The Body-Snatcher

The Body-Snatcher - Vincent Goodwin This is a decent graphic novel adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's short story "The Body Snatcher", aimed at a juvenile audience. I was surprised at first that the introductory scene - where Fettes and Macfarlane have a hostile confrontation in their later years - was omitted but I understand that considering the medium and the intended reader it is probably wiser to jump right in to the action. Still, the aforementioned scene is meant to stir curiosity about why Fettes despises Macfarlane so much, building up to the flashback where all is explained. Also, with its being cut, it now makes no sense for the narrative to refer to the main story happening in the characters' "young days" (which it still does).

Another minor nitpick I have is that there is talk of bodies having been donated to science. The doctor tells Fettes this to reassure him about their origins. However, in the time period "The Body Snatcher" is to have taken place, the public feared dissection and no one would donate their bodies willingly. Anyone in the medical profession would have certainly known that, for the shortage of cadavers was a big deal, hence the body snatching. All of them had to have been executed criminals, stolen from graves - or were, as here, the results of murder. Fettes would be incredibly naive indeed to think an explanation like that was plausible (in fact, in the original, he is said to have 'visit[ed] and desecrate[d] some lonely graveyard[s]' to procure corpses himself prior to the events of the tale). Note that this dialogue about body donors was added for the graphic novel and is not from Stevenson's story.

I still found it to be an enjoyable adaptation that conveyed the thrilling horror of the classic original in a way that would appeal to kids and teens. It just might pique their interest enough for them to read Stevenson's story and give them a desire to learn more about the time period and historical figures that inspired it. The artwork is very well done; I like the designs for the characters and their expressiveness. The backgrounds and the color palettes used effectively bring to life the gothic setting of Georgian Edinburgh.