cover image Parable of the Sower

Parable of the Sower

Octavia E. Butler, adapted by Damian Duffy and John Jennings. Abrams ComicArts, $24.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-4197-3133-4

This nimble graphic adaptation of Butler’s 1993 novel of capitalism-ravaged California feels alarmingly prescient and relevant. Duffy and Jennings (Kindred) skillfully rework the tale told through the eyes of teenage empath Lauren Oya Olamina, who navigates a world transformed by drought, gun violence, and exploitation. Lauren, daughter of a preacher, pushes back against her family and friends, who naively hope life will return to the good old days. “The old days aren’t coming back,” Lauren says, as she shares her own spiritual message, the Earthseed, which declares “God is Change.” The adaptation captures the heart of Butler’s message: survival depends on evolution, but also on breaking through isolation to build communities of trust and love. Jennings’s color palette flames with reds, oranges, and yellows, evoking both vibrant Los Angeles sunsets and the city choked with smoke and fire. His blocky, busy line work portrays the brutal violence of Lauren’s life (mobs of desperate people commit murder, rape, and mutilation every day) without lingering on the gore or turning the empathetic story into a grotesque thriller. Instead, the pain Lauren witnesses and feels as she travels across the state reinforces her resolve to become a leader. This accessible adaptation is poised to introduce Butler’s dystopian tale to a new generation of readers. [em](Jan.) [/em]