The Victorian Graphic Classics—Heir of the Victorian Illustrated Book
The conclusion looks forward from the Victorian illustrated book to the “graphic classics,” a form of modern popular culture that is arguably the heir of the Victorian illustrated book. Canonical texts adapted into graphic novel format are inheritors of the aesthetic conventions of caricature and realism, reshaped in a hyper-modern form to appeal to twenty-first-century readers. The chapter explores parallels between the serial and the comic book. It surveys graphic novel adaptations of nineteenth-century novels by Jane Austen, Charlotte and Emily Brontë, Charles Dickens, and Anthony Trollope as well as Neo-Victorian graphic novels (e.g. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) and original Victorian-themed graphic novels (e.g. Batman Noël). The conclusion focuses on two important Victorian illustrated books—Dickens’s Oliver Twist (1838) and Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland (1865)—to demonstrate how graphic novel adaptation is reviving a genre that a century before recognized pictures play a central role in plot and character development. This chapter foregrounds author-illustrator Will Eisner, the father of the graphic novel and author-illustrator of Fagin the Jew (2003), for his direct challenge to a religious and ethnic stereotype that Dickens and Cruikshank develop in Oliver Twist and Du Maurier carries into Trilby.
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