Eight Literary Works That Deserve a Graphic-Novel Treatment

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Earlier this month, we found out two iconic (in very different ways) literary works were being given the graphic-novel treatment. Sea Lion Books announced their interpretation of Paulo Coelho’s spiritual journey The AlchemistBRF.html_, featuring art by Daniel Sampere. Then, last week, the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam announced they will be creating an illustrated version Frank’s famous diary, with Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon (the duo behind the graphic novel of the 9/11 commission report) at the helm. And prior to his death this week, one of the great Harvey Pekar’s last projects was a graphic-novel adaptation of Studs Terkel’s working-class gem Working.

The graphic-novel adaptation is becoming an increasingly popular literary tool; illustrated interpretations of everything from Terkel to A Wrinkle in Time (upcoming) to the Twilight saga have been hitting the shelves. Here are eight more literary works we’d like to see given that treatment.

8. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Marquez
Marquez’s seminal magical realism-employing opus is plenty vivid without added artwork, but with the help of an artist, we may finally read it and be able to distinguish between all the different José Arcadios and Aurelianos.

7. Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
Any book where the narrative switches to create inter-weaving stories could make for potentially great graphic novel fodder. The wonderful, hysterical voice Safran Foer gave to tour guide Alex, the brutal isolation of the Eastern European landscape, the opportunity to create several different aesthetic profiles for the different story-lines—all elements that would translate well into this medium and make an already-great novel into something fresh and different, but equally wonderful.

6. The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
Erik Larson’s stunning historical narrative about serial killer H.H. Holmes’ slayings at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago has elements that would make for a brilliant graphic adaptation, including plenty of mystery, engaging characters, quaint turn-of-the-century dress and above it all, Daniel Burnham’s spectacular “white city,” an architectural feat that just aches to be resurrected on the page.

5. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
How can a novel that references that many stunning American landscapes, exploding and burning things (“fabulous yellow roman candles”), Benzedrine addicts and a wild, ethereal character who “keeps running off to the midget auto races” possibly not be included in this list? A stream-of-consciousness drawing style would be rather interesting.

4. Hell’s Angels: A Strange And Terrible Saga by Hunter S. Thompson
But only if Ralph Steadman does the drawings, natch.

3. The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie
Alexie’s prose in this collection of interlocking stories of life on the reservation is often stark but never simplistic, leaving the reader with a collection of bare, burning and altogether resonant images. Alexie’s vivid, complex characters would surely leave as much of an impact drawn as they did in the printed word.

2. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (and the rest of the Millennium trilogy) by Stieg Larsson
Because you’re probably reading it right now anyway. Seriously though, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and its companion novels in the Millennium trilogy, contain a lot of elements that seem like they would be fun to draw: a punk-rock heroine with rad body art, cutting-edge IKEA furniture (mentioned in The Girl Who Played With Fire), nerve-wracking chase scenes. And writer Stieg Larsson started out as a graphic designer, so it makes sense that his works would contain so many stunning visuals.

1. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
It’s fitting that a book about the comics would take the No. 1 spot. Michael Chabon’s modern classic has already topped our list of the Best Books of the Decade, now just imagine what his massive ode to the ink-and-newsprint dreams of the classic comics era would look like with Josef Kavalier’s drawings coming to life on the page. The Escapist, pursuing justice amid gritty New York cityscapes and Chabon’s highly engaging prose—what could be better? Not to mention you could do some über-cool things with the passage about Salvador Dalí at the party.