This article is part of ComicVerse’s back2skool series! Check the rest of the articles out here!

Required Reading. Those two words are with you throughout your academic career, through grade school, high school, and college. The list of classic novels, plays, short stories and novellas you’ll have to get through can vary in size depending on the class or your major. In no way do I want to add to your stress by giving you more suggested reading. However, graphic novels of these iconic classics might just be the thing you need this school year.

READ: Need tips on how to survive the school year? Well, look no further!

Comics are a unique medium for storytelling and often times a single page is able to deliver a scene and its tone, characters, and setting just as well as its parent text. While these adaptations don’t replace reading the actual novel or play, they provide good references for understanding the basic themes and significant plot points. So if you think you may need a bit of help this year, or you’re just interested in finding out how some of these classics have been adapted for illustrated narrative, check out the list below!

1. Shakespeare

SparkNotes publishes these three editions under their No Fear Shakespeare imprint. Multiple works of Shakespeare’s continue to be staples in the American curriculum. You’d usually read these in high school, and maybe again as an undergrad or graduate student, particularly if you decide to study English literature, theater, or creative writing. Comic books are especially helpful when reading plays because, unlike novels, written stage works are often not as detailed when introducing a setting or describing character actions. If anything, these comic books can help students visualize a story and its events.

Bonus:

 

Ryan North’s Choose-Your-Own-Adventure adaptations of Shakespeare’s two most popular works aren’t comic books but there are plenty of illustrations drawn by multiple artists and the content puts a spin on both tragedies. I wouldn’t recommend using these books as references for the original plays, especially not since they involve allowing you to explore Juliet becoming a pirate, Romeo living a long and happy life as a maid, or “playing” as the ghost of Hamlet’s father who loves meddling in the affairs of the living. These books are fun reads for anyone curious about the “what-ifs” for these famous tales.

Where to buy them:

Barnes and Noble: MACBETH, HAMLET, ROMEO AND JULIET, ROMEO AND/OR JULIET, TO BE OR NOT TO BE

Amazon: MACBETH, HAMLET, ROMEO AND JULIET, ROMEO AND/OR JULIETTO BE OR NOT TO BE

 

2. Gothic Novels

These are some of the classic horror stories. Although these books were more about the horrors of humanity, grappling with and giving not so subtle lessons on morality; never forget that DRACULA is basically an allegory for all the perils and damnation of sexuality. These comic adaptations definitely put more focus on the horror elements, though. From the dark and stormy nights, the seemingly abandoned castles, to the shadows that creep through victim’s windows at night, can all be found here!

Where to buy them:

Barnes and Noble: FRANKENSTEIN, DRACULA, DR.JEKYLL AND MR.HYDE

Amazon: FRANKENSTEIN, DRACULADR.JEKYLL AND MR.HYDE

Other Graphic Revolve editions include: WAR OF THE WORLDS, THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW, HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES, THE ADVENTURES OF HERCULES, and more!

3. Jane Austen

 

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE is definitely the most famous of Austen’s works so it makes sense that it, along with EMMA and SENSE AND SENSIBILITY, would get adapted into practically every art form, including manga. Austen’s themes of class, gender, society and politics come together with floral backgrounds, Georgian fashion, and perfectly flowing and curly hair in these three editions, adapted by Stacy King and illustrated by artist Po-Tse.

Where to buy them:

Barnes and Noble: PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, EMMA, SENSE AND SENSIBILITY

Amazon: PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, EMMA, SENSE AND SENSIBILITY

The Manga Classics series also includes: LES MISERABLES, GREAT EXPECTATIONS, and JANE EYRE so check those out too!

Miscellaneous

These are just three other graphic novels that could prove useful during your academic year. Of course, every school’s curriculum is different, but these tend to be the top choices for students. You may need other works, such as TOM SAWYER, HUCKLEBERRY FINN or THE SCARLET LETTER. But if your list has some unique titles, look for adaptations or works that use the title as source material. You might find what you need, from A WRINKLE IN TIME to THE CALL OF THE WILD to THE ODYSSEY. And of course, you can check your local bookstore to see if they have any of the featured adaptations in stock.

Where to buy them:

Barnes and Noble: A WRINKLE IN TIME, THE CALL OF THE WILDTHE ODYSSEY

Amazon: A WRINKLE IN TIME, THE CALL OF THE WILDTHE ODYSSEY

As for my fellow English majors, I wish I could make a more extensive list for you that includes all of the more unusual or underground material you might have to read. To you, I say: good luck, stock up on bookmarks (or battery life if you’re an e-book reader), and never pay full price for a classic if you can find it used, electronically, or on Project Gutenberg.

Now get to reading!

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