19 literary masterpieces turned into must-have comics
From almost its beginnings, Literature has been taken as a reference by comics when it comes to drawing inspiration in varying degrees of literality. Either to offer a lighter and more digestible version, for pure didactic purposes, to put in images what were only words, or to expand the commercial success of a bestseller, the flow of novels, poems and literary texts of various kinds that end up turned into vignettes
We have made a list of suggestions with adaptations published in the past decade (including some outstanding reissue). As we like to remember, it is only a selection of titles that we consider remarkable, without prejudice to the fact that there are other equally valuable examples that have not been included (which there are).
‘1984’, de Fido Nesti
The Italian cartoonist manages to capture the oppressive authoritarian atmosphere reigning in George Orwell’s novel. With a reverential respect for the original text, Fido Nesti manages to bring the universe of Big Brother to life by providing an elaborate staging and choosing a very successful color palette.
1984. The graphic novel (Best Seller | Comic)
‘Matadero Cinco’, by Ryan North and Albert Monteys
There are adaptations more difficult than others, and there is no doubt that bringing Kurt Vonnegut’s landmark novel to the comic was no easy task. However, Ryan North and, above all, Albert Monteys go much further than expected and turn this multi-temporal anti-war fable into something of their own and almost inseparable. One of the best comics of 2020, and one of the best comic book adaptations in the history of the medium.
Slaughterhouse Five or The Children’s Crusade: A Dance of Duty with Death (Orejero Armchair)
‘The Myths of Cthulhu’, by Alberto Breccia
The recovery during recent dates of the work of the Argentine master Alberto Breccia in careful and respectful editions is excellent news for comic fans. Breccia’s incursions adapting texts by Edgar Allan Poe, Ernesto Sábato or HP Lovecraft are classics in their own right.
The Myths of Cthulhu (Ear Chair)
‘The city of wonders’, by Claudio Stassi
Claudio Stassi walks the streets of Barcelona in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, following in the footsteps set by Eduardo Mendoza in one of the novelist’s most memorable works (And that’s saying a lot). The Italian cartoonist, living in Barcelona, manages to convey the sensations of that bustling Barcelona, of bourgeois luxury and poverty so important so that the transition to images of “The city of prodigies” works like a locomotive.
The city of prodigies (graphic novel): Based on the novel by Eduardo Mendoza
‘The Fall of the House of Usher’, by Raúl García
A peculiar adaptation, that of Raúl García, which uses material from the animated anthology “Extraordinary Tales” which he directed himself, and turns it into a graphic novel. The digital aspect and the way of managing the transition from novel to animation and from animation to comic make it a most interesting experiment.
‘Patria’, by Toni Fejzula
The bestseller by Fernando Aramburu on how ETA terrorism destroys lives, friends and coexistence in a small town in the Basque Country, it became an editorial phenomenon and, later, an audiovisual phenomenon thanks to to its adaptation to series for the HBO platform. Throughout almost 300 pages, Toni Fejzula makes a overwhelming graphic display of great value and manages to consolidate a genuinely interesting identity, which emerges victorious from any comparison.
‘Of mice and men’, by Pierre-Alain Bertola
It seems incredible that John Steinbeck’s novel, absolute classic of American literature, it would never have been adapted into a comic until the Swiss Pierre-Alain Bertola got down to work in the 21st century. The powerful black and white of the cartoonist adjusts perfectly to the intensity of a very harsh story.
OF MICE AND MEN (European Comic (standard))
‘The chess player’, by David Sala
Last work written by Stephan Zweig, This chess novel proposes, as almost always in the texts of the Austrian writer, an attractive and enigmatic approach that develops masterfully. The French David Sala dazzles with an elegant and nuanced staging.
The Chess Player (CMYK)
‘El Horla’, by Guillaume Sorel
One of the great titles of Guy de Maupassant, in addition to una of the heights of fantastic literature of all times. Guillaume Sorel does not shrink from the size of the original and puts his exceptional graphic skills at the service of a comic that manages to offer complementary visions that enrich this new reading modality.
