Phew- managed to squeeze this read in only just in time to hit the deadline for this Graphic Novels mini-challenge! The brief was to read at least one classic novels in graphic form within the month of January 2010.
I wanted to read an adaptation of a story that I didn't know and that discounted all the options in my library's very small selection except one! This made choosing rather simple although it was a complete coincidence that the book I selected for this challenge was also illustrated by P Craig Russell who provided the artwork for Murder Mysteries which I read earlier this month.
The internet tells me that he is actually best known for his “Library of Opera Adaptions” series from around twenty years ago which have now been re-released. The Magic Flute is the first in this series and is, unsurprisingly, a 138 page graphic novel adaptation of Mozart’s opera of the same name.
Although a fan of musicals, I’ve never actually seen an opera and I wonder if I should start with the recent Magic Flute film adaptation, directed by Kenneth Brannagh…
For those, like me, who are unfamiliar with the story, it’s a farcical fairytale (is that even a sub-genre?) following the noble Prince Tamino’s quest to rescue Pamina, the daughter of the Queen of Night, from the clutches of the evil Saratro. Accompanying him on his journey is the comic-relief providing bird-catcher Papageno who is on his own search for true love.
The plot/characters are not as complicated to follow as it might appear from the above synopsis and, from the point of view of someone who does not know the story from any other source, I thought it felt complete although I am sure that some elements were very simplified!
The panel layouts were absolutely excellent but the one issue I had with the book was that sometimes the illustrations themselves felt very dated. Pamina, in particular, looked as though she should be gracing the cover of a very old Mills & Boon which I found quite off-putting. If you want to get a flavour for the artwork, there's an extract here. Then you can make your own mind up!