A Princely Pursuit


I’ve been listening the Harry Potter Audio Books by Jim Dale while drawing for the past few weeks. I just started book 7 today and I’m already sad that I’m nearly done with the series. I can’t recommend this audio book series more. Jim Dale absolutely brings each and every character to life with an individual voice and distinct personality. I don’t want to gush too much about how thoroughly I’ve enjoyed each book so far, but I do have to say a sincere apology to anyone I mocked over the last decade or so for getting too involved in “a children’s book.” I didn’t know, ok? I didn’t understand.

With this new found infatuation with the source material, I am finding myself increasingly distraught with the movies. This is odd considering the movies were my introduction to the franchise and what got me interested in the books. It’s like REALLY enjoying your cousin’s Zeppelin cover band, then hearing the real thing and realizing cousin Randy probably shouldn’t have been playing a banjo with vacuum cleaner attachment.

I know you can’t properly film a 700 page book for budgetary and attention span reasons, but some of the omissions and alterations in the movies are just lazy. Entire characters are distilled to one or two lines of dialog and often attributed to the wrong character. Most of the frustration I felt with the series was actually due to issues the movies would address but then leave hanging. I’m excited to see the adaptation of “The Half-Blood Prince” on the big screen, but now I realize not to expect it to be too faithful to the books. If it’s a good film, I can enjoy it for what it is but I’m not expecting them to cover everything. I actually do anticipate that I’ll be staring puzzled at the screen for most of the movie when key plot elements are glazed over or left out entirely.

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  1. I read The Goblet of Fire, then watched the movie and was disappointed at the truncation as a result. So I've switched tactics – I now watch the movie first before getting more in-depth details from the book. 🙂

    Speaking of "switching tactics", forgive my going on a tangent here, but I hope fellow BSG fans gives the "Battlestar Galactica: The Final Five" graphic novel a go. Great explanation of Kobol, the first Earth and the nature of Kara Thrace.


  2. Yes, audio books count as reading..period! And Jim Dale is the freakin’ man! That being said. I agree with your impending doom version 6 about this installment of HP. One of my biggest irks was the omission of Peeves ( scheduled to be played by Rik Mayall) from all movies thus far. But if HP was made the way the obsessive adult fans want it, it would be 9 hours long,come with a full meal, potty breaks & a lengthy,satisfying orgasm. Or feel free to substitute the mighty “O” with a vigorous beating with a sock full of quarters to Alfonso Cuaron for what he did to Prisoner of Azkaban.

    • From my discussions with my friends, who have varying knowledge of the books but took film classes in college, apparently Cuaron's PoA is the best movie out of the series. I just can't get past the fact that he had 15 minutes to blow on a talking shrunken head in the Night Bus, but not a single second to explain how Lupin knows about the Marauders Map or who the Marauders were at all. He also felt the need to replace the werewolf with a fucking rabid lemur.

  3. I liked the Stephen Fry audio books a lot more. I found Dale's voices for the students, especially the female students, kind of grating.

  4. I'm not ashamed to say: I watched the 1st 4 HP movies. Just not in theaters, 'cause there's still that "it's for kids" stigma to a story (can I say saga) of young wizards in training. Why not? My parents read "The Hobbit" and "Lord of the Rings" in high school & college, & we saw the movies AS A FAMILY. Once on vacation WE watched "Sorcerer's Stone" on HBO with nobody calling it crap or gay or anything bad at all!
    But yeah, Joel, I have the same "movies first" dilemma to long running serial fiction. I guess it's just more accessable.
    Best line: "… reads like ass…"

  5. I picked up the entire collection of Harry Potter audiobooks because of your recent tweets and discussion during the podcasts and I have to say I'm really glad I did. Jim Dale's ability to voice hundreds of different characters and give them all distinct voices/personalities is amazing.
    I'm currently in the middle of Goblet of Fire, and hope to have Half Blood Prince done by the time the movie is released.

    Also, this comic is especially poignant because I work in a bookstore and am the only one who didn't read the books when they were first released, so this pretty much reflects the conversations I have all day long.

  6. As someone who's long ago left high school, Harry Potter is pretty much my (badly kept) secret guilty pleasure..
    I've seen every film in the cinema, read most of the books on launch day (even that time a certain website released photographs of every page of the last book, with someone's thumb holding them open), and enjoyed them.
    That's pretty much it though, it's an innocent pleasure. I couldn't tell you the various spell names or anything. D:

  7. Weird, I finished “reading” the seventh book this night/dawn. Be prepared for severe depression once the ride ends.

    I fourth the Stephen Fry rules comment. Guess that means the motion is passed?

  8. I've always thought that every line by each character in a book should just be voiced by different people. Men do the male characters and women the female ones.

  9. I've been reading the books since 6th grade… hell, I have a Harry Potter tattoo… lol Welcome to the club Joel… its not as bad as you think… the capes are kind of breezy!

    (the comment about the cape is a joke! I don't even go to the midnight premiers of the movies… though I do get the day off and have a nice lazy Harry Potter day…)

  10. Sorry, you have it exactly backwards. The books are rambling pieces of barely passable rubbish that badly need editing. The process of re-writing and making them fit into the length of a movie improves them immensely.

