This new publication by SelfMadeHero is an adaptation of Victor Hugo’s play “The man Who Laughs”. Victor Hugo, who also wrote “Les Miserables” and “Notre-Dame of Paris” has been a cultural phenomenon with many adaptations of his work being apparent over recent history such as the influence behind the “Jokers” smile in Batman’s “The Dark Night” and the German expressionist, Paul Leni’s 1928 film. This graphic novel interpretation of “The Man That Laughs”, is set during the 17th Century around the time of Cromwell and King Charles II. Adapted by seasoned novelist David Hine, the plot is a classic tale of rags to riches and a heartbreaking tragi-romance. The protagonist of the story, Gwynplaine is sentenced to a life of disfigurement by the villainous Comprachicos who mutilate his face into a permanent grin. Homeless and starving, the 10-year-old Gwynplaine is first seen wandering through a snowstorm and discovers an abandoned baby girl, the blind Dea. A philosopher, Ursus, eventually takes in the two children. Years pass by and Gwynplaine falls in love with Dea, but refuses to marry her because he feels his mutilated face makes him unworthy of her beauty. The three earn their living through acting out plays, highlighting the public’s fascination with Gwynplaine’s disfigurement. It seems they reach a harmony in their family dynamic that is soon obliterated when they are separated due to revelations in Gwynplaine’s birthright peerage.
“The Man Who Laughs” is an excellent read, touching on themes of exploitation of the poor, love and humanity – all illustrated in Mark Stafford’s earthy style that nods toward a grim off-shoot of Quentine Blake’s looseness of hand. Stafford effortlessly captures the moods of each panel in rich detail and colour, as well as depicting the emotions and facial expressions of the ugly 17th century Lords of England so well! Worth reading for any avid comic book reader.
“Your face boy! Who did this to your face?”
David Hine has been working in comics since the 1980’s. After his graphic novel Strange Embrace was published in the USA he was hired by Marvel to write several series, including District X, Daredevil: Redemption, Silent War and Spider Man Noir. He also wrote Spawn for three years, created Poison Candy for Tokyopop and The Bulletproof Coffin with Shakey Kane for Image. He previously adapted the story “The Colour Out of space” for SelfMadeHero’s The Lovecraft Anthology: Volume 1.
Mark Stafford writes, paints and draws. He is co-creator of the Cherubs! Graphic novel with Bryan Talbot, and previously collaborated with David Hine on “The Colour Out of Space” for SelfMadeHero’s “The LoveCraft Anthology; Volume 1”. He is the long-standing cartoonist-in-residence for The Cartoon Museum in Londo, and writes about cinema for Electric Sheep magazine.
Author / Artist: David Hine and Mark Stafford
Full colour print