Monday, November 9, 2009

Graphic Novel Monday: The Metamorphosis, by Franz Kafka and adapted by Peter Kuper


The Metamorphosis, by Franz Kafka. Graphic adaptation by Peter Kuper. Published 2003 by Three Rivers Press.

Click here to buy The Metamorphosis from via IndieBound.org. I'm an IndieBound affiliate and receive a portion of the proceeds.

As I've said before, I'm not the biggest fan of graphic novels adapted from literary sources; I think it takes a combination of the right book and the right kind of adaptation to really make it work. Novel-length stories are difficult to adapt because by necessity, most of the narration and even most of the dialog has to come out in order for the graphic adaptation to be a readable length, but I think Peter Kuper hit it just right with his adaptation of Franz Kafka's classic The Metamorphosis, about the unfortunate Gregor Samsa, who awakens one day to find he's been transformed into a cockroach.

The story is rendered in beautiful, disturbing and at times chilling chiaroscuro- black on white and white on black, with varied lettering, varied panels. Much of the narration is rendered in a typeface-like script; the lettering changes depending on the emotional content of what's being communicated, and the panels can go from a tiny, claustrophobic closeup to a two-page nightmare dreamscape. Sometimes the pictures take on the shape of bodies or objects, especially at moments of heightened emotion. I loved how Kuper really makes the reader engage with the art and makes the art so central to the storytelling. As they say, it's not just the medium- it's the message.

The fantastical story and adult themes all render the book suitable for older teens and adults. (I think when it comes to literary adaptation in general, if the source material isn't suitable for young children, the adaptation won't be, either.) I really admire the way the artwork and storytelling work together in The Metamorphosis to create a surreal, violent and haunting world. It's a great little book for fans of graphic novels and classic literature alike.

Rating: BUY

FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this review for review from the publisher.

11 comments:

An Anonymous Child said...

I have a feeling I should read the original first...

Nana Fredua-Agyeman said...

all of a sudden I want to read The Metamorphoses. Thanks TBB

bermudaonion said...

I do agree that it's hard to transform a novel into a graphic novel - glad to see it's possible to do it well. I'm not sure I could stomach seeing a cockroach all over the place like that, though.

Tea said...

The photo above does look gross. I bet teen boys would really enjoy this classic written in this form. Grownups who love Horror might enjoy it too.

Andi said...

I'm always iffy about adaptations myself, but this one sounds just wonderful. I'm always a fan of the dramatic chiaroscuro style. I hope my library has it!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

The minute I saw the picture I thought, what a perfect story to re-do as a graphic novel!

Memory said...

I read this many years ago and remember enjoying it. Have you read any of Kuper's other work? He's also done an interesting graphic account of his travels through Thailand with his wife. I believe it's called COMICS TRIPS.

jewwishes said...

Kafka in graphics. Hmm. I will definitely check this out. I have read The Metamorphosis a few years back.

Zibilee said...

I haven't read this book, but if there is a classic out there that would lend itself to a graphic novel, I think this one would be it. I have seen movies that deal with the same themes as The Metamorphosis, and am really very curious to read it. I think I might enjoy this version. Thanks for the heads up!

Rebecca Reid said...

I've heard great things about this graphic novel adaptation! I must make sure to find it when I read the original.

Serena said...

This sounds like a graphic novel that would be right up my alley! Thanks for the great review.