Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Children's Hour

Last week I reported upon Peter Mendelsund's complete makeover of the series of eight Kafka book covers for the Knopf imprint, Schocken. His new covers are receiving wide attention and critical praise in the book world now—rightly so. Not to steal any of Mendelsund's thunder, but I want to report on another reinterpretation of a Kafka book—this time for The Metamorphosis. As a project for my book design class last quarter, student Cynthia Johnston recreated Kafka's text of Gregor and his dramatic transformation into a giant bug and adapted it as a story for young adults. I don't know if this is the first time this book has been reinterpreted for an audience of young people, but I do know the story has been adapted for video games such as, Bad Mojo and Spore: Gallactic Adventures; a comic novella by Robert Crumb called Introducing Kafka; and even Matt Groening wrote a Simpsons parody called Metamorphosimpsons which appeared in the book, Treehouse of Horror Spook-tacular. I encouraged Cynthia to give it a go and was convinced she could succeed when I saw her beautiful watercolor illustrations of the Samsa household. I'm including a sneak preview of just a few of her works here for now. Later this week, each student will be casebinding their completed texts and I hope to add more photos of their final books later. I haven't been very good about photographing many of them in the past, but should post photos on a Flickr site eventually as they really are something to see. Did I mention that my students have taken top honors in the Bookbuilders West scholarship program in San Francisco for the past 4 years in a row? I'm really quite proud of them all. In any event, here is a glimpse of three of Cynthia's illustrations for The Metamorphosis. They were produced in her illustration class taught by Claire Cowie. Note her bug-patterned wallpaper! Anyone want to recommend a publisher out there who might want to take this on?
A bug's eye view overlooking the Samsa household and Gregor's bedroom. Click to enlarge!

Gregor's mother faints upon seeing him as a giant bug.

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