How Graphic Novel Adaptions of Classics are Creating Accessibility

We are very used to seeing adaptions of Graphic Novels these days. This summer alone we saw the releases of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Antman, and Fantastic Four. What we are not used to seeing as much, but is happening just as frequently, are graphic novel adaptions of classical pieces of literature. One of these adaptions (Marvel’s Pride & Prejudice) is mentioned in egajeton’s article from about a year ago, on this very blog. Their focus, however is more on how these graphic novel adaptions, and graphic novels and general can be used in the classroom. This article will have more of a focus on how these adaptations increase the accessibility of those classic stories to those who have a hard time reading normal texts, but have no issue reading comics.

Copyright Candlewick 2010
Copyright Crown 2003

An article that Scholastic put out, that egajeton used in their own article is something that I have found useful particularly because of its discussion of motivation. There are plenty of texts that are awesome and wonderful, and that as a Literature nerd, I have no problem dedicating part of my life to reading them. However, as a future teacher, I know that this not the case with everyone. Not very many people would like to voluntarily read something as long as Homer’s The Odysseyor something as confusing as Kafka’s MetamorphosisThese people may, however, be more likely to want to read those stories, in another form, that form being the graphic novel.  Graphic novels are often times easier for people to process, because in a hyper busy world, filled with distractions and different images everywhere, graphic novels allow us to focus on more than one thing.

Copyright Bloomsbury USA 2010
Copyright Bloomsbury USA 2010

Graphic novel adaptions of classic works, also provide us with an interesting alternative to the common excuse of “I’ll just watch the movie,” for classic works of literature and other works of traditional narrative fiction. Graphic novel adaptions allow people to read them in a form that in some ways, often times feels just like watching a movie. As we discussed during our reading of Watchmen, many graphic novels utilize the same techniques as movies, they have panning shots, and it is not a stretch of the imagination to believe that each panel could be equated to a shot in a movie. This break down, in a sense provides the same simplification of traditional narratives by make them into movies, but in adapting them to graphic novels it allows the narratives to contain more of what is the core of meaning than movies tend to. A great example of this is Seymour Chawst’s adaption of Dante’s The Divine ComedyChawst adapts both the characters of Dante and Virgil, giving them more modern or contemporary features that make their journey through the circles of hell, just a little bit more relatable than the original text.

Graphic novel adaptions of classical works are a growing trend that is not going away, and for good reason. These adaptions are increasing the accessibility of some classical texts already, and as these adaptations continue to come out more and more, classic stories will be able to be read in new and exciting ways, by old and new readers alike.