Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

WHAZAMO! Graphic Versus Novels

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It's been an amazing month of literary comics here at Whazamo with each cartoonist bringing their own unique approach to the challenge of adapting or representing their chosen book. Of course we're not the first to mix mediums, there are many excellent examples of cartoonists who have been moved to turn prose into comics.

David Mazzuchelli got his start superheroes like drawing Frank Miller's Daredevil and Batman: Year One. Perhaps those two patron saints of crimefighting were what inspired to take the themes further in the adaptation of Paul Auster's metaphysical mystery City of Glass. What begins with a simple phone call turns into an unravelling of identity; something made all the more apparent by the cartoonist's bizarre shaping of word balloons, that trail off in unusual directions. The resulting story takes the shifting meaning of words and the symbols, to twist and subvert the very idea of solving a crime.

Creepier still is Peter Kuper's adaptation of the Kafka's The Metamorphosis. In scratchy black and white cartooning, the fable becomes more concrete, the pain and the humor of the situation more expressive in Gregor's every flinching glance.

Perhaps the biggest undertaking in novel-to-comic adaptations is former Toronto resident Darwyn Cooke's adaptation of the Richard Stark's Parker series. A set of hard-boiled crime novels about a sixties bank robber who has been double-crossed and is now out for revenge:they're sort of like Mad Men meets Sin City, filled with hot dames, and hard crooks. In addition to the pleasures of Cooke's retro cartooning and powerful visual storytelling, each book has the added pleasure of getting an insiders view of big heist or score through the inclusion of their maps and plans. Definitely recommended.

And finally, as more of a literary remixer than adapter, there's no-one better than Robert Sikorak.

His collected Masterpiece Comics shows his incredible art of mash-up such as Dostoyevsky Comics, which plunges Crime and Punishment into Batman's Gotham; Dagwood and Blondie as Adam and Eve dodge an angry lord in a take on the Bible; and the Crypt of the Brontes, where EC style horror meets Victorian gothic. Truly something for everybody!

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Ian Daffern

Ian Daffern directs and produces documentary videos and writes about books and comics for places like Quill and Quire, The Globe and Mail and The National Post. He's also half of the mighty writing team behind Freelance Blues, your favourite new supernatural-horror-comedy comic (tm).

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