Heart of Darkness

Peter Kuper and Joseph Conrad. Norton, $21.95 (160p) ISBN 978-0-393-63564-5
Conrad’s gnarled novella’s shifting and overloaded allegories are distilled down quite neatly in this haunting graphic adaptation by Kuper (Kafkaesque). The story is unchanged, rearing out like a modern-day myth told one night by a sailor, Marlow, to his crewmates. Marlow secured a job with a trading company hunting for ivory deep in an unnamed country and, on a doomed boat manned by tragically maltreated African cannibals and villainously buffoonish Europeans, he follows the river resembling “a snake uncoiled” deep into the wilderness, looking to save the “sick” ivory hunter Kurtz. Kurtz’s time in the jungle has transformed him into a crazed warlord casting a cult-leader spell (“his intelligence was perfectly clear, but his soul had gone mad”). Kuper’s angled figures are drawn with the kind of feverish intensity befitting the tale’s clamorous climactic utterance of “the horror, the horror.” He keeps Conrad’s original plot intact, but in order to “illuminate its heart” (per his extensive introduction, which includes samples of process pages), Kuper spirals out from Conrad’s point of view to view the colonial slaughter from its victims’ perspective. This respectful adaptation proves why readers continue to return to trace Marlow’s route down the river and puzzle over the relevance of its message. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 07/31/2019
Release date: 11/05/2019
Genre: Comics
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