Comic Publishers

September 4, 2017

Archaia Reviews: Jane HC

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Written by: Eric
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Jane HC
Publisher: Archaia
Writer: Aline Brosh McKenna
Artist: Romon K. Perez
Cover: Romon K. Perez

Jane is a modern retelling of Charlotte Bronti’s “Jane Eyre”.  As a young girl, Jane lives in a fishing town in New England and loses her parents to the sea and ends up having to live with her Aunt and cousins. Feeling unwanted and ignored she lives a ghost-like existence spending her time working on fishing boats and honing her art skills. Jane uses the money she saved and leaves for New York for a fresh start as an art student.  Forced to take a job to maintain her scholarship Jane becomes a nanny to a lonely maladjusted young girl named Adele and through mutual loneliness forms a bond with Adele and Adele’s absentee father Mr. Rochester.

At first glance, Jane is a graphic novel version of any romantic movie you’ve ever seen and the beginning has a very Uptown Girls vibe.  Jane finds Adele to be a kindred spirit who understands what it’s like to live without the ones you love.  Like Jane, Adele has lost her mother and her father is a successful businessman who’s never around. Through Jane’s machinations Adele begins to blossom out of her depressed reclusive self which initially seems to bring Jane into conflict with Rochester who is closed off and inaccessible.  However, despite his rough edges, Rochester takes a liking to Jane and her attentiveness to Adele and eventually allows himself to open up to the two of them.  Naturally as the story progresses Jane and Rochester’s relationship begins to flourish as well and becomes a proper love story.

There are few characters outside the trio of Jane, Adele, and Rochester that help flesh out the story.  Most notable among them is Mason, Adele’s uncle and Rochester’s Brother-in-law. Although McKenna’s use of Mason as a plot device is subtle and his motivations seem vague for a better part of the story, his few interactions with the trio never fail to push the plot every time he shows up and the relationship between the trio takes a leap forward.

Ramon Perez’s artwork is a perfect pairing for McKenna’s story and I was pleased to learn that after seeing his work McKenna specifically sought him to illustrate her story. Jane’s view of the city is rendered in bold charcoal drawn lines with often solid coloring.  Perez isn’t shy with is reds and purples and uses the colors to direct the feeling of each page and draw the viewer’s eye to key elements on the panels. Rochester in particular, who is described again and again as dark and brooding is often depicted with bold strokes of black and solid flat colors in contrast to the bright and thinner line work on characters like Adele and Jane. However, if you pay close attention you may even notice that as Rochester begins to grow and change as a character his linework and coloring softens to match that of Jane and Adele.

With all the things I loved about this book there is one bombshell during the climax that I felt almost derailed the story a bit. I won’t spoil it for you potential readers but it was so left field that I found myself going backward for any foreshadowed indicators and found none. Some may find it to be a satisfying twist but to me it became a glaring stain on an otherwise pristine narrative and I found it completely unnecessary. Despite my lack of interest in romance and that aforementioned blemish on the climax I can not deny that Jane is a beautiful book visually and narratively.  I’ve never read Jane Eyre but after reading Jane I may pick it up.  The charm that Aline McKenna injects into each of the characters is undeniable and the interactions with the trio will hopefully make you smile as much as I did.  McKenna’s expertise as a screenwriter helps to keep the relationship progression between the group quite natural with very few forced moments sprinkled in and Perez’s art style matched the tone of the story perfectly. Archaia as a publisher continues it’s legacy releasing quality storytelling and fans will not be disappointed with Jane.

Eric Snell
esnell@comicatack.net

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