Perfect Faults and Inconsistent Communities: Hope Larson’s A Wrinkle in Time

A Wrinkle in Time was one of the defining books of my childhood. I have vivid memories of sitting on my couch as my mom read it to me, and being terrified by the image of a rhythmically pulsating brain. I read the book several times throughout my life, most recently to my own children.

And so, I’m pretty excited about the film adaptation (I’m going to see it in a few hours and I’ll review it tomorrow), but as a comic fan, I was delighted to see Hope Larson’s graphic novel adaptation in 2012. One of the things I love about it is its emphasis on Meg Murry as a messy protagonist, one whose heroism comes about not because she changes, but because she changes the way she sees herself.

I wrote about the book recently for

While comic books are known for their ability to visually convey bombast and complex action (dating back long before filmmakers had the technology to do so convincingly), Larson’s cartooning slows the narrative and grounds it firmly in Meg’s experience. She does not excise the story’s surreal elements, but subordinates them to the arc of Meg’s shifting perspective. Doing so allows Larson to keep Meg’s faults front and center, filling the book with weirdos whose mere presence undoes IT’s uniform utopia.

We see this devotion to peculiarity in the way Larson renders the characters, conveying paragraphs’ worth of development in a few lines. Her Meg alternates between sloping when sad and tightly angled when angry, glasses forever sliding around and occasional unruly curly-q’s atop her mop of hair. Larson retains Calvin’s ebullience with a smile beaming from between two too-big ears and crowning a too-long body, his knees bent outward and his ankles protruding from his pant legs. Charles Wallace has the wide eyes and small stature befitting his age, but Larson’s skill at facial expressions reveals a mind sharper than any ordinary child’s. Larson follows L’Engle’s basic descriptions for Mrs. Whatsit and her compatriots Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which, making the first two little old ladies and the last either a traditional witch or a floating blob of light, but her use of tight curved lines indicate an ethereal lightness. Even when the figures recall familiar types, Larson gives them an odd distinguishing touch.

You can read the whole thing here, and see some cool images from the book. Check it out, and then come back tomorrow for my review of the movie!

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