Not Really a Review

I really wanted to like this book.

I love graphics novels and I love Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series (the first three in particular), but I didn’t love this.

Aside from the illustrative quirks (which I’ll throw down below), the storyline was just a big hot mess. The concept here was that it was supposed to be Outlander (the first 1/3 of it,) told from Jamie’s perspective. There was so much potential here, given what we knew about his history…but the thing was, it wasn’t really told from his perspective, at least not entirely.

In fact, the execution of the book leaves a lot to be desired. Instead of a comprehensive story, we’re whisked away between chunks of the “good parts” of Outlander. Not to mention the addition of a subplot that did pretty much NOTHING involving another traveler between the stones.Which I guess is interesting on one level, but if the reader either wasn’t familiar with how graphic novels should work or hadn’t read Outlander, it would be mighty confusing. Hell, I’ve read Outlander several times and I couldn’t figure out wtf was going on from scene to scene sometimes (compounded by the fact that with the exception of Jamie with his red hair, most of the other men all pretty much looked the same. Had to go back several times to try to figure out who was who.)

That’s a bit of a failure on the artistic side. Graphic novels aren’t merely comic book pulp, but visual tellings of a story – a picture is worth a thousand words, after all –  but if a reader has to look at it too hard to find out what’s going on, then it’s not a very good graphic novel, IMHO.

Now, I did read some of the comments on Amazon and a lot of buyers didn’t know what a graphic novel was and were pissed that they had plunked down $25 for something that was “for kids.” There were also some people peeved that all the people looked Asian. Now, the artist is Asian, but I don’t think I would have pegged the book as having an Asian flare if people hadn’t been bitching about it. (And maybe that’s just because I’ve read so much manga that I tend not to notice stuff like that anymore. It is what it is and that may just be that artist’s style.)

Now, what I will say is that the art as a whole was pretty inconsistent. The landscapes were great, but the characters? Meh.

It’s been said that Diana has often pegged model Gabriel Aubry as a sort of character model for Jamie. And clearly the artist went with that, at least in the beginning:

And yeah, he’s hot as balls…but not particularly Scottish looking, though I wouldn’t toss him out of bed for eating bacon either. 
And here’s the initial artist interpretation: –> 
So you can see there’s quite a bit of similarity there. But it doesn’t stay. Jamie’s eyes are supposed to be blue, but in half the panels they’re showing up brown, for example – and that’s just sloppy.
Plus he seems to get younger as the story goes along. Here’s a shot of Jamie and Claire at their wedding. It’s like he’s 15 now, or something.
And speaking of Claire…
She starts out pretty lovely – but the facial expressions through most of the book are so bizarre and cartoony that I just couldn’t take most of her panels seriously at all. 
Not to mention the massive amounts of boobage. 
I mean, sure I get that Claire is attractive, but I don’t remember Jamie ever commenting on anything other than how awesome her arse was. 
<– WTF is this? Her breasts are larger than her head. 
So yeah. I really wanted to like this. I may still pick up the next volume if there is one, simply to have the set, but overall this was a major disappointment.
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9 Responses to Not Really a Review

  1. Simon says:

    I'm thinking if someone was eating bacon in bed, and getting little bacon crumbs all up in the sheets, you'd wake up absolutely ravenous. Aw, crap. Now I'm craving bacon something fierce. Thanks for that.


  2. Danette says:

    So it's back to Nawriblomo! I'm looking forward to trying to keeping up on things– trying being the operative word there. I generally do it and haven't made a firm commitment but thought I would check out some other blogs today… 
    And while I'm here– I have not yet seen the Graphic Novel of Outlander and once I started reading your review my immediate reaction was "WTF was Diana Gabaldon thinking? Has she lost her mind? Is she trying to prove she can adapt it to the big screen?" I don't get it and the book is NOT for kids and shouldn't be adapted for kids! Maybe she just wants to try and milk this cow for all the money she can get. I don't know but I think I will avoid this one.   

  3. katiebabs says:

    They also skipped over Jamie's rape, which is so very important to the book and the series.

  4. mynfel says:

    Well, the thing is Graphic Novels aren't for kids, most of the time. DG wasn't marketing to children at all – I was just commenting that a lot of people had the knee jerk reaction of seeing that it was comic and assumed it was for kids. It's not.

    And graphics novels are a great medium to tell a story in – it just didn't work here, I'm afraid.

  5. mynfel says:

    Well, I think it's only the first 1/3 of the original Outlander, but I gotta go dig up my copy and see exactly where it ends. The rape scene would be a very touchy thing to do, especially given that the one sex scene they had had to be edited to cover up Jamie's ass. Seems a bit silly honestly. If I'm grown up enough to read the scene in the book, I'm obviously grown up enough to see an artistic (and tasteful) rendition of it in picture.

    I dunno – the whole thing just seems so half-assed and that sucks. 

  6. LynnM says:

    The illustrations don't look like they were done by the same artist. Strange. I could see GA as Jamie, only with red hair,

  7. katiebabs says:

    Cover Jamie's ass made me snort.

    Graphic novels can be serious and not corny as this comes across.

  8. mynfel says:

    And you know – I wish they had just gone and done that. Either keep it completely light or get right into the gritty part of it. But this just skimmed the surface. I prefer long and involved stories with my graphic novels – loved Sandman and The Crow, for example. They're meaty and complex and have so many layers to them. I feel like Exile one really did the readers a disservice. Graphic novel fans won't like it because it's poorly constructed – and Outlander fans who don't read graphic novels won't get it and then naturally assume that all graphic novels are like this. 

  9. mynfel says:

    Maybe some were done by assistants or something. 

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