Aline Brosh McKenna may be best known as the writer of the movies The Devil Wears Prada and 27 Dresses, and the writer and executive producer of the CW show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Now she’s added comics to her resume after turning Charlotte Bronte’s classic novel Jane Eyre into a graphic novel.
Jane, an updated version of the story written by McKenna and illustrated by Ramon Perez (A Tale of Sand), will be published by Archaia, an imprint of BOOM! Studios, on September 19. In this version, Jane is a small town girl who moves to New York to go art school. She lives in Brooklyn—her roommate is a fashion designer and drag queen—and she works as a nanny for the mysterious and powerful Mr. Rochester.
PW talked with McKenna about what a 170-year-old novel has to offer modern readers and how she brought the story into the 21st century.
What drew you to Jane Eyre?
I have always loved that book. I remember reading it when I was about 11 or 12 and walking through my house with my nose in the book and not wanting to go downstairs for dinner and holding the book in my hand and weeping [because I had to stop reading].
The thing that spoke to me more and more as I matured was the romance with Rochester. I realized, as someone who had written a lot about male-female relationships, how much that relationship had imprinted itself on me: The remote and damaged man who looks past the superficial charms but is hampered by another woman. It’s a very strong love template.
What did you want to keep from the original?
To me, the essence of it is Jane’s goodness and her loving-ness and her longing for family and longing to belong somewhere and her steadfast honesty and purity that pierces the heart of this lonely man.
How did you create the supporting characters, such as Jane’s roommate?
I was trying to find companions for her story that I thought would suit her and teach her and interest her. There’s a gravity and sadness to the Jane Eyre character, which is why I always loved her….