Both the Quick Text and the Full Text versions of Classical Comics’ Wuthering Heights adaptation tell Emily Bronte’s classic tale of tragic love, broken hearts, and ghostly terror on the moors. Heathcliff is the dark antihero, mysteriously adopted by Catherine’s father. Growing up together, the two became inseparable, running wild against the better judgment of their elders. Misunderstandings, a jealous brother, and class differences keep them apart despite Catherine’s assertions that they are soul mates. The book is filled with desperate tragedy and a dark gloominess that pervades the lives of Catherine, Heathcliff, and everyone around them. There is only a small hope that things may be righted for even the good souls in their midst.
In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve never read the original book in its entirety. I’ve started it on multiple occasions, but never have gotten past halfway. It’s not the length or the old fashioned language, as I have read numerous classics. Additionally, her sister Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre is one of my favorite books of all time. It is that I found myself disliking the characters in the original and I found I disliked them even more in the graphic novel versions, especially the full text. Perhaps compressing the story distills the characters until all you see are their manipulations, the insanity, and their abuse of fellow human beings. The Quick Text, with simpler explanations and dialogue, glosses over some of the worst motivations of the characters. Great classics can adapt well to the graphic novel format, but perhaps this one was not well-equipped for it.
Wuthering Heights offers interesting commentary on women’s roles in society at that time and a graphic novel is an easy way to know the story without reading the whole book. Plus there’s some great additional background information after the story. I think this format could be a bridge into Bronte’s world for people who can’t commit to the whole book. However, I think the primary appeal will be for people who already love the story.
The art is created in a very interesting way, demonstrated in a two page exposition in the back of the books. The panels are actually painted to give them an old-fashioned, classic look. While I find this fascinating and a really cool technique and it gives a haunting, dark feeling to the book, I’m not sure it will have as much appeal for teens or the general graphic novel audience. The landscapes and clothes are my favorite parts of the illustrations, but the facial expressions seem a bit awkward. Of course, that could be because everyone is pretty much unhappy all of the time.
While I have enjoyed other books from Classical Comics, this one missed the mark for me. However, that is primarily based on the issues of distilling the large, gloomy volume into such a small package, making the love between the protagonists seem petty and demeaning, thus rendering the ultimate heartbreak rather moot.
Wuthering Heights: The Graphic Novel — Full Text Version
Wuthering Heights: The Graphic Novel — Quick Text Version
by Emily Bronte, Sean Michael Wilson, Joe Sutliff Sanders
Art by John M. Burns, Jim Campbell
Classical Comics, 2011
Publisher Age Rating: