Burn through ‘Fahrenheit 451’ as a graphic novel

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray BradburyIn the futuristic world of Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, anyone caught reading or possessing books is confined to a mental institution. Television watching, on the other hand, is encouraged because it doesn’t inspire free thinking and critical thought.

In real life, Bradbury’s book has inspired Tim Hamilton to reinterpret this evocative, timeless story as a graphic novel – an extended comic book.

A wee bit ironic?

Fahrenheit 451 is the earliest science-fiction novel I remember reading. It didn’t turn me into a sci-fi fan (although I highly recommend Orson Scott Card’s Ender series), but it surprised me with the author’s ability to make me care about a story I didn’t think I could believe in.

Society burns books in Fahrenheit 451. Montag, the main character, gets 24 hours to read his before he must turn them over for incineration. He’s overwhelmed by the unfamiliar task and seeks out Faber, a retired English professor, to help him understand.

“The value of books,” Faber tells him, “lies in the detailed awareness of life that they contain.”

A graphic novel necessarily relies on images to convey much of the story. This means, of course, that most of Bradbury’s words – the details – are gone.

Fahrenheit 451 isn’t an easy book to read or understand. My fear is this: Are we close enough to Bradbury’s 24th-century complacency that people will read the graphic novel and believe they’ve “read” Fahrenheit 451?

Can a TV show be far behind?


5 thoughts on “Burn through ‘Fahrenheit 451’ as a graphic novel

  1. Interesting post. It reminds me a bit of how some producers wanted to televise “Amusing ourselves to Death” by Neil Postman. Though I also have to add that I have neither read Fahrenheit 451 the book, nor seen the graphic novel. But this post makes me want to read the book for sure. 🙂
    By the way, if you like the Ender series, check out the Vorkosigan saga by Lois McMaster Bujold. It’s nothing short of Sci-Fi gold.

  2. I teach Fahrenheit 451 each year in High School and each year I am challenged by problems that I think I have encountered before. This year my kids ( lazy to the core ) grasped the images of the graphic novel in order to learn the dreaded quotes needed to pass the exam. As such the graphic adaptation is rich in imagery which transforms kids into keen learners …..
    They may hate reading , but they do understand the irony ….


    • Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you found an approach to engage the kids. My son doesn’t like to read, either, except the rare book that really captures his imagination. I just hope kids like him don’t always look for an “easy” way out with learning. Then again, I remember that when he was struggling to tie his shoes as a very young child, someone told me not to worry — few adults do not know how to tie their own shoes. Maybe the same philosophy applies to reading books!

  3. Will it be the *exact* same story? Probably not, but I’ve never read or seen a retelling that managed to capture everything the original was. I wouldn’t want to, in fact. That doesn’t mean that a graphic novel can’t tell the same story in a new and interesting way. It also doesn’t mean that the themes are any less relevant to comic books; while they doesn’t have quite the pedigree of the novel, comics have a long history full of censorship and struggle. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comics_Code_Authority) If you are ever curious about an excellent story in comic form, give Maus a try. It may surprise you.

    • Thanks, I will try it. I’m also intrigued by what you said about comics having a long history of censorship. Thanks for sharing this information!

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