“The first-ever graphic novel adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, an American classic, is one of the world’s great anti-war books. An American classic and one of the world’s seminal antiwar books, Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five is faithfully presented in graphic novel form for the first time from Eisner Award-winning writer Ryan North (How to Invent Everything: A Survival Guide for the Stranded Time Traveler) and Eisner Award-nominated artist Albert Monteys (Universe!).
Listen: Billy Pilgrim has…
…read Kilgore Trout
…opened a successful optometry business
…built a loving family
…witnessed the firebombing of Dresden
…traveled to the planet Tralfamadore
…met Kurt Vonnegut
…come unstuck in time.
Billy Pilgrim’s journey is at once a farcical look at the horror and tragedy of war where children are placed on the frontlines and die (so it goes), and a moving examination of what it means to be fallibly human.” [Text from the publisher’s website and the backcover]
>> Please, read the warning for possible spoilers <<
I read this novel in high-school (a very long time ago) and I thought it was great. Indeed it is a classic of American science-fiction literature. When I saw that it had been made into a graphic novel adaptation, I thought it would be a great occasion to reacquaint myself with this story (a movie adaptation was also made a long time ago but it wasn’t very good). However I was a little worried because it is not an easy story to illustrate. After I finished reading the comics I was relieved: it was very well done (as far as I can remember the original book, of course).
It is the story of Billy Pilgrim who has a strange power (well, it would be a super-power if he had any control over it, so it’s more of a curse): he has come unstuck in time. He doesn’t lives his existence in chronological order and his mind can switch at anytime to a different part of his life, from (not necessarily in that order) his birth in 1922, to 1943 when he refuse to fight in the war and becomes a chaplain’s assistant, to 1944 when he is a prisoner of war after the battle of the Bulge and find himself a slave-laborer in the Slaughterhouse-Five in Dresden until it is “liberated” by the Russians after much horrors, to 1948 when his PTSD lands him in a mental hospital, to 1955 when he is a successful optometrist, to 1964 when he meets science-fiction writer Kilgore Trout, to 1967 when he is kidnapped by the Trafamadorians (an alien species who experience time all at once) and put in a zoo, to 1968 when he survives a plane crash and to 1976 when he dies — So it goes.
It is an extraordinarily compelling story, very complex and above all — although war is a very serious business — very funny. It is an antiwar manifest sugarcoated with humour. It is also a very clever time-travel story where science-fiction, as usual, becomes a mirror that reflects the joys and the cruelties of the human condition. And the art is very good too. I enjoyed this graphic novel adaptation very much and I can only recommend it for the reader either to discover the work of Kurt Vonnegut or to experienced it anew.
Slaughter House-Five or the children’s crusade, by Ryan North and Kurt Vonnegut; illustrated by Albert Monteys. Los Angeles: Archaia (Boom Entertainment), September 2020. 192 pages, 7 x 9.75 in., $US 24.99 / $C 32.99, ISBN 978-1-68415-625-2. For a teen readership (13+).
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