Catching up on my emails and saw this announcement (via press release) sent to me a few days ago.
In short, publisher Abrams ComicArts has announced that the company will publish a graphic novel based on Octavia E. Butler’s classic novel Kindred.
Abrams acquired rights to the novel from Writers House literary agent Merrilee Heifetz, and will be edited by Carol Burrell under the direction of Abrams ComicArts editorial director Charles Kochman.
The graphic novel will be adapted by Damian Duffy and illustrated by John Jennings, with a fall 2014 publish date planned under the Abrams ComicArts imprint.
I should note that, as maybe one of Butler’s most *commercial* novels, this isn’t the first time that an attempt at a graphic novel adaptation of the book has been made.
My research tells me that in 2007, literary agent Merrilee Heifetz, who represents the Butler estate, announced that she’d received permission from the estate to seek out publishers to produce comics adaptations of Butler’s novels. At the time, there were no deals in place, but Heifetz had begun shopping the idea to graphic novel publishers, stating that “The estate wants to make sure that Octavia’s audience continues to grow… they want to make sure she has younger readers.”
2 years later, in 2009, Beacon Press, marking the 30th anniversary of the novel, announced a collaboration with the Butler estate to produce a graphic novel adaptation of Kindred, and they released a call for proposals from cartoonists/illustrators to work on the adaptation.
In my research, I couldn’t find any evidence that Beacon Press did eventually publish a graphic novel adaptation of the novel. But if anyone knows otherwise, do share.
But today’s news from Abrams ComicArts suggests that Beacon likely did not, as agent Heifetz apparently moved on to another publisher.
I can only imagine what the delay is in getting this done. It’s been 6 years since the project to adapt all of Butler’s novels was announced, but, as far as I can tell, there has been no progress since then.
What could the problems be, especially when the estate really seems to want to get this done?
If I learn more, I’ll share here.
As for a movie adaptation of not only Kindred, but for any of Butler’s works… I wouldn’t hold my breath. However, graphic novel adaptations of her novels is a step in the right direction, if only because, as reps for her estate said above, they might become more accessible to the young audiences that Hollywood studio production decisions target most often – especially where the more expensive movies are concerned.
And the more popular they become, they more likely they are to get the right kind of attention.
Although I should also note that Ernest Dickerson has long been trying to raise funding for his adaptation of Butler’s 1984 novel Clay’s Ark.
Let’s hope that, this time, definite progress will be made on the graphic novel adaptations.