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Kurt Vonnegut's time-tripping sci-fi novel Slaughterhouse-Five and its reluctant temporal voyager Billy Pilgrim are about to make the leap into the realm of comic books this year in an ambitious new project delivered by Boom! Studios' Archaia imprint.
The satirical anti-war masterpiece was based on the celebrated American author's harrowing experiences during the Allies' controversial Dresden firebombings in the late stages of World War II as a German prisoner of war. It's been required reading in most high school and college curricula after it was first published back in 1969 and has influenced generations of writers, comedians, filmmakers, and artists.
This literary classic's irreverent, darkly comedic stance is still just as scathing today as it was 50 years ago, and now a brash new graphic novel adaptation conceived with the approval of the Vonnegut family is launching into your time zone this September — and SYFY WIRE has an expanded early peek inside.
Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five will be presented in deluxe graphic novel form for the first time by Eisner Award-winning writer Ryan North (Adventure Time, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl) and Eisner Award-nominated Spanish artist Albert Monteys (Universe!), with colors provided by Ricard Zaplana.
Billy Pilgrim’s strange journey is a glaring look at the horrors and tragedies of war where children are placed on the fatal frontlines of battle, and also a stirring examination of death, fate, aliens, and the persistence of human hope. This upcoming graphic novel promises to view the thought-provoking book in a new light for a discriminating 21st-century comic book readership.
"Transforming one of my favourite books into a new medium has been a scary/exciting challenge," North tells SYFY WIRE. "My main goal with the project was to make this version of Vonnegut's story feel at home in the medium of comics, as if this was how it was originally composed, as if someone could pick it up having somehow never heard of Kurt and think, 'Oh cool, he wrote a comic.'"
"Obviously that's not literally going to happen, and the adaptation mentions its prose origins because of course it does, but you get the idea!" he adds. "In my opinion, there's no point in bringing a story to a new medium unless it can really live in that medium, and both Slaughterhouse-Five and the medium of comics itself have this really distinctive and really interesting relationship to time, so it seems like a natural fit to bring the two together."
Accompanying North's story interpretation, Monteys' cartoon-style pencils and panel designs are a perfect match for this fresh adaptation.
"Comics are the perfect medium for telling Billy Pilgrim’s story, because narratively they are as unstuck in time as he is," Monteys explains to SYFY WIRE. "Ryan North has done the impossible with a script that is both faithful and inventive. I’m so honored to be working on this book!"
Become "unstuck in time" in our preview of Boom!'s Slaughterhouse-Five graphic novel in the gallery below, then tell us if you're a fan of Vonnegut's seminal anti-war creation.