Tobias Carroll on the Generating Power of Literary Adaptation
Since the advent of language, there is a form of its transmission. Comic book creators have long used literary sources for inspiration or direct retelling. We have come a long way since Classics Illustrated, in which a brief retelling of the novel was presented through illustrations and simplified phrases. Adaptation by David Mazukelli of the “Glass City” by Paul Oster is a notable work in itself, and also neatly mixes the aesthetics of two great authors. Although this is the challenge of adapting one format to another. For every harmonious adaptation that conveys the essence of the work, there are many who believe that the literal transfer of one format to another is normal. However, “normal” is the exact opposite of what we have in the end. Instead, we get an adaptation that loses something fundamental in the source material, acts as a kind of shorthand shorthand and fails both as an adaptation and in itself. A good example of successful adaptation is the graphic novel by Peter Cooper “Kafkaian” (Kafkaesque). Cooper’s stylized characters, often oozing elements of socio-political criticism, have their own bold aesthetics and seem both outdated and ahead of their time. In the preface of Kafkian, Cooper talks about the process of illustrating stories, which are a mixture of works based on the work of Kafka and his original stories, thematically intertwined. “I decided to work in the scuffing technique, on coated ink-coated paper that was scratched like a woodcut,” Cooper writes. “German expressionism and the artists I love, such as Kete Kolwitz, Georg Gross and Otto Dix, who were contemporaries of Kafka, pushed me to this.” That is, Cooper was looking for an artistic style that simultaneously combined a style that inspired him, and turned to the artistic contemporaries of the writer, whose work he adapted. This helped him create a sense of book integrity, whether it be the story of Kafka or Cooper. Cooper is also not afraid of straightforward statements when adapting Kafka into a comic book. In the preface of the book, he notes that Kafka most likely did not see his story “Before the Law” as “an answer to institutional racism”, but notes that he “understood it” in a similar way. Cooper does not treat Kafka’s stories as scriptures that should remain untouched, instead they change over time. And precisely because of this, you can see that Kafka’s work remains relevant to this day. There is an obligation to implement clear interpretations of these stories, and so that they resonate with the reader, Cooper, who has been creating comics for decades, creates something that seems new. Direct adaptation of the works is not the only intersection of prose and comic book. Many comic artists turn writers’ biographies into panels, pictures, and dialogs on pages. And they also have different genres. In The Red Virgin and the Vision of Utopia, Mary and Brian Talbot use an extensive historical base to tell the story of French feminist and anarchist Louise Michelle. Spanning years and continents, this comic is comparable to Oscar-winning films (if there were Oscar-winning films about radical thinkers). On the other side of the spectrum is “Frankenstein’s Womb” by Warren Ellis and Marek Olecki. This is a more concise work, a fairy tale bordering on metaprose, telling about the creation of Mary Shelley by her Frankenstein. In this comic book, the roots of the book sprout from the author’s biography, but this appears to us in a more experimental form. This is a brief look at Shelley’s life and the impact of her work, but he is far from dry retelling. Given the increased interest in biographies, it is not surprising to discover a new biographical outlook on the life and work of Hannah Arendt. In “The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt: A Tyranny of Truth”, Ken Krimstein tells her biography in all its historical scope and philosophical research in the form of a large graphic novel, narrated on behalf of Arendt herself. Krimstein’s style most often comes to the fore when the narrative becomes atmospheric or theoretical. “Three Escapes” is also replete with footnotes, which is understandable, since throughout the life of Arendt various writers, historians and philosophers have surrounded. Not every reader knows who, for example, Salo Wittmayer Baron (Salo Wittmayer Baron), and short biographies of him and other historical figures do not allow the book to get bogged down in the exhibition. Krimstein’s book ends with a large section “I recommend reading”, in which he offers both works by Arendt herself and books about her life, and, led by a narrative that is replete with heated philosophical debate, delves into some debates about the scholarship related to Arendt, which has already appeared after her death.