graphic novels

12 must-read graphic novels adapted from classic literature

Don't read these just to 'simplify' difficult texts, but as works of literature in their own right.

Comic narrative, or what Scott McCloud has called 'sequential art' in his seminal work Understanding Comics (1993), has captivated us for generations. “Graphic novels”, really just a fancy name for comics, as Alan Moore has pointed out, are being taken more and more seriously in the literary world, aided by the work of fantastic writers and artists from Art Spiegelman to Alison Bechdel. Many classic works have been converted to the comic format. Here are some of our favourites from the last few years.

Howl: A Graphic Novel 
Allen Ginsberg's Howl is one of the most widely read poems of all time. The animator of the Epstein and Friedman film, and New Yorker artist Eric Drooker, has created the graphic novel version. Drooker collaborated with Ginsberg on this last book of poetry,Illuminated Poems. Animated art created for the film by Drooker can be seen in this book.

The Call of the Wild: The Graphic Novel
Jack London's tale is about Buck, a dog who is kidnapped from his loving home and given into slavery, and who finds another home, and eventually leads a pack of wolves. Indian publisher Campfire released a graphic re-telling, narrated by Lloyd S Wagner and drawn by Sachin Nagar. Campfire has published graphic adaptations of many other classics, from Macbeth to The Frankenstein.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
This 24-issue, 6-volume limited series is not an adaptation, but an illustration of Philip K Dick's iconic novel. That is, it contains the full text of the novel, unusual for works of this kind. Illustrated by Tony Parker and Bill Sienkiewicz, the collection got a "best new series" nomination for the Eisner awards.

Wuthering Heights
Emily Bronte's only novel has been adapted into a comic book by John M. Burns and edited by Sean Michael Wilson. This work, like other adaptations by publishers Classical Comics, comes in two versions - abridged 'original text' and paraphrased 'quick text'. The latter is aimed at children, and fans of the novel will most enjoy the former. Classical Comics also has a good adaptation of Dracula.

African-American Classics
This acclaimed collection adapts short stories, plays, and poems by the earliest African-American writers, and is illustrated by African-American artists. Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, and W.E.B. Dubois are amongst the writers featured, and the works span the years 1891 to 1931. The collection has been edited by edited by Tom Pomplun and Lance Tooks.

Prince of Cats
African American artist Ronald Wimberly has adapted Romeo and Juliet to modern day Brooklyn. The hip-hop retelling of the story  focuses on the main antagonist, Lady Capulet's nephew Tybalt, and the wars between the two families of Montague and Capulet. The adaptation is written entirely in iambic pentameter, and has been praised for the importance and authenticity of its new setting.

The Graphic Canon
This three-volume anthology is breath-taking in its scope. The first volume has classics from ancient literature through to the 1700s, such as The Epic of Gilgamesh, the Mahabharata, The Tibetan Book of the Dead, The Divine Comedy, and The Canterbury Tales. The second volume has 19th century classics by writers such Edgar Allen Poe, Victor Hugo, Jane Austen, and Christina Rossetti. Volume three, of the 20th century, has everyone from Virginia Woolf to Ben Okri. Artists include Will Eisner, Robert Crumb, and Gris Grimly, to name a few.

Le Petit Prince
Joann Sfar, creator of celebrated graphic novel The Rabbi's Cat, has adapted Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's timeless work. This homage and celebration features Saint-Exupéry himself, although sketches of the narrator didn't make it into the final version ofThe Little Prince. There's a whole sequence showing the little boy somersaulting from a plane in order to play with his creator.

The Complete Don Quixote
Rob Davis has recreated Cervantes' beloved classic into an extraordinary graphic novel.The first volume appeared in many “best of the year” lists, and the complete work was twice nominated for the Eisner award. Check out this blog-post for a glimpse into the gorgeous artwork depicting the Knight Errant and his sidekick. Davis has also adapted H.P. Lovecraft's The Dunwich Horror.

Gris Grimly's Frankenstein
There are several comic adaptations of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, but this was the first to use the original novel's entire text. Gris Grimly, renowned for his dark children's books, counts Mary Shelley's novel amongst his greatest literary inspirations. The result is a wildly popular adaptation.

The Graveyard Book
Neil Gaiman's modern-day classic has been adapted into a two-volume graphic novel by P. Craig Russell. One of the biggest reasons to read it is that the protagonist Bod's macabre world has been drawn by a variety of master artists such as Kevin Nowlan, Tony Harris, and Jill Thompson. This is a treat for Gaiman fans and generally for lovers of fantasy. 

Canine/Feline Classics: Volume 25
This volume has two parts - flip to one half and read stories about dogs, flip to the other and read about cats. There are stories by Ray Bradbury, O Henry, P.G. Wodehouse, Ambrose Bierce, Saki, Edward Lear, Kafka, and Lovecraft.

