Wednesday, January 23, 2013


As a onetime cartoonist, and someone who often storyboards a scene I'm writing so I can see what's going on, I was irresistibly drawn (ahem) to "The Exile: An Outlander Graphic Novel." Scripted by Diana Gabaldon, it's a compacted version of roughly the first third of her popular historical novel, "Outlander" (one of my favorites), illustrated by Hoang Nguyen in hardcover graphic novel format. Except, just to liven things up, this time Gabaldon tells the story from Jamie's viewpoint.

Gabaldon assumes you already know the story, so wastes little time or ink on Claire's backstory, or how she comes to be the woman who fell to Earth in the middle of the 18th Century Scottish Highlands.  The focus is on Jamie, delivered back to Scotland in the dead of night with a price on his head, accosted by a rough-hewn guard of Highlanders, attempting to navigate rugged terrain and dicey clan politics while pursued by his sinister English nemesis, Captain Jack Randall.

But more important than plot here is the seductive invitation to actually see Claire and Jamie's world. (In addition to the gigantic IMAX, 3D, sensurround visuals readers create in our heads while reading, of course.) Marvel and Dark Horse veteran artist Nguyen contributes mood- and mist-drenched images of eerie Highland landscapes and moonlit standing stones, plenty of two-fisted action, pageantry, and character-bonding. And, seriously, who doesn't want a ringside seat for one of Claire and Jamie's epic love scenes?

(Although the blood-spewing brawling, knife fights and shoot-outs get a wee bit over-the-top, in the manner of comic book violence.)

Still, Nguyen manages to infuse a high degree of personality into the main characters' faces. (Although I can't say the same for the other random clansmen in the story, most of whom look alike to me. Even the pivotal Murtagh, Jamie's godfather, isn't always grizzled enough to distinguish him from the pack.)

In this, Nguyen had the benefit of Gabaldon's input, as revealed in the enlightening "Making Of..." section in the back of the book; not surprisingly, the author has very clear ideas of what her characters look like, right down to Jamie's cowlick, and wasn't shy about suggesting subtle changes until the artist "saw" them correctly, too.

In this section too, the editor thoughtfully includes a link to DG's website where you can see the unexpurgated version of that infamous love scene panel. Pretty entertaining all around for seasoned "Outlander" fans.

Btw, I found my copy remaindered at Logos right around Christmastime. There may still be some left!


  1. Next time I'm in Logos, I'll look for it.

  2. The last time I saw one, it was next to the other Gabaldon books on the Fiction shelves upstairs.