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Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation Paperback – July 24, 2018
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About the Author
John Jennings co-edited the Eisner Award–winning anthology The Blacker the Ink: Constructions of Black Identity in Comics and Sequential Art. He is professor of media and cultural studies at the University of California at Riverside and was awarded the Nasir Jones Hiphop Fellowship at Harvard’s Hutchins Center for African & African American Research.
Damian Duffy, cartoonist, writer, and comics letterer, is a PhD student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Graduate School of Library and Information Science, and a founder of Eye Trauma Studios (eyetrauma.net). His first published graphic novel, The Hole: Consumer Culture, created with artist John Jennings, was released by Front 40 Press in 2008. Along with Jennings, Duffy has curated several comics art shows, including Other Heroes: African American Comic Book Creators, Characters and Archetypes and Out of Sequence: Underrepresented Voices in American Comics, and published the art book Black Comix: African American Independent Comics Art and Culture. He has also published scholarly essays in comics form on curation, new media, diversity, and critical pedagogy.
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As with any story that is translated into another medium, there are gems and important plot points that are lost. Among those in _Kindred_ is the inter-racial nature of the protagonist's marriage, and many of the details of how each experiences the 19th century given their race. Sometimes these omissions and editorial decisions get in the way of the story or its impact. In the case of the graphic novel adaptation, there is still plenty of gut-wrenching material and thought-provoking issues raised that the spirit of the story remains true to what Butler wrote.
Jenning's artwork cleverly brings Duffy's adaptation to life - the variations of color and shading as well as the illustrations of the characters themselves don't distract from the story, and in many respects add to it (particularly in "The Fight" and the Epilogue). For readers unfamiliar with Butler's work, I cannot recommend _Kindred_ highly enough. For fans of graphic novels (or those who prefer this medium to the source text), the themes, message and plot remain close to the book, with little interference (and some graphic assistance), making this a recommended read.
I'm not completely sold on the drawing style of the comic, but from what I know, it seems to capture the essence of the Octavia E. Butler novel. I still get the feeling that as powerful as the comic is, it's still a barebones version of the original.