Friday, 19 October 2007
Held in thrall
Amy Corzine writes about her work for Classical Comics:
What was it like writing the comic adaptation for Jane Eyre?
Wonderful. I was paid to wallow in an ocean of romance! The characters, language, plot and descriptive passages held me in thrall so that writing this adaptation was a joy. It was also great fun to suggest imagery, keeping to Charlotte Brontë’s vision while utilising my own imagination, and to plot the story, panel by panel, much as scriptwriters and playwrights plan their scenes.
Writing the graphic adaptation of Jane Eyre for Classical Comics gave me a fantastic excuse and tremendous opportunity to immerse myself in its author’s mind. It quickly became obvious that Brontë was propounding the belief, perhaps gleaned from her Irish forebears, that real spirituality arises from a natural goodness in human beings that is inextricable from Nature.
A potent mixture of Christianity and British folklore established a powerful psychological background for the love affair between Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester. Symbolism made the novel sparkle. Jane’s show of strength was linked with the moon rising. Mr. Rochester was described as a bird of prey. He often called Jane a tiny bird of one sort or the other, or a fairy sprite.
Why is it such a great novel? Acute observations of the social and relationship constellations of the people of Bronte's time play a part. But the clever chemistry and verbal dances between the lovers are perhaps what most strike the heart. Often it seemed as if Brontë were simply recounting real conversations – perhaps ones she had really had with a schoolmaster with whom she fell in love while working as a governess in France.
The book was so well-plotted, its language so moving, and its descriptions so colourful, that putting it into visual form was one of the easiest and most enjoyable writing jobs I have ever had. My most difficult task was choosing which passages to leave out.
Its images remain indelibly imprinted upon my psyche. I became the unloved orphan rejected by wealthy relations who read a picture book while hiding on a heavily veiled window seat for solace. I grew indignant with childish rage against Jane’s early tormentors. I shivered with hunger in the cold of Lowood Hall. I fell in love with Mr. Rochester right alongside Jane, felt her fear and desperation upon discovering the mad Mrs. Rochester, and her despair as if it were my own, upon discovering the only man she had ever loved was deceitful and married. I contemplated the star above me as if I were Jane Eyre lying on the moor, penniless and alone.
The passions of another age, another time and place, filled me while I adapted this book. Now I understand the people of Brontë’s time, whom she described so movingly.
Jane Eyre showed me that the repressed Englishman has always been a myth. The emotions of the people on these islands rage as furiously, and deeply, as the seas around them.
I hope the comic book will inspire adults as well as young people to read the original work. The novel will draw them into the England of two centuries ago, and inspire them to contemplate ideas such as the nature of love and religion, and whether our spiritual consciousnesses are inextricable from Nature and each other. Nothing stimulates debate so well as a good story.
Posted by Richard Wilcocks at 8:25 p.m.