10 Graphic Novel Adaptations Of Classic Books That Bring New Energy To The Novels

When most people think of literary classics, they think of trudging through The scarlet letter in high school English class. And when most people think of graphic novels or comic books, they think of super-powered men wearing leggings as pants. But classic literature is much more than just a collection of stuffy old stories about boring people in uncomfortable clothes (except maybe The scarlet letter, this one is quite difficult to defend). And graphic novels are much more than silly drawings of astronauts beating up other astronauts (although there’s nothing wrong with the occasional astronaut fight). Here are some brilliant graphic novel adaptations of classic books.

After all, there’s a reason these books became classics in the first place. Something about the stories they tell resonates on a universal level, whether that story is told through words on a page, actors on a screen, or drawings in a comic book. These graphic adaptations breathe new life into some of the world’s greatest works of literature. So whether you’re a classics junkie trying to read the latest adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, or a comic book fan looking for something a little different from the usual lasers and capes, here are some beautiful, hilarious and versatile graphic novels to check out:

1

‘A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel’ by Madeleine L’Engle, adapted and illustrated by Hope Larson

Anyone who was all nerdy college kids probably remembers when they first found out A wrinkle in time. A grand space adventure starring a clumsy girl who loves math? Sign me the hell up. Hope Larson brings this classic adventure to life with her vivid and imaginative illustrations. It’s a charming adaptation for longtime fans of the book and new readers alike.

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2

‘The Metamorphosis’ by Franz Kafka, adapted and illustrated by Peter Kuper

Remember the time Gregor Samsa woke up to find he had been transformed into a gigantic insect? Tell me you don’t want to see this story reimagined as a dark, comedic graphic novel. Peter Kuper blends his energetic comic style with German Expressionism to bring this deeply unsettling and funny Kafka story to life.

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3

‘Pride & Prejudice’ by Jane Austen, adapted by Nancy Butler, illustrated by Hugo Petrus

Yes, there is a Marvel Comics adaptation of Pride and Prejudice– and it’s damn faithful to the source material. Don’t let the cover fool you: this isn’t a modern take on the story, it’s straight up Pride and Prejudice with nearly all of the original dialogue intact and lush artwork by Hugo Petrus.

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4

“The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson, adapted and illustrated by Miles Hyman

by Shirley Jackson The lottery is one of the most famous (and disturbing) short stories of all time. Jackson’s grandson, Miles Hyman, adapted this weird little story into a stunning graphic novel, which is every bit as chilling and expertly crafted as the original.

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5

‘Fahrenheit 451: The Authorized Adaptation’ by Ray Bradbury, adapted and illustrated by Tim Hamilton

This adaptation is simply haunting. I mean, of course, it’s quite disturbing to read about the burning literature in the original Fahrenheit 451, but the added illustrations by Tim Hamilton are exquisitely beautiful. Seeing those twisting flames painted in such detail adds a dimension of horror to this masterpiece about the central importance of reading.

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6

‘The Book of Genesis’ by R. Crumb

There is only one R. Crumb. If you’re unfamiliar with his work, you owe it to yourself to check out his award-winning word-for-word adaptation of the Book of Genesis (the Bible counts as a classic, doesn’t it?). Crumb brings the Garden of Eden, Noah’s Ark, Sodom and Gomorrah, and everything in between to life in his extremely detailed and wildly inventive visual style.

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seven

“The Tale of Genji” by Murasaki Shikibu, illustrated by Yoshitaka Amano

The Tale of Genji is often called the world’s first novel – it was written around 1000 CE and is mainly about an incredibly handsome prince named Genji who sleeps with many different women and has many spiritual adventures. Yoshitaka Amano illustrated this classic tale with a series of stunning and surreal watercolors, capturing Genji’s supernatural romance and exploits all those centuries ago.

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8

‘The Complete Don Quixote’ by Miguel de Cervantes, adapted and illustrated by Rob Davis

Rob Davis illustrates the original buddy comedy with The Complete Don Quixote. The wacky story of Don Quixote’s quest for adventure is told with whimsical and vibrant illustrations. We follow our favorite knight-errant as he and his trusty sidekick Sancho rescue beautiful girls, battle fearsome enemies and, of course, attack windmills.

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9

‘Kindred’ by Octavia E. Butler, adapted by Damian Duffy, illustrated by John Jennings

Kinship is absolutely essential feminist science fiction reading. A young woman named Dana is pushed back in time to the pre-Civil War South, where she must come to terms with her complex family history. Butler’s exploration of violence and humanity has been adapted into this stunning and unwavering graphic novel.

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ten

‘Masterpiece Comics’ by R. Sikoryak

Who said adaptations always had to be serious? Comic book masterpiece is a deliciously weird and hilarious mix of famous comics and famous works of literature: Crime and Punishment via Batman, Faust like Garfield, The Wuthering Heights as a problem of Tales from the Crypt, and much more.

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About Marcia G. Hussain

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