cover image The Good Earth

The Good Earth

Pearl S. Buck, adapted by Nick Bertozzi. Simon and Schuster, $26.99 (144p) ISBN 978-1-5011-3276-6

Bertozzi (Lewis and Clark) is a veteran of historical comics, and his adaptation of Buck’s Pulitzer Prize–winning novel is wordy but deeply effective. The art is simple, with borderless panels, thick black brush strokes, and monochrome gray shading capturing the hard life of the cast. Set before WWI, the novel tells the intimate story of a Chinese farmer’s life from his wedding to his death. Wang Lung’s fortunes rise and fall dramatically in changing political climates he is scarcely aware of. His marriage to the former house slave O-Lan is followed by the birth of two sons and several successful harvests. Then come years of drought and famine. The upheaval drives them to the city, where they snatch what they can from the ruins following a riot. But wealth doesn’t lead them to peace or happiness. Buck’s story, a massive bestseller in its day, has been mostly consigned to the bins of dusty classics, but Bertozzi’s version gives it a sharp update. Agent: Charlie Olsen, Inkwell Management. (July)