Thursday, 25 September 2008

Kafka Comics

The most recent edition to the Penguin Graphic Classics range is Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis and Other Stories, in the new Michael Hofmann translation. (An aside: pretty much any book with Hofmann credited as translator is going to be worth your while--use him as your guide to a wealth of Germanic masterpieces).

This cover is by comics artist Sammy Harkham, editor of comics anthology Kramer's Ergot; Harkham's web presence is, sadly, a nest of dead links, so there's not much more I can tell you about him. The book looks great, though.

It's not the first time Kafka's had this sort of treatment. Peter Kuper, a comics artist influenced by the sort of German Expressionism I keep banging on about on this blog, has adapted both Metamorphosis and a collection of other Kafka tales into graphic editions. Here are the covers, along with some sample inner pages (click for readable versions):


Kafka's life has also been interpreted by another great comics artist, the uniquely odd Robert Crumb, working with David Jane Mairowitz.

And here are a few covers from earlier editions:

Going back to Kuper, he has also adapted Upton Sinclair's depressing muckraking masterwork The Jungle.

You may also remember an earlier comics/Jungle experience, with this Graphic Classics cover by Charles Burns:


Jeff LeVine said...

The artist is Sammy Harkham (not Markham) which is why you're coming up with dead links, I suspect

JRSM said...

Argh! Thanks for that, Jeff, I'll fix the post.

Lucy Fishwife said...

Robert Crumb still gives me the creeps, as a result of my dad taking me to see "Fritz The Cat" when I was 6 - somehow the phrase "X-Certificate" failed to register, and I had nightmares for months. Has Andrzej Klimowski not done a Kafka yet?

JRSM said...

I saw 'Fritz' when I was about 12 or so; gave me the creeps too. Little did we know then that the combination of sexual explicitness and anthropomorphic animals would one day be a well-known (and deeply creepy) subculture.

Andrzej Klimowski would do a great Kafka--his 'The Secret' graphic novel has just the right atmosphere.

ctorre said...

Regarding Sammy Harkham,

He is also the proprietor of the "Family" bookshop in Los Angeles, which has a wonderful and idiosyncratic collection. Their website is worth browsing.