Alibi V.12 No.24 • June 12-18, 2003 

Art Article

Graphic Classics, Volume 5 (Jack London)

The introduction, titled "Eight Factors of Literary Success," is excerpted from a Jack London letter which appeared in Silhouette Magazine in 1917. London encapsulates his boyhood working on a ranch, as well as his adventures as a sailor, gold prospector and so forth, before delving into a literary strategy he derived from Herbert Spencer's Philosophy of Style.

In the offbeat story "A Thousand Deaths" a drowned sailor finds himself revived by a mad scientist on an island. He then becomes a guinea pig for a series of executions and resuscitations. Adapted and stylishly illustrated into comic book form by J.B. Bonivert, this tale includes a rather Greek tragic element in that the sailor secretly recognizes the scientist as his own father!

Peter Kuper provides three excellent pen and ink drawings for the full text of London's gripping short "War" in which a soldier on horseback is torn between his duties and a foolhardy attempt to abscond with some apples.

My favorite artist in this edition has to be Leslie Reppeteaux. Her illustrations for the One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest-like "Told in the Drooling Ward" seem, at first glance, to be little more than glorified stick figures yet convey great emotion in a unique style.

With an impressive collection of artistic talent helping out, this book shows that London was an inventive writer of ironic short tales as well as a novelist. I hope to get my hands on the pending Graphic Classics treatment of Bram Stoker as well.