This Robert Louis Stevenson classic is something special in the world of graphic novels, having been commissioned by the city of Edinburgh to help promote its status as the first City of Literature. Thousands of free copies are to be given away to libraries and schools around the city, with the remainder available for the general public to collect, for free, from Edinburgh libraries on 1st February 2007. If you’re in the city at that time, see if you can bag yourself a free book. Anyone else interested in the book can, of course, buy it through the usual channels.
Kidnapped is a classic adventure, following penniless David Balfour as he tries to reclaim his rightful fortune from a conniving uncle he didn’t know he had. Events overtake him, and he finds himself captive on a ship to America, shipwrecked on a deserted Scottish island, and befriending a Scottish fugitive on his journey back to Edinburgh.
Comic adaptations of classics can be tricky, and this one has been heavily abridged to fit into 64 pages. While it remains faithful to the spirit of the original, its relative short length necessitates skirting around some of Stevenson’s finer detail. Grant does a great job in the space he’s given, but you can’t help but wonder what could have been with twice the number of pages, or perhaps even more.
Kennedy’s rough-lined art depicts the era well though, giving it an authentic feel in terms of characters, costume and landscape, with his darkly brooding backgrounds perfectly matching the skullduggery of the plot.
This is a great introduction to Stevenson’s novel and should also help broaden the horizons of graphic novels, given its inclusion in such an illustrious scheme. It’s difficult to quell that over-arching feeling though, that with little more space to play with, Grant and Kennedy could have gone above and beyond what appears here, and produced something of a classic in its own right.