Wednesday, December 07, 2016

“More of Gravy than of Grave” | Graphic Classics, Volume 19: Christmas Classics (2010)



Alex Burrows and Micah Farritor's severely abridged version of the story goes from Scrooge's standing outside his door (and in front of the knocker so that we can't see it) to Marley's spectral face.

Burrows and Farritor continue letting the art do the work, focusing mostly on mood. There's no text and Scrooge doesn't even speak until Marley appears. He seems unaffected, calmly closing the front door and not even flinching when a ghostly hearse drives up the enormously wide (fairy tale palaces would be envious) staircase. I noticed before that this Scrooge's defining characteristic seems to be his arrogance. He may just be too cocky to spook.

There's no checking of the rooms. He just goes upstairs to his dinner of gruel. (We're never told that it's gruel, but it's white and lumpy.) I also note that Scrooge's bed is in the same room as the fireplace, which is different from Dickens and the other adaptations where Scrooge has at least two, separate rooms in his little suite. This room is ginormous though and well-cared for. It's not at all the dingy, miserly quarters that I'm used to seeing.

There are no bells in this version, just a klank klank and then Marley merges through the door. One close up of Marley's legs reveals him to be transparent (his chains and boxes are visible through his trousers), but for most of the scene he looks fairly solid. There's just a sickly, purple glow around him.

Marley introduces himself - the first indication in this version of who he is - and when he removes his bandage, his jaw falls apart like a decaying zombie. It's a bit of license, but it looks great and I love it.

The conversation is cut extremely short with only the barest of exposition left in. Basically about Marley's chain and how Scrooge is going to have one, too, unless he's haunted by the coming spirits. Scrooge is clearly freaked out by all this, so there's a hole in his snobbish armor. He doesn't say much though, so there's no indication of whether or not he's learning or changing yet. It's enough to know that he's shaken.

Marley says that the three spirits will all visit Scrooge "this night," so there's our first example of a deviation from Dickens' schedule. His warning delivered, Marley flies through the closed window to join a throng of moaning ghosts outside. No sign of a homeless mother and her child.

3 comments:

Caffeinated Joe said...

I guess this is the version to go to if you want to take in the classic and have minimal time! That Marley, though - most terrifying version yet!

As for the thing about the ghosts and the three nights but it is still Christmas morning when Scrooge finally does wake. How do you take it, from what Dickens wrote? Does Marley misspeak? Does Dickens make a mistake in what he meant to write? I don't get it, I just took it as Dickens writing it wrong and not catching it. Seems presumptuous of me, but otherwise it just doesn't add up.

Michael May said...

That's always bothered me, too. I don't think it's a mistake on Dickens' part, because he acknowledges it at the end. My interpretation of the reason that Scrooge asks the little boy what day it is, is because he expects it to be the 27th. He's pleased, but also surprised to find out that it's Christmas Day. “I haven’t missed it," he says. "The Spirits have done it all in one night. They can do anything they like. Of course they can. Of course they can."

Which still doesn't answer why Marley predicted a three-night schedule to begin with. The only point seems to be to add an extra layer of magic, but that's not really needed. I'm hoping I'll find some kind of clue one of these years during this closer reading.

Caffeinated Joe said...

Makes sense, I guess. Scrooge does think it is happening on Marley's schedule and, you are right, he is surprised when the next morning is only Christmas Day.

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