The Golden Compass: The Graphic Novel (2015-2017)

This comic adaption of Philip Pullman’s NORTHERN LIGHTS, first of the HIS DARK MATERIALS trilogy, mostly does a good job adapting things into the comic format. The story is abridged, of course, and there are a decent amount of thought-out changes to try and channel the flow of information and sequence of plot in a way more suited to panel after panel, rather than flow-on of prose. Sometimes what seem to be bigger changes are teased, before zippily returning back to the novel’s way of doing things, and so generally changes only end up being for ways to convey information with less words. Sometimes this falters, and there’s a terrifying onslaught of words on a page that makes the adaption seem rather ill-conceived for the form.

The first two dozen or so pages seem to suggest a more changed adaption than the comic as a whole is, by starting off somewhat from Lord Asriel’s point-of-view instead of Lyra’s, making a joke at how Lyra talking to her daemon companion (as is usually realised in adaptions) would be audible to all present, and using speedy dream sequences to move around the introduction of worldbuilding elements. But things quickly settle into mostly just doing things the way the novel did them, for better or worse. It’s nice to see a lot of scenes that other adaptions forgo get adapted here.

As for the actual art, it’s a simple sort of visual depiction very much geared to children, and the expressiveness of the characters certainly is of a singular style.

There’s a disjointed sense to a lot of the story, even for all the scenes it preserves – the novel is just too wordy to adapt easily as a children’s comic. And while I love to see comic adaptions of novels in general, there is a question of who exactly this was for, as the novel itself is already aimed at children. It’s a decent adaption, adding nothing but doing a serviceable job realising the story of course best told in the original novel. Two and a half photograms, and a very expressive daemon.

(spoiler-filled, but nicely arresting, images below)

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