cover image Give It Up!: And Other Short Stories

Give It Up!: And Other Short Stories

Jules Feiffer, Franz Kafka, Kafka. Nantier Beall Minoustchine Publishing, $15.95 (64pp) ISBN 978-1-56163-125-4

Kuper (Stripped: An Autobiography in Comics) has taken on Kafka's eerily engaging short tales and captured both an impressive degree of Kafka's personal brand of existential dread, and his pervasive aura of extreme psychic alienation. In the introduction, Jules Feiffer describes Kuper's adaptations as ``riffs, visual improvisations.'' And, in many ways, Kafka's short works (most are very short; Give It Up is just 11 lines of text) function perfectly within the comics format, allowing Kuper to pace the language of Kafka's imposing visions easily against his own vibrant b&w drawings. Indeed, with slight embellishments from Kuper (for example, he renders the mouse in ``A Little Fable'' as a mouse/man), Kafka's self-punishing visions provide their own desperate imagery. Kafka's anguished archetypal characters (the murderer and victim of ``A Fratricide'' or the bullied seaman of ``The Helmsman'') are easily rendered into visual equivalents and given new life in Kuper's raw, expressionistic graphic style. His treatment of ``The Hunger Artist'' is faithful, though the condensation perhaps lacks some of the bleakly amusing ironies of the original; and ``The Trees'' (``For we are like tree trunks in the snow'') becomes a too-obvious, though poignant, allegory of urban homelessness and despair. (July)