Jane Eyre, Graphic Novel Heroine

Jane.

Jane Eyre has lived many lives since she first captured readers’ hearts with her classic tale of romance and babysitting in 1847. On film, she’s been portrayed by the likes of Joan Fontaine, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Samantha Morton, and Mia Wasikowska. On stage, she’s done pliés and performed musical farce. In recent book-length retellings, Charlotte Brontë’s governess has been re-envisioned as a technology manager; a vampire slayer; a chauffeur; a college dropout; and a Korean-American au pair. Not bad for a girl who, in Brontë’s original novel, describes herself as “poor, obscure, plain and little.”

The new graphic novel Jane, a colorful adaptation of Brontë’s novel written by Crazy Ex Girlfriend co-creator Aline Brosh McKenna and illustrated by Ramón K. Pérez, depicts the titular character as a penniless art student in New York. Released on Wednesday, the modern re-telling sees Jane move from a remote New England fishing town to New York City, enroll at an art school, and take a job as a nanny to the daughter of one of the richest men in the city, Mr. Rochester, to support her studies. What follows will be roughly familiar to anyone who’s ever read Brontë’s source material: Though she is instructed never to go to the third floor of Rochester’s apartment, strange events that take place in the house eventually lead her there, to discover his dark secret. What actually ensues, however, is a modern cinematic twist on the Gothic tale, involving masked robbers, an IV drip, and a far more fleshed-out version of Richard Mason than one would find in the original book.

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