Back in print after more than four decades, the first of Jean-Claude Forest's BARBARELLA graphic novels is getting a deluxe edition with an excellent new English translation by Kelly Sue DeConnick that breathes new life into the material. I've had the 1966 Grove Press version for a long time and know it quite well, so I was very pleased to read DeConnick's version, which rewrites the dialogue to be more naturalistic and not stiff like the very formal translation of forty-eight years back.
And while those familiar with Barbarella from the famous Jane Fonda movie version will note that the film cribs its plot from the graphic novel's second half — The first half being a series of meandering and not-all-that-interesting random adventures and sexual encounters, though the second half more than makes up for the first half's made-up-on-the-fly plotting — and will be surprised to find that Barbarella of the comics is a lot different from the innocent found in the movie. Here she is tough and sexually aggressive in the manner of a woman who has been around, and she displays little of the semi-goofy aspect that Fonda so memorably brought to the screen.
And though its once-scandalous sexual content is now tame to contemporary perceptions, it all wears its 1960's Frenchness on its sleeve and it's quite charming in its quaintness. (If created today, I shudder to think of how modern explicitness would rob the material of a lot of its whimsical fantasy vibe.)
This edition is an expensive hardcover at $79.99, so if you're going to snag it I recommend doing so via Amazon, where it's nearly half-off of the cover price. Whatever the case, it's definitely a recommended addition to the shelves of any serious student of international comics and it will be released on September 17th.