cover image 1984: The Graphic Novel

1984: The Graphic Novel

George Orwell and Fido Nesti. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $22 (224p) ISBN 978-0-358-35992-0

Orwell’s classic dystopian nightmare is lent new life in this atmospheric graphic adaptation by Brazilian artist Nesti. In Orwell’s bleak totalitarian world engaged in perpetual war, Big Brother is always watching (ever-present in the comic’s setting via ubiquitous ominous signs posted), and Thought Police stand guard to mete out brutal justice for thoughtcrimes. Hero Winston Smith, drawn as a drab everyman, is both gifted and cursed with pre-dictatorship memories, and reflects that “even the outline of your own life lost its sharpness.” When he enters into a forbidden love affair with Julia, a fellow apostate, together they join a secret revolutionary group called The Brotherhood. While this adaption is rather text-heavy—perhaps necessarily so to fully impart Orwell’s complex ideas—Nesti’s accessible gray and orange drawings provide balance and light, giving Orwell’s oppressive vision a lyrical touch. His artistic style also lends a Depression-era vibe, one that would have read as retro even in 1949, when the novel was originally published. This artful reinterpretation reminds how Orwell’s warnings of the dangers of authoritarianism have remained frighteningly timeless. Agent: Bill Hamilton, A.M. Heath. (Aug.)