I remember a time when you couldn't go out in public without seeing someone reading one of Stieg Larsson's Lisbeth Salander/Dragon Tattoo novels. With the three books and a couple versions of the movie, Vertigo released the first volume of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO last November, adapted by Denise Mina.
The second volume of the first novel was released in May and we had the chance to ask Denise about writing the graphic novels as well as whether or not we can expect more.
Comic Vine: What was it like adapting Stieg Larsson's novel in comic format?
Denise Mina: A real joy. It's lovely writing comics again, it's so stimulating and a great discipline for prose writers. It shows you how much you can leave out. The story is great and the characters and themes are wonderful to play with.
CV: Did you find you had to change scenes so they'd play out better in the comic?
DM: Quite a few things, because there's no internal monologue in a comic, unless you have a narrator. You can't have someone go off and realize something which is very common in crime novels. You have to show things. I don't think comics work unless most of the story is in the graphics. Also the balance between Salander and Blomkvist had to be more even. She's not in it very much but you'd notice that in a comic more.
CV: We had about six months in between volumes. Did you write the entire script at once or work on Volume 2 after 1 was released?
DM: We've been staggering them so that the artists can work consistently but we're doing book 2 (The Girl Who Played with Fire) as a single book. I've been writing a quarter of a book at a time but shifted to half a book at a time. My hands ache! It's the formatting more than anything else.
CV: Did you know right away where you'd break the book up or did it just fall into place as you were writing the first volume?
DM: The first book falls into two quite easily but the second book is more complicated, it's fatter too so there's more to lose.
CV: What was the hardest part in adapting the novel?
DM: Making sense of why all women want to have sex with a chubby, bankrupt, slightly whiney middle aged journalist. Really difficult.
I think Larsson very explicitly made the book a sex fest because he wanted to popularise political, feminist crime writing by putting more sex in but it's not that credible. By shifting Salander's second sexual encounter to after he gets attacked, that makes it a pity move, but a lot of his sexual encounters just had to be dropped. In the US movie they cast Daniel Craig but he seems too groomed to be as melancholy as Blomkvist should be. It's a problem, i think.
CV: Has there been any talk of adapting the other novels?
DM: No, I'm happy doing these but I don't know if I would want to do any others. Its a massive amount of work.
CV: What if Vertigo asked you to do an original story with Lisbeth?
DM: I'd be up for that.
You can find volumes 1 and 2 of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO in comic shops and book stores. THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE is due in the Fall.