#ReadIntl2020 Adult Award-Winning Books Comic Mania Genre graphic novel Lifespan of a Reader Reading Themes Young Adult (YA) Literature

A Graphic Adaptation of Octavia Butler’s “Kindred”

Octavia Butler's "Kindred" reimagined in graphic novel format.

Myra here.

So, I’ve had this book sitting idly on my shelves for awhile now. Once again, our reading theme has allowed me to go scrounging on my TBR bookshelves (yes, they are not stacks, but rather shelves and shelves of to-be-read titles, isn’t that delicious?). It also happened to come at the perfect time, just when there seems to be a growing shift in the world’s consciousness, or so we hope.


Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation (Amazon | Book Depository)

Written by Octavia Butler Adaptation by Damian Duffy and John Jennings
Published by Harry N. Abrams (2017)
ISBN: 141970947X (ISBN13: 9781419709470). Literary Awards: Bram Stoker Award for Best Graphic Novel (2017), Harvey Awards Nominee for Book of the Year (2018), Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards for Best Adaptation from Another Medium (2018). Bought a copy of the book. Book photos taken by me.

Octavia Butler was said to have irrevocably redefined and re-shaped the science fiction narrative, but I have to confess that I have yet to read her original stories. While I have her parable series, I do not think I own the original version of Kindred.

Regardless, I felt that this was powerfully and intensely reimagined, judging solely from my visceral reaction to Jennings’ art. The time-space continuum was ruptured in this story – but rather than move forward into the future, Dana, the Black woman protagonist was transported to a Southern plantation in Maryland, when White supremacy took on a historically-horrific form.

Reading the book made me wonder: what would we have done differently if we were transported into a period in history that clearly normalized and justified evil? Do we even have to move backwards in time to experience this same normalization and rationalization of evil? Isn’t this narrative so staggeringly contemporary, it hurts in all the raw places?

The graphic adaptation is meant to affectively move the reader. I know that others may argue that one’s own imagination may be even more powerful than what is already transmuted into lines and colours and images – yet, Jennings is such a master of his craft that I don’t think I will be able to read Kindred (whichever form/adaptation) without these portraits that he created swirling in my mind. A must-read for everyone.


#ReadIntl2020 Update: Octavia Butler and John Jennings – POC (US).

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

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