Outlander – Same Story, Different Media: The Graphic Novel

Posted 26 February, 2016 by Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews in Uncategorized / 18 Comments

This is the third post in my Outlander for my MA class series, and today, I’m discussing the same scene I discussed last week in my post about the novel. In the graphic novel, things are a bit different, of course, since there are drawings of the characters setting the mood, and less text than in the novel.

Outlander / The Exile cover - (un)Conventional Bookviews

Outlander: The Graphic Novel
In the graphic novel, named The Exile: An Outlander Graphic Novel, and which is Jamie’s story more than it is Claire’s, the scene in which Claire takes control of the situation in order to help set Jamie’s shoulder is present as well. It is very interesting to see this scene included, especially because the point of view has shifted from Claire’s in the novel to an external perspective, where the readers are on the outside looking in. The fact that the graphic novel has changed names from Outlander to The Exile: An Outlander Graphic Novel is also telling, because Claire is an outlander – both when it comes to time and to place, she does not fully belong where she finds herself. The Exile is about Jamie being forced to leave his home, and he lives in hiding, always running from the English soldiers who are roaming Scotland searching for Scots who have broken the law, or are perceived as a threat to the English King.
The scene here spans over two pages, and it is interesting to see how Claire has been very sexualised in the images used to depict her, even as she is surrounded by Scots wearing kilts. It is as if she has been overly sexualised as yet another way to show how much out of place and time she really is. While the other woman on the first page shows some skin as well, it is not the same as Claire, who has a ripped dress, where part of her breast is almost falling out, and which is used in part to distract the men from their mission to set Jamie’s shoulder. When Claire takes over the power of the situation, the men are thinking of her breast and a baby, leaving Claire free to deal with Jamie’s injury.
On the first page, Claire only shows up in the first and the last panels. At first she is simply observing in the background, almost hidden from view, however in the last panel, she is not only interjecting verbally, elbowing the man as she does in the novel, she is also physically grabbing the man who is ready to deal with Jamie’s wounded shoulder. The misunderstanding between what Claire says and means when she states that she is a nurse and what the men are obviously thinking is striking as well, and comes across much more because of the thought bubble above them men’s heads in the middle panel of the second page, where they all think she is a wet-nurse. The way they see Claire as holding a baby to her breast, while also seeing Claire’s breast almost falling out of her dress brings some comic relief to this very serious scene. 
Kuskin states that “The page is a poem” (8 minutes) and looking at the pages above, we could say that the three rows of panels can be seen as stanzas, with the rhythm short, short, long, short, short. Kuskin also states that “the grid is the iambic pentameter, the measure of how comics work” (8 minutes), and these pages underline his point in a way that makes reading the comic very smooth and rhythmic, with the eyes going through the grid in an uneven way in order to take in all the details. Both the pages also create a certain distance between the reader and the action, as if they are on the outside, slightly above the characters, looking in on what is happening on the inside. This distance makes the story that unfolds less intimate than it could have been if we as readers were placed in the middle of the action, and thus it also makes the analysis a bit more clinical, even if the readers can be involved in what is happening because they might want Claire to be right, and for her to not overstep and potentially be hurt by the men she is interfering with. 
The fact that the gutters on these pages are white brings a little more light to the scene that is in the dark, where only the light from the fire and candles illuminate the characters. The middle panel on both pages can be seen as the point of entry, because these panels are larger, and emphasise on Jamie’s wound. The close-ups of characters’ faces show that the atmosphere is fairly tense, both because of Jamie’s injury, and because of Claire’s assertion that the men are trying to re-set Jamie’s shoulder all wrong. 
These two pages work well together because they have the same rhythm, and because they involve the same plot-point, namely setting Jamie’s shoulder. While the men agree that they have to do something to help Jamie so that they can continue riding during the night, they do not have a clear knowledge of how to do so. Claire’s interruption, where she physically grabs the man who is holding Jamie’s arm makes the tension palpable. This is both because she is a woman not staying in her place, and because there is a triangle of bodies between Jamie, the other man and Claire. This page does tell a story, but the last panel is almost like a cliff-hanger, making the reader want to turn the page fast to find out if Claire was right to interfere or not. 
In the top right panel on the second page, it seems as if Claire might be in more trouble than she bargained for, but she continues to stand strong. Not backing down is what shows Claire’s strength, but it could also be argued that it shows a certain naiveté, she might not have understood the situation fully to realise that she might have put herself in danger by not letting the men continue to take the lead. In the middle panel, there is a fast diffusion of the tension, both because Claire moves towards Jamie, and because the men are busy thinking of her nursing a baby. This comic relief brings breathing space both to the characters and to the reader, as the potential danger seems to disappear, and Claire is able to correctly set Jamie’s shoulder in the bottom panel of the page. 
Looking at the two pages together, the layout proves Kuskin’s point about how the pages in a comic book creates tension. Both pages have strong tension, and it is only towards the end of the second page that the tension is dissipated. 
Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews
Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

About Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

Lexxie is an English as foreign language teacher and has a Master's degree in English Language and Literature. She's an avid reader, blogger, compulsive one-clicker and a genre omnivore. Ever since she learnt how to read she has been seen with a book or two in her hands everywhere she goes.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 3,666 other subscribers

18 responses to “Outlander – Same Story, Different Media: The Graphic Novel

  1. I enjoyed this portion of your assignment – maybe most – because I don’t read graphic novels and I liked getting to see how it differed, how it was the same, and how it was all done in pictures. 🙂
    Thanks for sharing your work, Lexxie. **BIG HUGS**

  2. Well, very interesting. I was not at all thrilled with the graphic novel interpretation of Outlander. (Double checked my goodreads lists and review). However, I am not a completely closed mind on the subject. The details you mentioned are leading me to take another look from a different perspective.

    Xyra recently posted: XBR4OF #9: Raven Cycle 1
    • I think the fact that it was from a different perspective made it OK with me, but I didn’t love it as much as the novels or the TV show, Xyra. I think that it stayed true to character anyway, though, and I loved that Claire was still herself 🙂 I also found it very interesting that the actors for the TV show actually look a little bit like the characters in the graphic novel!

      • You have a point about the actors resembling the graphic novel depictions. They are really close. 🙂 Overall, it stayed true to character, but I wasn’t fond of Rupert as narrator or the introduction of the Kenneth character.

        Xyra recently posted: Model Monday: Lea
    • I don’t read graphic novels very often, either, Carole, but it was so interesting to do so in my class, and because I’m so obsessed with Outlander, I bought the graphic novel when it was released, because I was missing Claire and Jamie too much! Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Nice write up there Lexxie!
    Most guys dont know that there are graphic novels, leave alone reading, and sometimes I feel that guys are missing a lot. Outlander is just one of those irresistibly great graphic novels, actually one of my best.
    Thanks for the review, and keep the great stuff coming.


  4. I really loved reading through this one scene through the three different medias. I’ve never really paid that much attention to it before, so it was very interesting. I’ve not read nor watched this series. I’ve been meaning to pick it up from the library, but just haven’t gotten to it. I loved seeing how you broke it all down. I’ve also never broke down a graphic novel that much before. I found it all very interesting.

    Melanie Simmons @mlsimmons recently posted: Review: Beyond Ruin by Kit Rocha (@mlsimmons, @kitrocha)
  5. Hi Lexxie,
    I don´ t read graphic novels, but those pics look so great – tempting 🙂 I don´ t know if it is the same graphic novel, but I remember some pics Diana Gabaldon showed on her website some years ago in which Jamie and Claire celebrated their wedding night and you could see Jamie´s bare buttocks *laugh* and those pics were already great to look at.

    best wishes
    Vi @Gone With The Books

    Vi @Gone With The Books recently posted: Stacking The Shelves #3

Leave a Reply

(Enter your URL then click here to include a link to one of your blog posts.)