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.