Thursday, 1 April 2010

Comic Classics

There has been a long tradition of comic versions of classic literature: the Classics Illustrated series began in 1941, and ran for 30 years, for example. I have read very few such adaptations, but have nothing against them in principle: a comic version is like a film version--almost certain to be inferior, but with the potential to do some things visually in a way that text on a page cannot. Because of this, I was interested to come across the publications of Selfmadehero, a company dedicated to comic adaptations of classic fiction, crime fiction, and Shakespeare (see below).

I'm posting the covers of their classic adaptations here because it's interesting to see these visual approaches to great works.

I have to say that I'm tempted to see what Andrzej Klimowski makes of Robert Louis Stevenson, and Martin Rowson seems a natural fit for Tristram Shandy. I do have an older graphic novel by Rowson, who is most famous as an incredibly savage political cartoonist: it's a weird book that recasts T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land as a detective story.

Among other books, he's also done a cartoon history of the universe, entitled Fuck: The Human Odyssey.

Selfmadehero's Shakespeares, by the way, are all done in manga style:


Matthew Adams said...

I have the tristam shandy graphic novel, but i have not been able to bring myself to read it. It is dense with text, and the drawings were insane in the amount of work that would have gone into them. I tried to read it but my head almost exploded. I suspect that in this case the novel would actually be easier to read.

Craig D. said...

Don't let cranky old Harold Bloom see that "Manga Shakespeare" stuff. The poor man's head will explode.

Roger said...

Even in the Lilliput Press limited edition of T.S. Rowson's illustrations have been reduced to an inconvenient size. Well what would you expect from a company with that name?
Rowson's version of The Waste Land has been turned into an opera