Review: A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel

I wish there was a better word than “nostalgia” to describe how I feel about Hope Larson’s graphic novel treatment of A Wrinkle in Time. That sort of old-timey word doesn’t really do justice to what’s elicited by the book – for me, it’s a mix of readerly affection, spooky wonder, and an inexplicable homesickness for places I’ve never been.

The details are impeccable – Larson did her homework before tackling the 1962 original, which broke ground as one of the first sci-fi novels published for children. In a piece for the Huffington Post, she describes poring over old Sears catalogs from the 1950s and 60s to get the look of the clothes just right. The exterior of Meg’s house is patterned after Madeleine L’Engle’s own rambling farmhouse in Connecticut. And her depictions of all the book’s science-y stuff are so engaging I’d kind of like Larson to do a book on physics next.

But while the visual accuracy is spot on, Larson really shines in recreating the novel’s powerful evocations of space, and of human imperfection vs. cold and rational evil. She uses the same palette of white, light blue and black that Craig Thompson utilized to such great effect in Blankets, and here the color scheme is perfect for depicting such things as the darkness of the night sky, the whorls and stars that accompany time travel, and the lenses in Meg’s thick, unfashionable glasses. The effect is both dreamlike and specific.

Most of the dialogue is lifted directly from L’Engle’s text – making the book immediately familiar to fans of the original. She is also true to the characters – Mrs. Which, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Whatsit are at once old-school wacky and otherworldly wise, while Charles Wallace is every bit the child savant you’d expect. As for Meg, Larson subtly captures her awkwardness and discomfort being in her own skin.  Prone to big emotions and unsure of how to handle herself, Meg’s biggest flaws – her inability to contain her fear and love – are in fact what save the day. Larson’s depiction of this, the novel’s pivotal moment, is lovely and affecting.

It’s a feat that this book is both a faithful rendition and yet utterly contemporary. Larson gets  L’Engle’s belief in family and home and a universe that works, while using the conventions of graphic novel-making to bring forth the novel’s sense of wonder, mystery and possibility. It’s a great experience on its own and well-worth a visit if it’s been a while since you’ve read the original.

Nerdstarter: The Funding

As much as I troll kickstarter lately searching for small-press RPGs to back, I figured I might as well make some use of my findings. So here’s what’s happening this week:

The seminal indie RPG Sorcerer is receiving an anniversary upgrade with annotations by the author Ron Edwards and new artwork. Only a few days left on this one, but it’s already made more than four times its goal, so might as well consider it a pre-order.

Fate Core will be the release in hardcopy of the updated FATE rules, a generic RPG system that inspired games from Spirit of the Century to Diaspora to The Dresden Files, and helped launch the indie RPG company Evil Hat. The FATE Kickstarter has already made nearly a hundred times its original goal, and when the project is completed, the pdf will be made available to everyone on a “pay what you like” basis.

Finally, the 70s RPG Tunnels and Trolls is headed toward a new edition. I’m not really an Old School Revival enthusiast myself, but, you know, different strokes. And I’m happy there are those out there keeping these things alive: Tunnels and Trolls Deluxe has already doubled its original Kickstarter goal, and for fourteen bones, you can get yourself in line for the PDF and keep the flame burning.

Hellmouth High: A Fiasco Playset

As part of my resurgent efforts to get regular content on this blog, I give unto you Hellmouth High, a Buffy-inspired playset for the Fiasco roleplaying game, created by yours truly (the playset, not the game, I mean). In other words, I had this kicking around on my hard drive from ages past and figured I might as well make some use of it. The game Fiasco has been mentioned before here when Wil Wheaton and friends did their awesome actual-play video. You can also clicky on the image below to view the pdf.

Thanks to the folks at Bully Pulpit Games for providing the template for creating this. Also, stay posted for my review of their newest game, Durance, whenever I can spare the time.

Edit: The playset has been updated to include a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 2.0 license. I forgot to add it first time around, but assume the earlier version can be likewise shared, hosted, remixed, whatever.

Trailer for Warren Ellis’ Gun Machine

So, it’s been a year of big changes here at Nerdbrarian HQ—new city, new job, a lot less time to blog—but I’m determined for the new year to renew my efforts at irregular posting, even if it’s just reposting cool stuff I saw elsewhere. Hence, this book trailer for Warren Ellis’ newest prose novel, Gun Machine, narrated by Wil Wheaton, illustrated by Ben Templesmith. Pretty sweet. Now I just need to find time to read the book…