Thoughts of the Graphic Sort

A place where I can discuss my addiction to graphic novels.

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Tamara Drewe by Posy Simmonds

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That right eye's just a bit wonky, don't you agree?

I heard about Tamara Drewe from my sister who saw the movie of the same name.  While she didn’t give the movie rave reviews, I was intrigued enough to check out the graphic novel.  So I bought it and then it sat on my shelf for over a year.

See, the cover artwork kinda threw me off.  I already disliked Tamara for being a bit cross-eyed.  And then I read the flap and saw that it was a remake of a Thomas Hardy novel (Far From the Maddening Crowd), and I was even more disinterested.  Why?  Because in my opinion, modern updates do more to ruin a story than enhance it.

But then, many months later as I was reorganizing my bookshelves, I noticed the sheep doing the nasty in the background.

Two bits of fluff gettin' it on. My kind of classy.

Okay.  Now we’re onto something.

So I gave Tamara a chance and I’m plenty glad I did.  It opens with an classified ad for a writer’s retreat that is “far from the maddening crowd, ” a very clever way to pay homage to the source.  The actual story starts with Glen Larson, an American who has a bit of an inferiority complex when it comes to writing and women.  He arrives at Stonefield Retreat for for his second stay and you get the idea that through the hardwork of Beth, the proprietress, Stonefield is the perfect retreat for authors.  She does the cooking, laundry, typing, cleaning – pretty much everything so that the writers can spend all of their time writing.  Beth is the ultimate supporter, as evidenced by her refusal to disturb her philandering husband’s many dalliances with other women.

And then comes Tamara.  The whole retreat becomes a whirlwind of emotions when the ugly duckling whose nose job has turned her into a swan comes home.  She moves into the manor next door to Stonefield and every man for miles instantly wants to take her into the field and show her their fluff.

But Simmonds knows how to craft a story and she layers Tamara Drewe with very realistic characters, many of whom are unlikeable but you just can’t stop reading about them.  She brings in stalkers, ex-rock gods hung up on ex-girlfriends, unrequited love, media rags and paparazzi, and misguided youth.  And through all of the tawdry goings on surrounding Tamara is Beth.  Beth, the stable, forgiving wife who is on the verge of reaching her limit with her philandering husband.  Watching her teetering on the edge is delicious and infuriating but you daren’t look away lest you miss all of the gory aftermath.

And the artwork… Simmonds uses simple, clean lines to draw her characters which really compliments the writing.  Some pages devote more than half of the page to the writing, which Simmonds artfully interweaves around the images.  The colors are muted and she sometimes colors the backgrounds in browns and grays to highlight the actions of the characters which is really nice.  The simplicity of her artwork naturally compliments the complex story and really immerses the reader into the the world of Tamara Drewe.


Written by JP Weezey

March 11, 2012 at 11:48 pm

Posted in Review

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