Comics are known for their versatility when it comes to adapting various other media including film, animation and video games. With this month’s reading list we invite you to explore graphic adaptation of classic works of prose that made their way to the Europe Comics catalog.
A humorous adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s short story about a farmer in a small village who develops a lust for acquiring ever more land and who, against the advice of his much more reasonable wife, will stop at nothing to become the biggest landowner around, traveling to a distant part of the country where the soil is said to be fertile and virgin and abundant and where grass grows chest high.
Parlay is the French king of a dying island tribe and the father of the sublime Armande. He’s selling his pearls, a fortune collected from his island’s lagoon. The wealthiest traders in the Solomon Islands have been invited to the auction, except for David Grief, the Englishman the natives call the Son of the Sun. Come hell or high water—probably both—Grief will be there. And he isn’t coming for the pearls. This is a thrilling adaptation of two Jack London novellas, “A Son of the Sun” and “The Pearls of Parlay.”
This is Ivan Gil and Frederic Richaud’s wonderful adaptation of Patrick Rambaud’s work on Napolean’s greatest feats. After the battle of Essling, they take us through the disastrous Russian campaign, the infamous Berezina.
In 1812, in order to keep his stranglehold on Europe, Napoleon had no choice but to declare war on the Russian emperor, Alexander. After three months of marching, his men, starved and exhausted, finally made it to Moscow… only to discover that the city had been deserted. Thus Napoleon and his army took up residence in the Russian capital without even the slightest resistance. But by nightfall, Moscow was on fire. Houses, churches and even the Kremlin were ablaze, and the entire French army risked being reduced to ashes. Caught in the trap, Napoleon was forced to leave the city and get back on the road to face his enemy.
Dodin-Bouffant is a total food enthusiast. He lives for excellence and spends his time surrounded by a small circle of hand-picked gastronomes. When his beloved cook, Eugénie, dies, it turns Bouffant’s world upside down. After a long, hard search he finally finds what he is looking for in Adèle. Not without some complications, Adèle and Dodin-Bouffant form a strong bond and share many a delicious meal. This novel by Marcel Rouff (1887-1936) is a tribute to the famous French gastronome Brillat-Savarin, on whom the character Dodin-Bouffant is loosely based.
“Of all the great battles of the Napoleonic Wars, the Battle of Essling is not the most famous. It was, however, one of the most bloody. Forty thousand died on the banks of the Danube over the course of two days in May 1809. Balzac decided to turn it into a novel for Scenes of Military Life” (The Human Comedy, Vol. 8). In 1833, he described his plan thus to Madame Hanska: “Not a woman in sight, cannons, horses, two armies, uniforms; on the first page, the cannon roars, and on the last, falls silent.”Balzac, busy with a thousand other projects, never had time to execute his plan. But Patrick Rambaud has realized it with scrupulous attention to detail. The Battle does not tell a story; it unfolds like a mural that surveys all the troops’ strategic movements, notes the details of the terrain that made such a difference to the battle’s outcome, and sketches the portraits of the great figure of the Napoleonic era, Lannes, Bessières, Masséna. But this comprehensive view doesn’t come at the expense of detail. Not a single cartridge belt, not a single garter button is missing from this immense army. The combination of precise detail and epic sweep that brings these pages to life makes this novel a unique achievement. It won the Prix Goncourt in 1997.” – Gérard Meudal
Ludwig has never been a soldier. A childhood injury left him lame in one leg, which has allowed him to largely sit out the war on the sidelines, as a translator. Fleeing his passionless marriage, he accepts an assignment in Japan, allowing him to return to the land of his youth. But the year is 1945. It is not a good time to be Japanese, or German… much less stationed in Hiroshima. Ludwig is tempted by love and, in furtively tampering with his translations of classified documents, by the chance to do something heroic. But none of that will save him…
The life of Jeremy Corbin, an unhappy, alcoholic Wall Street trader, takes a drastic turn when he learns shocking news about his long-lost father. He soon finds himself headed to Switzerland to pick up a mysterious safe deposit box whose contents hold the key to a terrible secret: horrific experiments carried out by the Nazis during WWII in their quest to create the Superman. With modern-day Nazis on his tail, a pretty, wise-cracking CIA agent assigned to protect him, and a deadly spy from Israeli intelligence blasting onto the scene at the most critical moments, his early-morning cocktail is suddenly the last thing on Jeremy’s mind.
Entering life at the French royal court, a world in which “what is shown is rarely the truth,” the young Princess of Clèves learns of passion’s torments, of heartbreak, and of the agony of love. Claire Bouilhac and Catel Muller’s graphic-novel adaption of this classic tale—often referred to as the forerunner of the modern psychological novel—remains faithful to the original 17th-century text, while also providing surprising and original insight into both the mystery of the creative act, and the link between the author, Madame de La Fayette, and her heroine, the Princess of Clèves.
Header image: How Much Land Does a Man Need? © Martin Veyron / Dargaud