I have had Japanese translations of some of my books in the past, but they have all been in ordinary print form so I was surprised, and apprehensive, when four volumes in manga - comic book - versions arrived.
Although my Japanese is nil it was immediately obvious, as soon as I opened them, that these were two books - The Dangerous Mr Ryder and The Marriage Debt - each in a two voume set.
Here is Mr Ryder with the blonde heroine above. (The scene on the orange bedspread is not as sinister as it looks, by the way - Jack Ryder is trying to prevent the infuriated Grand Duchess knifing him in the back!) This is the first of my Those Scandalous Ravenhursts series, so I'm hoping this one does well and they print all 6!
Below is The Marriage Debt with my hero, Nicholas, in Newgate, about to hang as Black Jack Standon, notorious highwayman. I love the way the artist has captured Katherine's fierce determination to save him from the gallows.
I had no idea what to expect inside - would the story be cut, changed - how could I tell? But it was soon very clear that the manga version was incredibly true to the original book: I could follow it easily from the pictures and it all seems to be there.
I'm not sure that I entirely like the heroines with their huge eyes, but the heroes are to die for! Sexy, smouldering men of action who are also accomplished, tender lovers - definitely swoon-making.
Here's an example of the inside at the beginning of The Marriage Debt.
I think it is vivid and really carries you through the story. This scene is from the extract below - see what you think. The hero looks just as I imagined him.
What was particularly interesting, from the point of view of image, was that The Marriage Debt is being reprinted this month in the UK in the first volume of The Regency Collection 2011. Regency Pleasures also contains The Model Debutante - I'm not sure what the Manga artist would have made of the nude modelling scenes in that!
The very different cover for that volume is shown at the bottom of the page.
The beginning of The Marriage Debt -
The tall man in the frieze coat sat cross-legged on the hard bench, put his elbows on his knees, his chin on his clasped hands and thought. It required some concentration to ignore the shackles on his legs, the cold that seeped out of the damp walls, the rustles and squeaking in the rotten straw that covered the floor and the constant noise that echoed through the long dark corridors.
A few cells away a man was screaming an incoherent flood of obscenities that seemed to have gone on for hours. More distantly someone was dragging a stick across the bars of one of the great rooms, a monotonous music which fretted at the nerves. A boy was sobbing somewhere close. Footsteps on the flags outside and the clank and jingle of keys heralded the passing of a pair of turnkeys.
Long ago his father had said he was born to be hanged. At the time he had laughed: nothing had seemed more improbable. Now the words spoken in anger had been proven right: in eight days he would step outside Newgate gaol to the gallows platform and the hangman’s noose.
One small mercy was that they had put him in a cell by himself, not thrown him into one of the common yards where pickpockets and murderers, petty thieves and rapists crowded together, sleeping in great filthy chambers as best they might, fighting amongst themselves and preying on the weakest amongst them if they could.
Apparently his notoriety as Black Jack Standon was worth enough in tips to the turnkeys for them to keep him apart where he could be better shown off to the languid gentlemen and over-excited ladies who found an afternoon’s slumming a stimulating entertainment. The sight of an infamous highwayman who had made the Oxford road through Hertfordshire his hunting ground was the climax of the visit to one of London’s most feared prisons.
He had hurled his bowl at the group who had clustered around the narrow barred opening an hour or two ago and smiled grimly at the shrieks and curses when the foul liquid which passed as stew splattered the fine clothes on the other side of the grill. He doubted they’d feed him again today after that. It was no loss, he seemed to have passed beyond hunger after the trial - if such it could be called.
What do you think of the manga version? Attractive or off-putting? I love them, but I like the elegant lady on the Pleasures cover as well.
Labels: comic books, Japanese translation, Manga, Newgate Prison, Regency Pleasures, Those Scandalous Ravenhursts