Adapting a prose novel into graphic novel form is no easy task. When it's one of the most-beloved books of the century, it's even harder. We asked Denise Mina to share the challenges and opportunities of adapting The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo into the upcoming graphic novel edition. For a sneak peek at this hotly-anticipated book, download a free sample here.
Adaptation is exactly what most writers don’t want to do. It’s comparatively badly paid. It’s low status. Worse, with a book this well known, it invites a forensic examination of your adaptation by people who know what they’re talking about.
Basically, it’s like volunteering for a difficult exam you don’t need to do.
Still, I couldn’t resist. I love these books but that isn’t enough to make me want to adapt it.
No, the reason is this: Larson was a political radical. He was a feminist, anti-fascist, suspicious of corporate culture. He was a social critic and that’s what these books are really about.
Larsson knew that political journalism is read by people who are interested in political journalism. He also knew that everyone reads good crime novels.
But it’s easy to forget he’s a radical. Example: Salander visits her mother, a brain-damaged victim of domestic abuse. For me, that’s what makes Salander flip when she’s attacked. Her mother isn’t even in the Fincher movie.
The corporate fraud hardly features in either of the movies but, in fairness, complex fraud is almost unfilmable, unless you have a big white board and a bumbling sidekick to explain everything to. Suggested dialogue:
“So, Wannerström’s box factory in Poland was not fully operational at any time and yet attracted large government grants, Mikael Blomkvist?”
“Yes, Idiöt Sidekick.”
I don’t think Larsson was writing for the money. I think he was doing it because he really cared about the dispossessed, the outsiders, the overlooked, everyday victims of corporate and state brutality. All of these points get watered down or completely lost in mainstream culture.
That’s why I did it. Go on, yourself, Steig, some of us were listening.
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