Friday, December 23, 2011

The Dresden Files: Welcome to the Jungle, by Jim Butcher illustrated by Ardian Syaf (2008)

A graphic novel, this is a side story to the others in The Dresden Files.  In his introduction Butcher explains that "comics" were one of his early literary loves.  I can appreciate that--I spent hours as a child with comics--but I don't have the fondness for them that many have.  It could be that males respond to the genre differently than females.  I don't remember reading Wonder Woman comics--that may have changed my perceptions.

Welcome to the Jungle, much of it set in the Chicago Zoo, is fairly classic Dresden fare.  However, I find myself less compelled by the graphic version.  I can understand how less able readers would prefer this genre.  The illustrations do an excellent job of filling in many of the plot, setting and mood.  But to me, the illustrations lumped the book in with a sort of stock set of visuals.  When I read a Butcher book I am able to visualize the Chicago I know well and feel the gritty atmosphere under the El and other locations.  The illustrations here took me to a sort of "Gotham City" set. 

When I got to the back matter and saw the concept illustrations by Chris McGrath I knew that it was more than a personal preference.  McGrath's illustrations offered much more the "feel" I'd prefer for my personal vision for the setting and characters of The Dresden Files.  On the other hand--Butcher selected the illustrations by Syaf, Ketcham & DeVito and says they are "spot on" for his personal vision for Dresden.  This probably proves Louise Rosenblatt's reader response theory.  The interaction between me and Butcher is different from the vision Butcher has on his own.  That's okay.  Many authors say that their "critics" see very different things in their work than they had intended.  My vision of The Dresden Files won't be spoiled by the content of this graphic novel.  I will also be able to use it to introduce graphic novel fans to Butcher's work.

The plot line left me a little disappointed, but then it isn't possible to work all the character development and plot twists that are typical in The Dresden Files into a graphic novel length work.  I look forward to introducing this to some readers to gather their responses.

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