This introduction to this special issue of European Comic Art on ‘Comics and Adaptation’ provides a brief overview of the field of adaptation studies, with a particular focus on its considerable developments and expansion since the late 1990s, as it has moved beyond a comparative novel-to-film approach to centre instead around questions of intertextuality and hypertextuality. This special issue aims to contribute to this field and to the growing body of works on comics and adaptation. The authors explore questions of transnational circulation of visual, narrative and generic motifs (Boillat); heteronormalisation and phallogocentrism (Krauthaker and Connolly); authenticity of drawn events (Lecomte); identity in a stateless minoritised culture (Blin-Rolland); ‘high’ and popular culture (Blank); reverence in comic adaptations of the literary canon (de Rooy); and documentary and parody (Ripley).
Comics and Adaptation
Armelle Blin-Rolland, Guillaume Lecomte and Marc Ripley
Demystifying Adaptation Processes in Relation to Climate Change
Thomas F. Thornton and Nadia Manasfi
In climate change discourse and policy, adaptation has become a critical byword and frame of reference. An implicit assumption in much of the strategizing is the notion that adaptation can be rationally planned, funded, and governed largely through existing frameworks. But can adaptation really be managed or engineered, especially given the significant unpredictability and severe impacts that are forecast in a range of climate scenarios? Over millennia, successful societies have adapted to climate shifts, but evidence suggests that this was often accomplished only through wide-ranging reorganization or the institution of new measures in the face of extreme environmental stress. This essay critically examines the concept of human adaptation by dividing it into eight fundamental processes and viewing each in a broad cultural, ecological, and evolutionary context. We focus our assessment especially on northern indigenous peoples, who exist at the edges of present-day climate governance frameworks but at the center of increasingly acute climate stress.
This article explores basic constraints on the nature and appreciation of cinematic adaptations. An adaptation, it is argued, is a work that has been intentionally based on a source work and that faithfully and overtly imitates many of this source's characteristic features, while diverging from it in other respects. Comparisons between an adaptation and its source(s) are essential to the appreciation of adaptations as such. In spite of many adaptation theorists' claims to the contrary, some of the comparisons essential to the appreciation of adaptations as such pertain to various kinds of fidelity and to the ways in which similar types of artistic goals and problems are taken up in an adaptation and its source(s).
A New Graphic Adaptation of Anthony Trollope's John Caldigate
Dispossession (2015) is a 96-page colour graphic adaptation of Anthony Trollope’s 1879 novel John Caldigate. It is the primary outcome of a 2012 commission from the University of Leuven to develop, draw and rationalise a new graphic novel relative to Trollope’s (Fig. 1). Dispossession will be published in an English edition and as Courir deux lièvres [To Run Two Hares] in a French edition in conjunction with a 2015 academic conference on the occasion of the bicentenary of Trollope’s birth.1 The commission encompassed theorisations of adaptation, the habits and limitations of research and practice, narrative drawing and Victorianism. An academic partner volume, Transforming Anthony Trollope: ‘Dispossession’, Victorianism and 19th-Century Word and Image (2015), published at the same time, will include new writing on the graphic adaptation of nineteenth-century literature, Victorian illustration and Victorianism.
Graphic Adaptation in Germany in the Context of High and Popular Culture
As a hybrid between ‘high’ literature and ‘trivial’ comics, graphic adaptations have been the subject of extensive debate in Germany. This article discusses the specific cultural conditions of graphic adaptation in Germany, which have been influenced by a process of emancipation from deeply rooted prejudice against comics as a medium of popular culture. To illustrate the changes brought about by the term ‘graphic novel’ around 2000, this article analyses two examples of a newer generation of graphic adaptation in detail. Flix’s Faust (2009–2010) and Drushba Pankow’s Das Fräulein von Scuderi [Mademoiselle de Scudery] (2011) represent a new self-confident approach to classic literature, but they also reflect on their own status as adaptations and thus contribute to ‘closing the gap’ between ‘high’ and popular culture.
