Saturday, October 15, 2011

...As a graphic novel? Really?

I just saw THE KITE RUNNER as a graphic novel at the store the other day. Yes, that is Kahled Hosseini's stunning novel, THE KITE RUNNER. As a graphic novel. When I came back to the information desk after seeing it, I asked J., who is a fan of the medium (definitely more so than I), if THE KITE RUNNER should be a graphic novel. It seemed wrong to me, but maybe someone who really likes the genre has a different take on the subject...

"I just saw THE KITE RUNNER graphic novel back there. Should THE KITE RUNNER be a graphic novel?" I asked.


"No, I don't think so. Just because the medium is there doesn't mean that a book should be made into a graphic novel. Not all books translate well into graphic novels. Even Neil Gaiman (of whom J. is a huge fan) has had some books made into graphic novels and..." he shook his head. "It just didn't work."

I know that WUTHERING HEIGHTS is a graphic novel, as is PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. And JANE EYRE. And THE CANTERBURY TALES. It seems that many of the classics are being turned into graphic novels.

I do understand the inclination that perhaps in graphic novel form these stories will be more accessible to people who would not otherwise be exposed to or interested in them.

It's not that I don't like graphic novels; I have read some incredible ones. Craig Thompson's BLANKETS is one, as is Marjane Satrapi's PERSEPOLIS, and Alison Bechdel's FUN HOME. These are memoirs for which the graphic novel medium seems to be the perfect vehicle for the authors to tell their stories.


Am I a purist? Is making a book into a graphic novel any different than turning a book into a movie? That is, bringing the story to a new medium, perhaps bringing something new to it?

I don't know, I guess I can't make generalizations about all graphic novels. I just know that my heart just sinks when I hear that some books have been turned into graphic novels. And it makes me want to keep my eye out for the really good ones.

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  1. There was actually a line of graphic novels which re-told classic books. I remember them as being very good. Whether or not The Kite Runner would work, it depends on the writer and artist.

  2. You are absolutely does depend on the writer and the artist. Maybe I should take a closer look at The Kite Runner graphic novel and see if it's done well. Thanks for commenting!