The Great Gatsby: A Graphic Novel

by F. Scott Fitzgerald & K. Woodman-Maynard

“They weren’t happy – and yet they weren’t unhappy either. There was an unmistakable air of natural intimacy about the picture, and anybody would have said they were conspiring together.”

Ratings & Reviews

Book Grade: A

Graphic novels are not something I naturally gravitate to, but The Great Gatsby: A graphic Novel Adaptation is instantly addictive. While I knew the story intimately, having taught it multiple times before, I quickly recognized the power of this version. Whether it be to hook reluctant readers or use it to visually convey symbolism, Woodman-Maynard’s watercolor and word illustrations made this an instant hit with me.

The dialogue comes directly from the classic novel, but the way that it is presented on the page conveys so much about the situation and the characters. The language and illustrations blend to a rich story with opulent metaphors that come to life on the page. I so appreciated that this version stays true to to the original, yet makes it more vivid and lifelike. Additionally, the wispy-frames of Daisy and Jordan, and the opulent 1920s fashion help to add a visual layer of historical context without making the book dull or fact-laden (Woodman-Maynard notes that she used fashion illustrations from the era to help guide her sense of these characters).

Overall, I found this interpretation of Gatsby’s story to be addictive and insightful. It stays true to the essence of Fitzgerald’s classic while briging it to life visually. Such a great option for reluctant readers, graphic novel fans, or Gatsby addicts of all ages.

Movie Rating: PG

As with the original Gatsby story, there is a bit of language and a bit of violence. Neither of these is exaggerated in The Great Gatsby: A Graphic Novel Adaptation, but because this visual version stays true to the classic, it does feature prominently here. The story itself is ideal for older students because the depth of symbolism, historical context, and questions about human nature, yet any reader who is a fan of the original will be drawn to this version.

Would I Buy This for My Library: Definitely

Gatsby has remained a popular cultural figure for years with school dances and spirit days celebrating the era’s style and larger-than-life glamour. While most students read this during their junior year in American English courses, I always get students who want to read it to know what it is about, but don’t really want to invest in the whole book. This is such a perfect option for those students. It is beautifully done, an easy read, and faithful to the original story. There is the added advantage that students who may struggle with metaphors and symbolism may grasp the concepts once they are laid out in images; for this reason, I am highly recommending this to some of my teachers so that they can use it as another tool to support their students. Given the popularity of the classic Fitzgerald novel and graphic novels, I am confident that this will be a hit!

Summary:

The Great Gatsby is a classic American novel filled with hope, dreams, and failings. The Great Gatsby: A Graphic Novel Adaptation takes the timeless story and brings it to life with watercolor illustrations and dialogue. The clever layout and engaging images capture the symbolism that features so prominently in the original and retains the depth of characters brilliantly.

Nick Carraway is the narrator of both the classic and this graphic adaptation, but his thoughts come to life as text on the page with the words being woven into the artistic frames. Woodman-Maynard has done a lovely job of creating a graphic version of Fitzgerald’s work in a way that makes it at once contemporary and timeless. This version retains the cleverness and depth of the original while being accessible to young readers who might not be drawn to the traditional text version.

Book Talk Questions:

  1. Which of the characters is the most dishonest with others? Who is the most dishonest with themselves?
  2. Nick Carraway is an unreliable narrator. What are some examples of that?
  3. Each of the characters has a different speech bubble shape/stem. How does this align with their traits and personality?
  4. Select one of the pages that depicts a visual metaphor. What does it suggest and how do the image and story support this?
  5. Who do you blame most for the events of the story? Explain.

A Perfect Read for Fans Of…

  • The Great Gatsby: A Graphic Novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald & Fred Fordham
  • To Kill a Mockingbird: A Graphic Novel by Harper Lee & Fred Fordham
  • Dear Scott, Dearest Zelda: The Lost Letters of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald by F. Scott Fitzgerald & Zelda Fitzgerald

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