A variety of artists rise to a unique literary and visual challenge.



A subversive volume that translates a series of complex works of literature into a single-page illustration.

Every picture tells a story, and the pictures in this book invite readers to interpret the story anew. As Mr. Fish notes in the introduction, these artists “capture the meanings and essence—perhaps even to reveal the deeper truths previously neglected by the keenest of readers—of some of the world’s most famous books.” Later, he continues, “the fact is, an image, whether snapped or rendered, does something that the written word cannot: it communicates a version of reality instantaneously, one that informs immediately without first needing to be assembled brick by syntactic brick, then cognitively deciphered and then paired with the appropriate sense memory, moral contrivance, and rote definition before its meaning and intentions can be made clear.” Some of the contributions are comics with captions—often very funny—and a few are more like a comic-strip panel. Others are wordless images that require no explanation or ones that allow readers to actively participate in the interpretive act. Some have the feel of abstract art. Regardless of the specific form, each renders a familiar classic from a fresh perspective. It’s difficult to misinterpret—or improve upon—Mr. Fish’s rendering of A Brief History of Time as the sand in an hourglass, and Ted Rall offers a sardonic modern update on The Scarlet Letter, depicting a man telling Hester Prynne, “Just wait until online slut-shaming!” Mr. Fish is particularly spot-on in his take on Catch-22: A man stands at the base of a giant wall, the shadow of the Grim Reaper washing over him and a noose hanging from the top of the wall, on which three military officials look down and say, “Quick, soldier! Stick your head in and we’ll pull you up!” Other entries include Metamorphosis, War and Peace, Nineteen Eighty-Four, and Infinite Jest.

A variety of artists rise to a unique literary and visual challenge.

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-61775-796-9

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Akashic

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.



The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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