to give Brain Jacques the benefit of the doubt. The story is coherent enough, there just seems to be something missing – mostly the time it takes to build up characters you can more easily empathize with. Most of the characters, including the main one, seemed two-dimensional to me.
The art is alright I suppose. I think they put too much stock in wanting the mice to have human expressions (as many times they really don’t look like mice at all). The villains were very well done though, and if you like that newspaper comic strip type feel the art is adequate. I just felt that it didn’t help the story much; they should have probably gone with something simpler.
I really like the character of Warbeak (I like him better than Matthias, the main character). The sparrow language was highly entertaining and I enjoyed the character interaction between Warbeak, his mother and Matthias.
Overall I feel this graphic novel does not stand well on its own. Perhaps someone who has read the novel it was based on would get more out if it. In the end this is a simplistic kind of children’s book whereas I have the feeling that the novel was geared towards a wider audience. Sometimes these adaptations just don’t work out. Perhaps it will be enough to encourage people to go out and read Jacques’ books and then it will have served some sort of purpose. I think we should just illustrate some novels in the Frank Frazetta/Princess of Mars style and stop attempting to cram and entire novel into one small comic book (Anita Blake, Last of the Mohicans, etc).