THE MERCHANT OF VENICE

A graphic-novel treatment of Shakespeare that fails miserably where others have succeeded. In this brutally savaged graphic adaptation of the play, the Bard’s lines have been transformed into conversational banality (“How is it going, Shylock?”; "That goes for me too!") within often-misplaced dialogue balloons. Astonishingly, there’s nary a mention of Jews, leaching all the power from Shylock's "Has not a Jew..." speech ("And why has [Antonio] done this? Do I not have eyes like everyone else..."). Actually, just about all of the set speeches are nearly unrecognizable: "The quality of mercy is not strained" becomes “You don’t need to have a reason to show mercy.” Visually, the floridly dressed Venetian figures in Kumar’s showy illustrations just stand about in panel after panel, gesturing awkwardly and looking past one another’s shoulders. Portia’s taste for revealing, off-the-shoulder gowns may give adolescent gawkers pause, but as an invitation to read the original or see it performed here’s sure proof that all that glisters is not gold. A closing set of riddles is offered as an activity link to Portia’s three boxes in the play. Skip. (Graphic adaptation. 12-14)

Pub Date: May 17, 2011

ISBN: 978-93-80028-59-0

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Campfire

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2011

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THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN

This slender graphic adaptation of the Great American Novel preserves some of Twain’s language, most of his plot and a good sense of his sardonic take on human society. Mixing dialogue balloons with enough boxed narrative to evoke Huck’s distinctive voice, Mann packs in all of the major incidents and tones down at least some of the violence—the two con men are only “punished” here rather than specifically tarred and feathered, for instance. Similarly, though Huck gets viciously slapped around by his father in the pictures, in general there isn’t much other blood visible. The illustrator’s faces tend toward sameness, but Kumar populates his color art with strong, stocky figures, depicts action effectively and, by using irregular frames and insets, sets up an engrossing helter-skelter pacing. A good choice for readers who aren’t quite up to tackling the original, with perfunctory but well-meant notes on Twain’s life and the history of slavery in the United States. Co-published with its prequel, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, adapted by Matt Josdal, illustrated by Brian Shearer (ISBN: 978-93-80028-34-7). (Graphic classic. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2010

ISBN: 978-93-80028-35-4

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Campfire

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2010

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Though classified as a graphic novelist, Delisle has claimed territory all his own as a graphic-travel memoirist.

BURMA CHRONICLES

Insightful, illuminating memoir of a year under a totalitarian regime.

In 2005-06, Delisle (Shenzhen: A Travelogue from China, 2006, etc.) accompanied his wife, who works as an administrator for Doctors Without Borders, to the country recognized by the United Nations as Myanmar. The United States and other democratic countries, however, still call it Burma, refusing to recognize the legitimacy of the military junta that seized power in 1989. As in the illustrator’s previous adventures in China and North Korea (Pyongyang, 2005), the focus is less on politics and more on the lives of the people he encounters—though such lives are profoundly shaped by politics. He comes to accept checkpoints and censorship as routine, and he does his best to find a suitable home, survive with intermittent electricity and Internet access and take care of his toddler son Louis, whose charm transcends cultural borders. The author also fears malaria, bird flu and poisonous snakes, though the DWB medical community provides more comfort than much of the Burmese citizenry enjoys. Delisle writes and illustrates a children’s booklet on HIV, an important contribution to a country in which heroin and prostitution are rampant. As in previous volumes, his eye for everyday detail combined with droll, matter-of-fact narration humanizes his 14-month experience in a country that might seem traumatic, even intolerable, in other hands. “There were no demands and no uprisings either,” he writes. “Things are always very calm here, thanks to a regime that creates paralysis by fomenting fear on a daily basis.” The undercurrents of Buddhism throughout the book culminate in his visit to a temple, where his meditation proves transformative.

Though classified as a graphic novelist, Delisle has claimed territory all his own as a graphic-travel memoirist.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-897299-50-0

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2008

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