Austenacious
Jane will keep us together.
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Photo credit: Erica Martinson

Now here‘s a unique marketing strategy: To celebrate and cross-promote the new Marvel Comics Emma, the new Uncanny X-Men (#534) features an alternate cover by Janet K. Lee, the artist behind Emma, featuring Emma Woodhouse as Emma Frost. Get it? Because they’re both named Emma?

Which brings up a point that I kind of hope isn’t as original as I think it is: I’m generally in favor of spreading the Austen universe—ooh la la, genre-speak!—as far and wide as possible, but if we’re going to make graphic novels of Austen novels, why not go all the way? I’m thinking a band of accomplished ladies fighting crime by night, preferably in tall boots and elaborate hairstyles and carrying optional ladylike crime-fighting accessories. They use their powers for the good of proper young ladies everywhere, and have a futuristic lair hidden deep underneath an English country church! There’s a charming, villainous young man with a scandalous past and an insatiable hunger for young girls! Come on: leather and lycra, but with an empire waist? Why hasn’t anybody thought of this before? (Or have they? Readers?)

I call it—wait for it—The A-Team!

…Wait. That can’t be right.

Well, whatever! Behold the power of the ladies of Austen! Insert your own cool 70s artwork as needed.

Elizabeth “Prejudice” Bennet: With a muddy hem and a pair of fine (bionic) eyes, she out-snarks any man!

Fanny “The Faninator” Price: Turns invisible in the presence of basically anybody!

Emma “The Matchmaker” Woodhouse: She always gets what she wants. Always.

Elinor “Dash” Wood: Absorbs the rage and desire of those around her…

Marianne Dash “Wood”: …only to transfer them to her sister!

Anne “The Waiter” Elliot: Will wait you under the table with imperturbable patience!

Catherine “P.I.” Morland: Will ferret out the juicy details…whether they’re accurate or not!

Universe, make it happen.

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Today we are giving props to a sister under the skin, namely, Kate Beaton of Hark! A Vagrant. It makes us wish we could draw, it really does.

Here’s Kate’s take on the I ♥ Mr. Darcy crowd, the shippers, the mashups, and of course, fan fiction.

Lest we think Jane alone inspires Ms. Beaton, check out “Dude Watchin’ with the Brontës”.

You know, speaking as someone with $0.02-worth of knowledge about comics, I think the web has been a great thing for literary and nerdy comics. Would you have seen XKCD in the Sunday funnies? No, because it has math in it, and yet it is the most widely quoted comic among people I know. And as for Wondermark? Not even a chance. The way Wondermark pairs antique and modern is far too weird for The Normal Person, though, come to think of it, he’s probably a brother under our skin (ew). Even if he is kind of steampunk and we’re . . . not? But we do love to relate Austen to the earth-shattering concerns of our day!

Would Jane Austen herself have used comics? (Did she, O scholars of juvenilia?) She could pop off some awesome one-liners, and that makes it easy to connect her with the understated elegance of The New Yorker cartoons or the devilry of Charles Addams. (Was Jane the soul-sister of Wednesday Addams? Discuss.) But in end her forte was the subtle precision of words, lots and lots of words. I think she would have found the text-lite format of even the graphic novel to be a trial. Witness the weakness of Pride and Prejudice tweets compared to the original.

Photo credit: ©Hil. Used under Creative Commons licensing.
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This just in: sometimes, the internet is an awesome place.

Sure, the Google Machine is the source of 98 percent of the self-involvement in the world. Yes, it offs the occasional brain cell.  But sometimes? Sometimes, the internet is just brimming with cool, interesting-if-symptomatic-of-having-too-much-time-on-one’s-hands stuff. To wit: all of the following gems include interesting and/or unusual takes on Jane and her work—and all of them came across our radar within the last few days.

People, if this is the volume of creative Austenian stuff coming out of people’s brains in three days, what are we doing with ourselves? We could be an army! A non-employed, fond-of-neighborhood-news, Empire-waisted army! We could bring back the eating of syllabub. We could encourage the taking of picnics in the countryside. We could offer important insights on the nature of true love, and bring back the social calling card! Hell, we could conquer the universe—or the Home Counties, at the very least—with the power of our lady novels.

Who’s with me?

A comic meditation on Jane Austen mashups from Hark, A Vagrant!, aka awesome history comics by Kate Beaton.

The Reverse Jane Austen Principle, via Pixiepalace. To which we say, yeah! While also sidling offstage to watch 13 Going on 30. Again.

Sex and the Jane Austen Girl, a brand-new web series on Babelgum, based on The Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict.

The appropriate response to much of my high school class, via Jane Austen Today

This woman’s job is to talk to people about Jane Austen! How can we get in on that gig, and do we think it’s brought to you by the letters P, h, and D? Via Jane Austen’s World