We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content  BY 

Harvard Business School’s HBX brings the future of business education to India with online programs

HBX is not only offering courses online, but also connecting students to the power of its network.

The classic design of the physical Harvard Business School (HBS) classroom was once a big innovation – precisely designed teaching amphitheaters laid out for every student to participate from his or her seat with a “pit” in the center of the room from which professors orchestrate discussions analyzing business cases like a symphony lead. When it came to designing the online experience of HBX—the school’s digital learning initiative—HBS faculty worked tirelessly to blend these tenets of the HBS classroom pedagogy with the power of new technology. With real-world problem solving, active learning, and social learning as its foundation, HBX offers immersive and challenging self-paced learning experiences through its interactive online learning platform.

Reimagining digital education, breaking the virtual learning mold

Typically, online courses follow a one-way broadcast mode – lectures are video recorded and reading material is shared – and students learn alone and are individually tested. Moving away from the passive learning model, HBX has developed an online platform that leverages the HBS ‘case-based pedagogy’ and audio-visual and interaction tools to make learning engaging.

HBX courses are rarely taught through theory. Instead, students learn through real-world problem-solving. Students start by grappling with a business problem – with real world data and the complexity in which a business leader would have to make a decision – and learn the theory inductively. Thus even as mathematical theories are applied to business situations, students come away with a greater sense of clarity and perspective, whether it is reading a financial report, understanding why a brand’s approach to a random sample population study may or may not work, or how pricing works.

HBX Platform | Courses offered in the HBX CORe program
HBX Platform | Courses offered in the HBX CORe program

“Learning about concepts through real-life cases was my favorite part of the program. The cases really helped transform abstract concepts into observable situations one could learn from. Furthermore, it really helped me understand how to identify situations in which I could use the tools that HBX equipped me with,” says Anindita Ravikumar, a past HBX participant. India’s premier B-school IIM-Ahmedabad has borrowed the very same pedagogy from Harvard. Learning in this manner is far more engaging, relatable, and memorable.

Most lessons start with a short 2-3 minute video of a manager talking about the business problem at hand. Students are then asked to respond on how they would handle the issue. Questions can be in the form of either a poll or reflections. Everyone’s answers are then visible to the ‘classroom’. In the words of Professor Bharat Anand, Faculty Chair, HBX, “This turns out to be a really important distinction. The answers are being updated in real-time. You can see the distribution of answers, but you can also see what any other individual has answered, which means that you’re not anonymous.” Students have real profiles and get to know their ‘classmates’ and learn from each other.

HBX Interface | Students can view profiles of other students in their cohort
HBX Interface | Students can view profiles of other students in their cohort

Professor Anand also says, “We have what we call the three-minute rule. Roughly every three minutes, you are doing something different on the platform. Everyone is on the edge of their seats. Anyone could be called on to participate at any time. It’s a very lean forward mode of learning”. Students get ‘cold-called’ – a concept borrowed from the classroom – where every now and then individuals will be unexpectedly prompted to answer a question on the platform and their response will be shared with other members of the cohort. It keeps students engaged and encourages preparedness. While HBX courses are self-paced, participants are encouraged to get through a certain amount of content each week, which helps keep the cohort together and enables the social elements of the learning experience.

More than digital learning

The HBS campus experience is valued by alumni not just for the academic experience but also for the diverse network of peers they meet. HBX programs similarly encourage student interactions and opportunities for in-person networking. All HBXers who successfully complete their programs and are awarded a credential or certificate from HBX and Harvard Business School are invited to the annual on-campus HBX ConneXt event to meet peers from around the world, hear from faculty and business executives, and also experience the HBS campus near Cambridge.

HBXers at ConneXt, with Prof. Bharat Anand
HBXers at ConneXt, with Prof. Bharat Anand

Programs offered today

HBX offers a range of programs that appeal to different audiences.

To help college students and recent graduates prepare for the business world, HBX CORe (Credential of Readiness) integrates business essentials such as analytics, economics, and financial accounting. HBX CORe is also great for those interested in an MBA looking to strengthen their application and brush up their skills to be prepared for day one. For working professionals, HBX CORe and additional courses like Disruptive Strategy, Leading with Finance, and Negotiation Mastery, can help deepen understanding of essential business concepts in order to add value to their organizations and advance their careers.

Course durations range from 6 to 17 weeks depending on the program. All interested candidates must submit a free, 10-15 minute application that is reviewed by the HBX admissions team by the deadlines noted on the HBX website.

For more information, please review the HBX website.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of HBX and not by the Scroll editorial team.