The Graphic Novel Adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five

Since its pub­li­ca­tion just over half a cen­tu­ry ago, Slaugh­ter­house-Five has seen bans and burn­ings, gone through var­i­ous adap­ta­tions, and all the while held its place in the Amer­i­can lit­er­ary canon. Some­thing about Kurt Von­negut’s sto­ry of the invol­un­tar­i­ly time-trav­el­ing optometrist Bil­ly Pil­grim, who like his cre­ator sur­vived the fire­bomb­ing of Dres­den in the Sec­ond World War, con­tin­ues to res­onate with read­ers even as that war (and so very many nov­els about it) pass out of liv­ing mem­o­ry. Von­negut him­self loved George Roy Hill’s 1972 film of the nov­el, but alas, hav­ing died in 2007, he did­n’t stick around long enough to see Slaugh­ter­house-Five — or, to use its full title, Slaugh­ter­house-Five, or The Chil­dren’s Cru­sade: A Duty-Dance with Death — turned into a graph­ic nov­el.

“Indie graph­ic nov­el house BOOM! Stu­dios announced plans to pub­lish a graph­ic ver­sion of Kurt Vonnegut’s clas­sic sci-fi/an­ti­war nov­el,” reports Pub­lish­ers Week­ly’s Calvin Reid, nam­ing the adap­tors as writer Ryan North, artist Albert Monteys, and col­orist Ricard Zaplana. Nerdis­t’s Matthew Hart writes that it’s “unclear at this point what’s been includ­ed and what’s been dropped for BOOM!’s Slaugh­ter­house-Five graph­ic nov­el adap­ta­tion, it seems like the sto­ry is in good hands.” [Update: You can now pur­chase a copy of Slaugh­ter­house-Five graph­ic nov­el online here.]

The images released so far “show­case a world paint­ed with appro­pri­ate­ly mut­ed col­ors, and pop­u­lat­ed by some of the most icon­ic moments from the nov­el. The graph­ic novel’s inter­pre­ta­tion of Bil­ly Pil­grim will pos­si­bly ignite some dis­agree­ment amongst read­ers, how­ev­er, as his face can be jux­ta­posed with Vonnegut’s.”

For a nov­el con­sid­ered a “clas­sic” longer than read­ers who dis­cov­er it today have been alive, Slaugh­ter­house-Five has its own uncon­ven­tion­al way with real­i­ty. Not only does Von­negut make its pro­tag­o­nist “unstuck in time,” he also works into its cast real char­ac­ters from his own life. Take Bernard O’Hare, shown here in pan­els from the graph­ic nov­el. As Von­negut’s offi­cial­ly des­ig­nat­ed “bud­dy” in the the 106th Infantry Divi­sion, O’Hare was tak­en pris­on­er along with him in Dres­den and held cap­tive in a meat­pack­ing plant known as Schlachthof Fuenf. When Von­negut com­plet­ed the man­u­script he let O’Hare and his wife Mary read it, and the lat­ter urged the author to write about how “all the men who fought in the Sec­ond World War were just babies.” Hence the nov­el­’s sub­ti­tle, which befits the plain­spo­ken sen­si­bil­i­ty of Kurt Von­negut, a man who believed in call­ing things what they were — and thus would sure­ly have reject­ed the label “graph­ic nov­el” in favor of “com­ic book.”

Pur­chase a copy of Slaugh­ter­house-Five: The Graph­ic Nov­el online.

via Pub­lish­ers Week­ly

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Hear Kurt Von­negut Read Slaugh­ter­house-Five, Cat’s Cra­dle & Oth­er Nov­els

Why Should We Read Kurt Von­negut? An Ani­mat­ed Video Makes the Case

Kurt Von­negut Maps Out the Uni­ver­sal Shapes of Our Favorite Sto­ries

Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch Reads Kurt Vonnegut’s Incensed Let­ter to the High School That Burned Slaugh­ter­house-Five

Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graph­ic Nov­el Adap­ta­tion

Read Ulysses Seen, A Graph­ic Nov­el Adap­ta­tion of James Joyce’s Ulysses

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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