  11. BTW since it's considered reading when the head is involved…let's just say I'm reminded of this one time when I was really reading this chick…like a book, if you will.

  12. Joel, I couldn't agree with you more. Dale brings the books to fucking LIFE with his readings, and the movies, particularly from the third one on, suck ASS. I was like you too, got introduced to the franchise in the first two movies, then picked up PoA on tape and never looked back.

    PS To contrast Dale's stellar work, I would refer anyone to the audiobook version of the Star Wars Episode II novelization. God-fucking-AWFUL character voicing, especially Yoda. Made me wonder of Frank Oz was gonna have to choke a bitch.

  13. Joel, I couldn’t agree with you more. Dale brings the books to fucking LIFE with his readings, and the movies, particularly from the third one on, suck ASS. I was like you too, got introduced to the franchise in the first two movies, then picked up PoA on tape and never looked back.

    PS To contrast Dale’s stellar work, I would refer anyone to the audiobook version of the Star Wars Episode II novelization. God-fucking-AWFUL character voicing, especially Yoda. Made me wonder of Frank Oz was gonna have to choke a bitch.
    BTW I love your blog!

  14. I read all the books as they came out, I grew up with these books even though they seemed incredibly stupid as a concept when I was a young lad, but good children's books prevailed and I read 'em all. Harry Potter was like the Post-Pokemon craze for us Gen Y kids. God, I feel old, I'm refering to Post-Pokemon like it was Post-Punk Rock…

  15. i was a fan from the start… i was one of those rabid fans who waited breathlessly at the bookstore on release day. i wonder if i'm alone in this but although the movies have always been enjoyable, they took a lot of the charm out of the books for me. the first three books blew my mind but by the 4th book, i wasn't as stoked. maybe because it took her longer to finish it, maybe the style had just shifted at that point, maybe i had such a different image in my head from what i saw in the movies, maybe a combination of all those things but the "magic" had left me.

    from all the recommendations, it might be worth it to revisit the series as audiobooks and just go through them one right after the other. has anyone else done this?

  16. Ok so this will get me stoned here but even with it's flaws I liekd HP3. It was better than the crammed with everythign but the sink yet stil incoherent first two.

    At some point I just stopped expecting them to adhere to the books – the movies (any movie) is going o be different fro mthe books. The HP movies are flawed, but I think less cluttered and distracting as the series has gone on.

    BTW – Audio books or paper books – it's all inhaling awesome literature.

  17. All this and I'm just left wondering what a banjo crossed with vacuum cleaner parts would sound like. Kind of like, did you ever see that episode of "The Magic School Bus" where Carlos invents that weird instrument? That's the sort of contraption I'm picturing.

  18. Having read all the books first, what's weird is how my perceptions change with the movie. Goblet of Fire (Book 4) is my favorite of the books, because it does the best job of illustrating its themes of responsibility and inevitability. But the movie is just a big, loud mess, with plotlines that no longer make sense because of all the cuts. (and way too little David Tennant)

    The next one, Order Of The Phoenix, is my least favorite book, because it just feels like a bridge between the heavy plot machinations of books 4 and 6. But it's my favorite of the movies, for the same reason GoF is my favorite book.

    I'm so jazzed for the two Deathly Hallows movies!

  19. The Harry Potter movies are the reason why I stopped reading, or re-reading, books before seeing the movies made out of them. It's a lot easier to enjoy the goodness of the films if the plot of the books aren't on my mind

    • Agreed; My policy is to either read a book OR see the movie, but not both. Pert of the reason I haven't seen or read I Am Legend… can't decide which media to visit.

  20. I remember my friend had all of the books (hardcover editions) and all of the audio books. I loved the way the guy in the audio books (pretty sure it was Jim Dale, from everyone's descriptions, I never actually looked) was able to have a different voice for each character, as well as getting all the emotional stuff down perfectly. I'm such a bad fangirl right now, I only have the seventh book in hardcover, and the first one in softcover. The good news is that I picked up The Tales Of Beedle the Bard last week. My favorite part is in Dumbledore's notes on The Wizard and the Hopping Pot, where he wrote about how it was rewritten by Beatrix Bloxam, along with many of Beedle's other tales, to be "more suitable for children":

    "Mrs. Bloxam's tale has met the same response from generations of Wizarding children: uncontrollable retching, followed by an immediate demand to have the book taken from them and mashed into a pulp."

  21. I quit reading Harry Potter because of the fourth movie. The only reason i was sticking with the franchise after book 5 was to see the Quidditch World Cup. I promised Rowling I’d suffer through the rest if it look even passably good in film. Then I sit down in the theater, huge smile on my face, heart beating at way more than a health rate. And we see three guys on brooms for two seconds. That was bad enough, but I was still willing to at least see the rest of the films, until i realized that they hadn’t removed the QWC for time reasons. they apparently had ten minutes to spare when they finished, because they changed the dragon scene. In the book, Harry won that section because it took him all of two seconds. In the film, he spends at least TEN MINUTES flying around the castle. I walked out of the theater for the first time in my life, and I’ll never regret it.

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