BACK TO SCHOOL SPECIAL
Fahrenheit 451, re-born as a graphic novel.
By Michael Gill
Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451
authorized graphic novel by Tim Hamilton
Farrar, Straus, and Giraux, July, 2009
Fifty-six years after it was first published, high school kids are still reading Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, the novel named for the temperature at which paper spontaneously catches fire. The novel tells of a world in which “firemen” have been re-purposed, their jobs being no longer to put out fires, but to start them to eliminate books— which in the story’s dystopian world have been outlawed.
The novel has been repeatedly recast in different media: a film by Francois Truffaut, Bradbury’s own stage adaptation (last seen around here in a Beck Center production about a decade ago), even a computer game. The latest is Tim Hamilton’s graphic novel version, which Bradbury authorized, and for which he wrote an introduction. The story’s most chilling message—that in this dystopian world it wasn’t dictatorial authorities that mandated the burning of books, but instead a grass-roots mandate in the interest of equalizing the population—remains intact, as do the original book’s other key scenes and cautionary points.
The key attraction is the art: Hamilton’s drawings have a dramatic, well-detailed comic book style that realistically create’s the story’s world and uses the multi-panel format to shift perspectives on a scene. It’s luxuriously presented, too, in full color with full bleeds that make Montag’s fires, thoughts, and relationship with 17 year-old Clarisse spill off the page.