Aside from reading comic books, I’m a huge fan of reading books in general. As a wee bookworm I had a habit of bringing books everywhere I went. They were like security blankets or toys; I’d bring one to the doctor, to the dentist, to my friends’ birthday parties. No matter the terrifying scenario, Roald Dahl and Shel Silverstein would get me through it.
Now being the end of August, school is starting up again (at least down here in Florida.) Many of you middle school and high school babies will get to experience the joy of “required school reading.” Oftentimes the books would surprise me and become an instant favorite. Many of them seemed so grown up with adult themes, language or violence. I felt changed, older, or wiser after I had read them. But I also distinctly remember the books that sucked, to put it in teenage terms. These sucky books were boring; the language difficult to read, the story too roundabout. I was never really sure what the point of the book was, or how I was supposed to feel after reading it. These books made me doubt why they were dubbed “classics.” Of course we all have differing opinions on which classic books are “good,” but I’m sure you all have a few books in mind like these. Point is: there are numerous good and bad classics that would highly benefit from being in comic book form.
- The first book that jumped to my mind was Lord of the Flies by William Golding. It’s a simple tale about a group of British boys stuck on a deserted island. Left on their own, they try to govern themselves and descend into savagery. This book scared the hell out of me when I read it around 7th grade. The tale speaks volumes about human nature, civilization, power. And it’s pretty graphic about how vicious the boys become. Given the right narration style and an artist with a keen eye for details, I think a Lord of the Flies comic book would be both horrifying and amazing. I’d nominate Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead) as a writer and Yanick Paquette (Swamp Thing) as artist. Kirkman is very well versed on human nature, like Paquette is well versed in drawing memorable scenes of gore.
More possible comics: A Clockwork Orange, The Catcher in the Rye
- The most common book title suggested to me on Twitter was Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984) by George Orwell, which I expected. When I think “sci-fi dystopian”, that book and that author immediately come to mind. The book was so good and so everlasting that its themes and concepts have affected culture to this day. How many movies, comic books, and TV shows can you name with a powerful, omnipresent government as the villain (or the norm?) Even if you haven’t read this book, you’re probably familiar with it in some way. I’d want Jonathan Hickman (Secret, The Nightly News) and Sean Murphy (Punk Rock Jesus) as artist. Hickman does dystopian stories well, and if you haven’t seen Murphy’s stunning black-and-white art in Punk Rock Jesus, you need to make a trip to your LCS.
Similar possible dystopian comics: Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451
- As for classic books I absolutely hated, I’d suggest giving the comic book treatment to Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Ben H. Winters, a parody novel of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. Nothing against Austen and her English literature counterparts, but to this day I find it impossible to get through books like theirs. I honestly don’t remember much of Sense and Sensibility since I couldn’t focus my attention on it (I had to force myself to read the Wikipedia plot summary.) Adapting the hit parody book would definitely make for an interesting comic. It’s already been done to the more popular parody, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Along with Winters as writer, I’d want Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning (Guardians of the Galaxy, The Hypernaturals) on the team. They’re already writing The New Deadwardians, which has zombies in Britain! As for art, I’d choose Jae Lee for his gorgeous work on Before Watchmen: Ozymandias. He seems like someone who could depict frilly bonnets, floral country sides and tentacle sea monsters.
Other snooze worthy books improved as comics: The Scarlet Letter, Jane Eyre
Last week I listed some of my favorite comic-book-to-movie adaptations. There are some that are literally brought to life with a well done film adaptation. Almost all of the above novels have already been adapted into movies, some successful and some not. I think the comic book medium would expand on the stories. It would make dry English literature more thrilling. Comics would give readers an idea of worlds such as Nineteen Eighty-Four’s Oceania. Comics would make the horror of boys turning savage on each other more real. Would you read/have read these classics for school if they were in comic book form? What other books would you like to see as comic books or graphic novels?
Follow Jess on Twitter @LadyGeeksUnite.