There’s a strange stigma that graphic novels are not on par with written novels.
Readers and nonreaders alike deign them as sort of children’s medium, or something that belongs in the old days of newspaper comic strips.
And undoubtedly, while some graphic novels are geared towards children or filled with silly, substanceless four panel comics, I strongly believe it’s a rising medium that takes as much, if not more, effort to make, and has just as much meaning.
Take The Wendy Project. A 91 page graphic novel written by Osborne Fish, it’s a beautiful modern take on J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, in which Wendy deals with loss, grief, and the ability to cope and move on.
Whether it’s a reimagining of the classic story or simply a homage to it is never made completely clear, but if there’s one thing that is clear, it’s that the artwork is beautiful. Reminiscent of black and white pen and pencil drawings with splashes of watercolor in a sketchbook, every stroke, every color, and every word is placed with intention. Quotes from the original Peter Pan are placed before major incidents, filling every moment with childlike emotion and wonder.
Wendy’s everyday life after a car accident and disappearance of Michael is (literally) drab and gray. There is only color in her life again when she searches and finds hints of Michael in her brother John, Michael’s remaining possessions, her drawn account, and her classmate Eben, who bears a startling resemblance to Peter Pan. She tries and fails to find Michael until she finds a way to Neverland - a part that’s not quite dream, and not quite reality. She returns home and finally finds closure with the reappearance of Michael and the writing of her story.
The Wendy Project succeeds where many other fairy tale retellings fail: it feels like it’s own story instead of a simple rehash of the original’s characters and themes. All in all, it’s a poignant story that I feel shows the growing potential of the graphic novel medium, and one I would put alongside Persepolis and Blankets. 5 out of 5 stars.
Review by Janice R.