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Books & Authors

What Was Old Is New Again

We've seen comics transformed into films and, of course, we’ve witnessed classic literature interpreted on the silver screen, but what about works of classic literature republished as comics or graphic novels? What happens when you take a classic work of literature and transform it into a vividly illustrated graphic text? A surge in popularity! Many argue that some of the classic works that some consider to be cumbersome, now have a revived interest in graphic novel form. What was once old is new again.

According to the article “Adapting classic books into graphic novels,” Hope Larson, a cartoonist and author of a graphic-novel version of A Wrinkle in Time says she thinks the graphic-novel adaptation trend will continue. "Now that teachers and librarians have witnessed the power of comics to lure in reluctant readers, we'll see more and more adaptations of literary classics and popular fiction," she says. "Educators and parents are beginning to see comics as more substantial works, or at least useful tools for increasing literacy.

"Comics can be literary, or they can be pure entertainment," Larson says, "or they can fall somewhere in between. The form is capable of incredible diversity." Others agree that comics can be used to get reluctant kids into reading.

Due to the surge in popularity and the success with the reluctant reader audience, a seemingly limitless number of classics are now available in vivid comic versions, from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea to Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. The Diary of Anne Frank, Fahrenheit 451, and even The Book of Genesis have all been transformed into comics. Marvel Comics, the publisher of superhero favorites Spider-Man and X-Men, has its own series of Jane Austen adaptations, with comic versions of Northanger Abbey and Pride and Prejudice.

Librarians, teachers and students alike are hopeful that more-ambitious comic adaptations of classic literature are yet to come. An eager audience waits to see if the publishing industry will continue to take what was once old and make it new again.

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