‘Genesis’, by Robert Crumb
The global underground comic genius he assumes a challenge as excessive as his own figure, such as the adaptation of one of the most outstanding religious texts. A display of detail and meticulousness that would have destroyed the patience and sanity of almost any author But, of course, Crumb is a lot of Crumb.
‘Nela’, by Rayco Pulido
The classic by Benito Pérez Galdós in the hands of one of the most prominent Spanish authors of the last decade. Rayco Pulido would be awarded the National Comic Prize with his later “Lamia”, he manages to take the pulse of the nuances and features of Galdós’s characters, transmitting a deep connection with the novelist and, along the way, achieving an excellent comic.
‘Good morning, sadness’, by Fréderick Rébena
François Sagan’s novel featured a masterly adaptation by Otto Preminger with Jean Seberg, David Niven and Deborah Kerr in the cast that cast an almost inescapable shadow on his portrait of the events around a summer on the French Riviera. Fréderick Rébena knows how to overcome the myth and tiptoes through the film to, with the distance of the decades, put together a brave and precious graphic novel.
Good morning sadness (graphic novel)
‘Moby Dick’, by Christophe Chabouté
Only a great comic book master can successfully manage a text like Herman Melville’s novel, an indisputable universal classic, at will. It was achieved by Bill Sienkiewicz in his short unpublished adaptation in Spanish and, of course, also by the French Cristophe Chabouté, with a monumental black and white comic that takes your breath away.
MOBY DICK INTEGRAL (Comic Europeo (norma))
‘Soldiers of Salamina’ by Javier Cercas and José Pablo García
After successfully completing two adaptations of works by Paul Preston on the Spanish Civil WarIt was not difficult to guess that the cartoonist could shine in the adaptation of the excellent novel by Javier Cercas, which he looks at with great respect and precision.
Soldiers of Salamina (Reservoir Graphic)
‘Baztán Trilogy’, by Ernest Sala
Penultimate case of transmedia use of an editorial phenomenon. The crime and mystery novels of Dolores Redondo they were a resounding success that was repeated in its later film adaptation. Ernest Sala, far from noticing the heavy backpack that he was dragging when undertaking this project, culminates his first long work by making the right decisions when it comes to shortening plots and without slowing down in his graphic presentation.
Baztán trilogy deluxe edition (graphic novel)
‘Holds Pereira’, by Pierre-Henry Gomont
The anti-fascist novel by the Italian writer Antonio Tabucchi showed the Lisbon of the Salazar dictatorship at the end of the 1930s with a wealth of detail that the cinema exemplarily captured the immortal Marcelo Mastroianni in one of his last roles, helping to turn the original book into a worldwide phenomenon. Pierre-Henry Gomont makes use of a first-rate chromatic intelligence and a capacity for seduction through drawing that result in a delightful experience.
Holds Pereira (Orejero Armchair)
‘Paradise Lost’, by Pablo Auladell
Brand new National Comic Award, the adaptation of John Milton’s epic poem deliberately seeks to establish a dialogue with the original text in which there are no limits or borders. For this, the Alicante author frees himself from the narrative and formal conventions of the comic, and the result is a unique work of inexhaustible interpretations.
Paradise Lost (Sixth Floor Illustrated)
‘The heart of darkness’, by Loic Godart and Stephane Miquel
Very French adaptation of the great novel by Joseph Conrad. Impeccable graphic execution and pinpoint character fit, plot and spirit in one of those comics so perfect and well solved that they are reread to see if any fault is hunted. We save you the work, because you will not find them.
IN THE HEART OF DARKNESS (European Comic (standard))
‘El castillo’, by David Zane Mairowitz and Jaromír 99
Pure Kafka is precisely what the comic book version of this unfinished novel by the Czech author published posthumously. Surveyor K’s journey through a hazy and unreal environment works especially well as an illustrated story.