Girl With The Dragon Tattoo Raped Again: This Time By A Graphic Novel

Maybe “raped” is a bit too strong of a word to use as a description, though if you’ve actually read the book you’d know why I chose it.


Did you ever play the game “Telephone” as a kid?

It’s where a bunch of people sit in a circle and one person comes up with a phrase or message and whispers it to the person next to them. That person then whispers it to the person next to them, and so on and it gets passed along the circle until the last person says the phrase out loud. By comparing the difference between the original and the way it ended up you see how things are lost in translation. One person makes these words into a contraction, someone puts it in past-tense; a bunch of little changes along the line all add up until what you’ve got is nothing at all like what you started with.

I feel like there’s a big game of Telephone being played with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

DC Entertainment’s Vertigo has announced that they are producing a graphic novel interpretation of the book that’s due out in November of 2012.

I use “interpretation” rather than “adaptation” deliberately because there is no possible way the book can be made into a graphic novel and retain any of the actual value of the story. The book is so layered and psychologically tumultuous that I don’t think even the movie was able to properly capture it. Not to mention that there are a lot of sections in the book that are just too damn…well, graphic to be a graphic novel.

I don’t doubt that there are extremely talented people working on this project:

The beautiful (though inaccurate) cover art is by Lee Bermejo while the main artists are Leonardo Manco and Andrea Mutti. Crime novelist and Vertigo author Denise Mina is supposedly working very closely with “the estate of Stieg Larsson and Hedlund Literary Agency” and will be doing the writing.

What does that even mean, “working closely with the estate of Steig Larsson”??

It means that in an attempt to give the project more credibility, they use some bullshit phrasing to make it sound like they’re working with the author.

I find myself asking; do we really need this anyway?

It’s already a best-selling novel-novel that was then made into a movie twice; once as a Swedish major motion picture and then, more recently, once as an American motion picture, so do we really need a graphic novel version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo just because it’s popular and possible?

Plus it’s going to be the f#$ked up Telephone-version of it: a book translated from Swedish to English, then condensed into a film, then condensed even further into a graphic novel.

I’ll give you an example through the Telephone evolution of the character Lizbeth Salander-

In the book she’s described as being very tiny- under 100lbs to be sure- and extremely skinny with an almost “boyish” body. She has no breasts or hips to speak of (in fact in another book in the trilogy a doctor tells her there was a disruption in her physical development & her body stopped maturing too soon) and never smiles. Her first appearance in the book was described as the following:

“a pale, skinny young woman who had hair as short as a fuse, and a pierced nose and eyebrows. She had a wasp tattoo about an inch long on her neck, a tattooed loop around the biceps of her left arm and another around her left ankle. On those occasions when she had been wearing a tank top, a dragon tattoo can be seen on her left shoulder blade.” She frequently changes her hair color- starting off red, then dying it black, then later a bright lemon-yellow. She also had a lip and nipple piercing and often wore outrageous things: “Salander was dressed for the day in a black T-shirt with a picture on it of E.T. with fangs, and the words I AM ALSO AN ALIEN. She had on a black skirt that was frayed at the hem, a worn-out black, mid-length leather jacket, rivet belt, heavy Doc Martin boots, and a horizontally striped, green-and-red knee socks. She had put on make-up in a color scheme that indicated she might be colorblind. In other words, she was exceptionally decked out.”

Personally, I think the outfit is the author’s way of paying homage to the inspiration for Lisbeth and who he based her off of- Pippi Longstocking.

There was nothing seductive or sexual about her appearance or her manner and she was terrible at forming relationships with people. She was very stand-offish and didn’t like being touched with a suspicious attitude in general and a highly suspicious attitude towards men and authority.

Now keep that description in mind while you look at these: photos from the 2009 Swedish version of the film:





And then these are the promotional photos for the American version:

“I think today I’ll run around topless in the freezing temperatures of winter in Sweden for no particular reason!”




