Bugsy Malone - Graphic Novel by Alan Parker

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Bugsy Malone - Graphic Novel by Alan Parker

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A kinetic, and therefore rather confusing, graphic novel of the original film – minus the songs.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 64 Date: December 2013
Publisher: HarperCollinsChildren'sBooks
ISBN: 9780007514847

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One bunch of wise guys might think they have it all, but they don't. Another bunch of wise guys want it all and have the splurge guns to help them get it. Into the middle come a beautiful starlet-in-waiting, and our crafty innocent abroad, Bugsy Malone. Cue, at some incredibly random time honouring no discernible anniversary whatsoever, this reprint of the long-lost graphic novel version of the story, told for all those kids who find it tough reading books with just words.

Well, the obvious problem here is that it is at times rather tough to read this. The lettering really is quite random, with the traditional comic-book left-to-right, top-to-bottom patterning of speech balloons made much more helter-skelter. Add in captions and the narrator overlapping panels in an off-kilter way and you really do have to intuit the reading order of the script here. Add on to that the 'wait a minute, which side is this, who's Bugsy with, what, who, hey? who?' feel of the whole piece and you do have a book that your average reluctant reader can struggle with.

I'm not the man to turn to for technical knowledge on reprinting graphic novels, but there's something that's a little off about the artwork too. It looks fine on the covers – exuberant, colourful, sharp, but on the scans or whatever we get inside we find it a different beast. The colours are more pastel, much more muted and subdued, and grainy, and while the colour scheme is still evident, the mood seems at odds with the intention of the piece.

The intention was surely to be a snappy, exuberant, garish children's pastiche of the gangster noir – that certainly is how the film and the stage versions play out. Alan Parker's own adaptation of his script is decent enough – blunt, chatty, giving us all the plot and dialogue (Got him, the salami! Got him, the knucklehead!) that copious youngsters know and love. Similarly, Graham Thompson's work was, at least once upon a time, quite reasonable – certainly, the OTT cartoonish caricatures of the characters, the kinetic inking and the frequent, large sound effects all bring the action to the page.

But if anything the flaws are too prevalent to make a recommendation. Both creators work to make the speakeasy even more sexless than in the film, defining a world's-best-first-date as 'a great day'. Parker cuts things down so much Bugsy is nowhere near present enough to become a title character; finally the unknown someone's decision to make the colouring so analogue, aged and '70s all leave us with quite a poor representation of the vivid original film.

I must still thank the publishers for my review copy.

Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan really caught our eye recently for a very different world to take a reluctant, or very young, reader to - just with less slapstick.

Buy Bugsy Malone - Graphic Novel by Alan Parker at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Bugsy Malone - Graphic Novel by Alan Parker at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Bugsy Malone - Graphic Novel by Alan Parker at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Bugsy Malone - Graphic Novel by Alan Parker at Amazon.com.


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