cover image Hemingway in Comics

Hemingway in Comics

Robert K. Elder, with Sharon Hamilton, Jace Gatzemeyer, and Sean C. Hadley. Kent State Univ., $29.95 (280p) ISBN 978-1-60635-400-1

Journalist Elder (Mixtape of My Life) delivers an exhaustive study of comics in which Ernest Hemingway is referenced or appears as a character, presenting generous extracts of illustrations, along with interviews with comics writers and artists about their relationship with Hemingway. Some of the comics riff on familiar aspects of the—already somewhat cartoonish—Hemingway persona (such as a Doonesbury strip that references his testy relationship with F. Scott Fitzgerald), while some are simply bizarre. For instance, a Disney-published Italian comic, Per chi suona il campanello (For Whom the Doorbell Rings), has Hemingway visiting Topolino, the Italian Mickey Mouse, to give him life advice. Eric Peterson, in his comic Jesus Christ: In the Name of the Son, imagines Hemingway as a hard-drinking, time-traveling robot. Other examples given by Elder, however, strike still unfamiliar but less discordant notes, including a reverential manga adaptation of The Old Man and the Sea. Perhaps most affecting is Norwegian artist Jason’s comic The Left Bank Gang, based on A Moveable Feast, in which Hemingway, drawn as an anthropomorphic dog, wanders Paris and interacts with canine versions of James Joyce and Gertrude Stein. While Hemingway fans may find the discussion of Papa’s works relatively superficial, comics fans will find much to savor. (Sept.)