“Please ignore my dumb bloody hands and stupid fake tattoo and just look at the oh-so-sexy bones of my sternum & my hot photo-shopped boobs.”

“Don’t forget- it has to look exactly like Britney’s!”

This is the official international movie poster.

They came out with this more modest one a bit later:

Do I even have to say how completely not like the actual character all of the promo images are? Overly sexualized showing her as submissive, needing Daniel Craig’s arm around her to protect her while she’s shirtless why…? Does she not own tops? Just to show the nipple piercing?

These stills show that the actual movie was slightly more in line with the novel-


until you scroll up and read the description of her from the book again.

And now we have this gorgeous cover of a graphic novel showing the same character.

For some reason she needs to be naked- or at least shirtless- again with sexy made-up eyes, a long, arched back showing down to what would have to be the very limit of the lowest low-rise jeans ever made, and a seductive open mouth with curls of smoke trailing out (wait, isn’t smoking bad for you?)

Something tells me this version isn’t going to be like the book, either. So the story can’t be the same, the characters will all look different, it’s based off something that’s already a book & two movies– DC  says “lets go for it!”

Of course that means that they will also need to do the other two books in the series, right? It’s a trilogy so that’s two more entire graphic novels to produce over the next two years!  It’s perfect for DC: “Big projects” to generate hype and distract everyone from noticing that they aren’t coming up with any new ideas of their own these days that don’t totally suck!

You’re brilliant DC Comics-

it’s why I love you as much as I do.

Tills nästa gång,


Images and Info Sources:

2 thoughts on “Girl With The Dragon Tattoo Raped Again: This Time By A Graphic Novel

  1. I’m not the least bit surprised that Lisbeth Salander got sexed up to market to the American public. While women were an easy sell on the character, as many of them were part of the movie’s target audience who read the book, the sexy Lisbeth seems to be meant to attract the male gaze. I’m not terribly bothered by this as both Noomi Rapace (Swedish version) and Rooney Mara (American version) did commendable jobs portraying the character’s personality on-screen. IMO, Mara looked the part more, being very waifish and otherworldly but Rapace made a more convincing fighter (look at her next to those two guards; that chick looks like she could take both of them!). Its easy to say that the movie makers should’ve been more faithful to the original story, but they’re businessmen and they’ve got a product to sell. That’s all it is.

    Also, you’re making the big assumption that anyone who makes an adaptation to a story shouldn’t make changes because the creator’s word is God. On this, I disagree. Larsson made a few contradictions and questionable choices in in his narrative. In describing Dragan Armansky’s interactions with Lisbeth, he mentions that she’s actually “attractive” and that if she lost all the baubles and makeup she could be a model. Also, he shows Michael Blomqvist nailing nearly every woman in the book despite realism or tastefulness (he and Lisbeth end up in bed just a few months after her disaster with Nils Bjulner – WTF). Finally, how is it that Lisbeth is a well-practiced kick-boxer by the second book, but she’s still a waif who smokes like a chimney? Stieg Larsson had some good ideas, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be called into question here and then.

    TL: DR
    In her own weird way, Lisbeth Salander WAS intended to be an idealized sex symbol if you read between the lines. I dont see the big deal with tarting her up a bit if it gets people interested in the character.


  2. Jules,
    I’m sorry for the delay in writing a response: with just my nephew and the writing I do for work and personal satisfaction I have to prioritize my commitments and trying to reply to this is not high up on the list.

    Wow…there are so many things wrong with your comments I’m having trouble finding where to start. It probably warrants it’s own post based on volume alone considering all the different things I had to correct/address. Though since I control the quality of every item that goes up there’s no way such a thing would ever happen, leaving me only the option of a lengthy “reply comment.”

    For one, I never claimed that “the creator’s word is God” when it comes to adaptations. It is only natural for changes to be made when a story moves from one medium to another. What I have a problem with is adaptations that strip away, or even directly contradict the very
    message the original material. “Tarting her (Lisbeth) up a bit” in order to make her more appealing to an American male audience is completely contrary to what Stieg Larsson was portraying in his novels. In fact, it perpetuates exactly what he was speaking out against!

