Reinvented classic2 min read . Updated: 24 Mar 2010, 02:13 PM IST
This is just the sort of appetizer that could rope in the child who groans when you talk about reading up the classics.
Campfire Publishing’s latest launches, the classic adventure story The Prisoner of Zenda and the historical (then as well as now) action thriller, The Lost Continent (set in the year 2137), lead a pack of graphic novels that have brought many of the perennial stories—the classics, in other words—to life in a graphic novel format.
If The Prisoner of Zenda is all about palace intrigue, political subterfuge, handsome villains and royal romance, The Lost Continent is history rewritten where East is East and West is West, with not a chance of them meeting—or is there?
For a new generation that seems perpetually short of time, these illustrated adaptations of timeless stories are an ideal way to give it a fix of some classy storytelling.
Today, in more cases than not, the only way to get a child to read a classic is if it is in the school curriculum. Or when holiday homework assignments send children (or rather their parents) scurrying to find a quick solution even as D-day looms large.
Though some of the choices in the Campfire collection are a bit puzzling (Harry Houdini and Stolen Hearts in particular), the rest truly delight. The selection so far has been overwhelmingly adventure- or mystery-oriented. The Jane Austens and the Brontes will probably have to wait a bit longer—till the reader is ready. A sensible move if the ostensible aim is to hook the target audience to the classics genre.
The illustrations are neat, the editing is crisp and the narrative tight. The printing is a treat after all the indifferent presentations thrown up by many of those publishers who feel that an abridged, hurriedly put-together classic is an easy way to cash in on school reading lists. As a team, the editors, illustrators, artists and narrators of this series have clicked. The publishers, who initially used American storywriters (graphic novels are more popular there than in the UK) for the series, have now started involving Indian writers too.
Brush up on your R.L. Stevenson, H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Anthony Hope or Edgar Rice Burroughs (who surprisingly gets three mentions in the 26-strong list out so far). Or take a trip down memory lane while you pick up this set for your child. And certainly pick up those that your child doesn’t have to read at school.
Reasonably priced (at Rs150 each), Campfire has categorized the titles as Classics, Mythology, Biography and Originals. It has released 22 in the first category, two in the second (The Legend of Heracles and Stolen Hearts) and one each (Harry Houdini and Master of the World) in the rest.
As the end-of-the-book page puts it, these graphic novels have certainly put the fun back into reading.
Available at Eureka Bookstore, DLF Place mall, Saket, New Delhi; Landmark, Koramangala, Bangalore; and Granth Book Store, Juhu Tara Road, Mumbai.
The writer is the editor of Heek, a children’s magazine.
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