Jacques Carelman's and Clément Oubrerie's Zazie dans le métro
Raymond Queneau's 1959 novel Zazie dans le métro has been adapted into two text/image versions, by Jacques Carelman in 1966 and by Clément Oubrerie in 2008. Carelman's version is strongly inscribed in the fidelity discourse, while Oubrerie advocates a process of complete appropriation of the source text by the adapter. This article will explore how the three interrelated aspects of approach to adaptation, text/image combination and readership and reader's experience, shape the transposition of the source text into two strikingly different text/image versions by Carelman and Oubrerie. Focusing on the transposition of the literary voices of the source text, it will discuss the differing manners in which the adapters use the specificity of their chosen medium to make the characters of Zazie dans le métro speak in text and image to their new readers.
Comics Adaptations of Literary Works
This edition of European Comic Art (ECA) is devoted to comics adaptations of literary works. It thereby makes a contribution to adaptation studies, a field that has rapidly expanded in tune with the postmodern awareness that we can no longer securely assign texts to individual authors as genesis and sole creative origin, even if the phenomenon of adaptation itself is not new. Gérard Genette points out that ‘l’humanité, qui découvre sans cesse du sens, ne peut toujours inventer de nouvelles formes’ [humanity, which keeps discovering new meanings, cannot always invent new forms].
Mahmoud F. Al-Shetawi
Building on what has already been documented in related scholarship concerning this topic, this article will look into facets of postcolonial theory vis-à-vis appropriations and adaptations of the plays of Shakespeare in Arabic. In doing so, the article will compare known postcolonial 'Shakespeares', and Arabic appropriations of his plays. It will comment on the postcolonial aspects of these plays and show whether Arab dramatists have been 'writing back', so to speak, in response to the colonial experience. The article addresses the following questions: first, do Arab playwrights deal with postcolonial issues in their appropriations of Shakespeare? Second, to what extent have Arab playwrights used Shakespeare to 'strike' at colonialism? Third, are Arab playwrights aware of postcolonial theory and discourse? And fourth, what is the nature of the Arabic contribution to postcolonial discourse? Although the treatment of Shakespeare in Arabic literature, especially drama and poetry, has been considered elsewhere, this particular approach to the Bard is relatively new. The article contends that there are postcolonial appropriations of Shakespeare in Arabic, which need to be properly investigated and commented upon with reference to postcolonial literary theory.
This article analyzes local concerns with nature and natural changes in response to the tsunami of 2004 based on anthropological fieldwork in the South Indian fishing village of Tharangambadi. It explores the fishermen's effort to restore confidence in their environment after the disaster, and argues that this entails a subtle strategy of relating to climate and weather that aims at gradually transferring the rupture of the tsunami to a more manageable pattern of seasonal variation. In analytical terms, the article investigates how the fishermen work to reassert their subjectivity in the aftermath of the overwhelming disaster through operating with different perspectives on their environment. In conclusion, the article suggests that these shifting perspectives more generally reflect notions of different intensities of change and creative local modes of adaptation ensuing from a disruption like the tsunami.
Norman N. Holland
Metafictions tell stories in which the physical medium of the story becomes part of the story as, classically, in Tristram Shandy or Don Quixote. In our times, both metafiction and metafilm have proliferated. Examples of metafilm include Buster Keaton's Sherlock Jr., Woody Allen's Purple Rose of Cairo, Alejandro Amenábar's Abre los Ojos, Ingmar Bergman's Persona, the Marx Brothers' Horse Feathers and, in particular, Spike Jonze's Adaptation. In my experience and that of others, metafilmic movies have a peculiarly disconcerting effect, sometimes arousing fear, sometimes seeming comic. Why? Metafilms play tricks on the levels and kinds of our belief (or our suspension of disbelief). To explain the effect, we need to understand how our brains are functioning when we are, as we say, "absorbed" in a film. The answer lies in the fact that reality testing depends on activity in the motor regions of the frontal cortex. But in experiencing the arts, we are not moving or even planning to move. As a result, as Richard Gerrig's experiments show, we momentarily believe (or suspend disbelief in) the film we are perceiving. Metafilm, however, introduces another, more real reality, the physical medium of the film. Metafilm thus sends conflicting messages to the brain about moving. The result is what Freud called "a signal of anxiety." If the metafilmic effect is brief, we laugh. If it persists over time, it can arouse anxiety.