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Classics go graphic

books Updated: Mar 10, 2010 13:30 IST
Sneha Mahale
Sneha Mahale
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Enjoy reading Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn or Journey To The Centre of The Earth? Well, now you can read these classics in a brand new avatar with better illustrations and adapted plots.

Campfire, a company that deals exclusively in graphic novels, offers their readers an option to read their classic favourites in the form of graphic books. That too for just Rs 150.

“Youngsters are so distracted these days that they forget the joy of immersing themselves in a good book. So, graphic novels are ideal. Our shortest titles can be enjoyed in as little as two hours,” says Andrew Dodd, chief editor, Campfire.

The company provides graphic novels in four categories — classics, mythology, biographies and originals. “In the classics category, we have selected some of the most popular books of all time. We felt that by adapting these stories, we would be able to introduce young people to a part of literature, they had not experienced before,” says Dodd.

But there are several logistical problems in the conversion of a classic. The graphic writer has to visually retell a story, that the original author wrote years ago and captured the imagination of readers only through literature.

Honour storylines
This can only be done by honouring the original story and staying true to its flavour. While maintaining a high literary standard, text and illustrations also have to be relevant and look exciting.

Also, classic graphic novels by nature have less text than their prose counterparts. However, this doesn’t mean that there can be less content. In such cases, the illustrations have to complement the text and provide plenty of stimuli for the reader.

“When adapting a book into the graphic format, certain descriptive passages maybe replaced with illustrations.However, the editors and writers ensure that the memorable lines are retained,” says Dodd.

Even though the descriptive parts are brought out in imagery, the storylines of the original books are never changed. Though text sometimes is simplified to make it easy for the targeted reader.

Visual story
The illustrations are entirely based on the text of the original story. For instance, if a character is described wearing certain clothing in the story, the visual will try and bring that out in the image.

The classics adapted so far have all been pieces of Western literature like Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn and Robinson Crusoe among others. The company is now engaging more Indian writers and will soon be considering Indian classics to adapt into the graphic format as well.

Indian classics too
“We have already begun producing graphic novels which tell the stories of various Indian mythological characters like Eklavya, Bheem, Draupadi and the telling of the Ramayana through the eyes of Sita. Our first Indian mythological title called Sita: Daughter of the Earth, will be published in English and Hindi later this year,” says Dodd.

When asked whether customised comics for classics too may be in the offing, he says, “The process of creating a graphic novel can take between seven months to a year. Therefore, producing a title for one customer would not be feasible.”

Other graphic books that can be expected soon are The Wizard of Oz, Frankenstein, The Three Musketeers, The Merchant of Venice and Romeo and Juliet.
They will also be expanding their range of Greek mythology, with Heracles and Perseus; biographies with those of The Wright Brothers and Leonardo Da Vinci; and originals with 400 BC, The Dusk Society and In Defence of the Realm.

Titles on offer

Alice in Wonderland
The Master of the World
Robinson Crusoe
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
A Christmas Carol
Kim
The People that Time Forgot
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
The Land that Time Forgot
The Time Machine
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The Swiss Family for Robinson Crusoe
Moby Dick
The Prisoner of Zenda
Frankenstein
Treasure Island
Joan of Arc
The Lost Continent
The Invisible Man
The Prince and the Pauper
The Hound of Baskervilles

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