    Sure, Hollywood is an industry that’s in the business of selling entertainment. Yes, changes are made all the time to film adaptations in order to make them easier to sell. But considering the author was a life-long, die-hard Socialist I really doubt he’d be pleased that Lisbeth has been sexed up for the sake of profit. Personally, I doubt he would have ever given permission for these books to even become movies – especially American-made movies.

    Furthermore, your apathy towards Hollywood’s erosion of Larsson’s story telling is essentially saying that gutting a story for the sake of profit is not just an unavoidable evil, but something we must all simply accept. Frankly, that is total bullshit. Then again, maybe you don’t truly believe your own words and just wanted to seem blasé and jaded about harsh industry “realities” to undermine my point and make my assertions seem naïve and unrealistic. I ask because you’ve also said that art must have meaning. You can’t have it both ways; so which is it, Jules? Do we all just roll over and accept the stripping away of the meaning of art in order to commercialize it? Or is the art’s meaning what makes it valid?

    Where you and I differ most is in our level of understanding regarding you are clearly not intimate with the author’s body of work: your details are confused, your analysis is superficial, your point-of-view extremely narrow and, for lack of a better term, very American. For instance, your assertion that Lisbeth was a “well-practiced kick boxer” by book two, is completely wrong. That was Miriam Wu, not Lisbeth. Similarly, your assertion that Lisbeth “WAS intended to be an idealized sex symbol” in her own way makes me question whether or not you know the meaning of the word” idealized” or what a “sex symbol” actually is.

    Larsson was a well-known opponent of the abuse of women & girls both physically and by government organizations. Personal freedom and choice were paramount to him. The sexual relationships in the book that you called tasteless and lacking in realism were commentary on
    Swedish society. They illustrated that vanilla sex between a man and a woman in love and in a committed relationship is not “right” or even something that works for certain people. They show us that sex and relationships are all based on the basic principles of equality and respect. Your complaint about Mikael “nailing” all the women in the book tells me that your comprehension of the themes Larsson was tackling is quite minimal. Here Larsson was showing traditional sex was not the only, or even best way. For him a healthy sexual relationship was about honesty between consenting adults

    Additionally, Mikael was always honest with the women he became involved with. There were limits to his emotional availability and ability to be monogamous, which he made clear before doing anything physical with anyone. It should also be noted that he wasn’t the one who initiated the many sexual relationships he had throughout the book; all the women approached him.

    Examples of the wrong kind of sex are the only encounters that Larsson goes into explicit detail about, which I’m sure you found distasteful and unnecessary. Obviously this was done to emphasize the horror and evil of such acts, which happen to real women out in the world every day.

    As for your idealized sex symbol claim:

    When you say intended I have to assume you mean by the author since he created her. The women’s rights advocate who found the nature of fame in America and its history of exploiting women deplorable- THAT author created Lisbeth with the intention that she would be so sexually appealing she would become known by the readers for her physical attractiveness above all else??

    Exactly who’s ideal is she supposed to be representing, anyway? In what way does Lisbeth
    qualify as idealized? She’s boyish, damaged, remote, unapproachable, and probably has one of the Autism Spectrum Pervasive Developmental Disorders –this is hardly what most men see as their “ideal” woman. Plus in my experience, the majority of men tend to find women with boobs to be more sexually attractive than women with the bodies of 12 yr old girls, no matter how beautiful in the face she might be. So you really do know what that term means?? I have to ask because Lisbeth is so close to being the exact opposite that it’s utterly ridiculous!

    I would advise looking a little deeper at the books you read and movies you see- perhaps know a little about the author or director to gain insight into his or her point of view- before you start making claims about material you don’t fully understand or attempt to patronizingly contradict someone on their own website.

    Doing this might spare you the embarrassment of repeating such a mistake in the future.


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