Slaughterhouse-Five is Kurt Vonnegut’s science fictional anti-war novel loosely based on his experiences during the Second World War and the bombing of Dresden. In it the main character, Billy Pilgrim, is captured by German soldiers during the Battle of the Bulge. The story is told in a non-sequential order with Billy experiencing flashbacks and time-travel including an experience in a Tralfamadorian zoo.
Many people might think turning Slaughterhouse-Five into a graphic novel is not the best way to honour such a great book. That it cheapens the story in some way. I’m not inclined to think this way. I prefer to see it as a way to introduce a new generation of readers to this very important book.
Slaugherhouse-Five’s anti-war message is more important now than ever I think. We are living in a world where extreme violence is touching the lives of more and more people. With the ever broadening definition of what constitutes war, the world needs a message countering it. Boom! Studios, by turning Slaughterhouse-Five into a format that will appeal to people that might not necessarily have read Vonnegut’s book for themselves, opens that message up to a new and younger audience.
Vonnegut’s ironic black humour and wry style will appeal to many younger readers. His style will help open them up to the message Vonnegut is trying to relate. Vonnegut’s iconic style aside, the story itself is very visual and lends itself easily to the artist when drawing it. Beyond the visuals of Dresden both before and after the bombing there is a lot of creative room in drawing the Tralfamadorians and their world. Slaugherhouse-Five is ideal for the medium of a graphic novel.
While the method might not appeal to purists, I believe the results can only be positive in the end. Regardless of what appeals to the reader of the upcoming graphic novel, whether it’s the writer Ryan North, the artist, Albert Monteys, or any other reason, Boom! Studios is doing the world a service by putting Kurt Vonnegut’s work in the public eye once more.
Admittedly I am biased when it comes to the writing of Kurt Vonnegut. I would recommend this graphic novel even if it didn’t have such a timely and significant message to deliver. Regardless of my bias, I am sure that this could be a very influential piece of work for many of the readers that will experience this story for the first time.
Slaugherhouse-Five is a powerful and timeless piece of work and the time has come once more for its message to be heard. I hope Boom! Studios’ efforts will do just that and that readers of this graphic novel will take that further step and read Kurt Vonnegut’s novel for themselves and appreciate its message without the filter of adaptation.
Slaughterhouse-Five from Boom! Studios is scheduled for publication September 2020.