Note: For this post, I will use Duffy and Jennings’ adaptation of Butler’s Kindred. I have read Butler’s novel, but it has a been a few years. The adaptation closely follows the novel.
On Tuesday, I wrote about the ways that Damian Duffy’s illustrations convey just as much emotion to the reader as Octavia Butler and John Jennings’ words in the graphic novel adaptation of Butler’s Kindred. Today, I want to look at the role of literacy in Kindred. Dana Franklin and her husband Kevin are both writers, and thus have a high level of literacy; however, their abilities to read, write, and more importantly critically interrogate the printed word and even their own surroundings do not protect them when they travel to Antebellum Maryland. It is this aspect of Kindred that I want to look at a little more closely.
One of the key aspects of reading comics and graphic novels is paying attention not just to the words but also to the visual images that accompany them. Both the words and the images work together to create an experience that, to me, resembles a melding of a printed text and movie. When I read the March trilogy and The Silence of Our Friends, I focused on the ways that Nate Powell illustrated the text and conveyed emotion through mere images, sans words. I wrote about this some in a post for Black Perspectives back in April: “On Racism and Racial Violence in the Comics.” Today, I want to look at some of the panels in Damian Duffy and John Jennings’ graphic novel adaptation of Octavia Butler’s Kindred.
Before he started writing “costume novels,” Frank Yerby penned protest literature in the form of short stories and poems. The stories are in the vein of Richard Wright and other African American writers of the period. After failing to get his first novel length manuscript published, a protest novel, Yerby turned to what he called “costume novels,” historical narratives that subvert the plantation tradition. Today, I want to focus on Yerby’s 1944 story “Health Card” which originally appeared in Harper’s magazine and later went on to win the O. Henry Memorial Award for best short story of the year.