Silverfin: the Graphic Novel

silverfinI thought Charlie Higson’s first Young Bond novel, Silverfin was all kinds of fantastic – the suspense, the atmosphere, the bad guys, the action sequences and narrow escapes. All parts of it made me into an instant Bond fan. This is saying a lot because I was a girl who had at that time never (yes, never), watched a Bond movie. I knew nothing of Sean or Pierce or Daniel. I do now. Since Higson’s first book, I’ve not only caught myself up on the films, I’ve tried to keep up with the rest of Higson’s series (now at 5 books), but I’m a tad behind. I’m thinking the best plan is a Bond marathon over Christmas break? Until then, I picked up Silverfin – the Graphic Novel to get me back in the spy spirit.

Now, for fans of the novel, there’s quite a bit that isn’t in the graphic version in terms of plot. That’s understandable of course, since given the length of the original, a whole lot of exposition and dialogue had to be cut out. I like exposition and dialogue. That’s the kind of reader I am. I wonder if I had not read the novel beforehand, would I still have felt that the graphic version moved a bit too rapidly, without quite enough time spent on each of the various plot threads and character development? Perhaps not. But that’s how I felt. I found myself rounding the characters out, filling them in in my mind based on my memory of the novel. There’s an interesting interview with Higson, in which he comments on the challenges of converting his text to the new format, and he notes that it wasn’t easy to do, that ideally, more length would have been nice. Still, it works quite well, and most definitely the pages keep on turning. The brisk pacing and excitement is still there in full force.

The art work by Kev Walker and the layout design pack a real the visual punch. I loved the way the colour palette shifted as the story moved from one place to another, signaling a new sequence and setting. The opening section at the loch, all red and black, is super creepy and matches the horror of the events to perfection. The Eton sections are pale, quite muted, as if you’re watching an old film – just right in spirit for the classy and legendary school. When James comes face to face with the true evil secret of Hellebore’s Castle, everything suddenly turns deep shades of bright green, you know the “scientist gone bad” green colour (think Hulk). The colouring supported the text the same way music might in a film, changing as the mood changed, but not in a way that was heavy-handed.

My overall assessment? Well worth reading. Good fun for those who are already fans of the novels, who can fill things in a little along the way. You might be wondering about the first chapter? I know I was. The first chapter of Silverfin has to be one of the spookiest, most suspenseful openings I’ve ever read, period. Let’s just say the graphic version of the opening was good enough to inspire an immediate second reading. If you’re not shuddering by page 5, you should have your head examined.

Silverfin – the Graphic Novel by Charlie Higson & Kev Walker is published by Puffin.

(This is cross-posted at Guys Lit Wire).


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