Current Graphic Novel Adaptations of Literary Works: A Corpus-Based Analysis


  • Nicolangelo Becce



multimodality, corpus linguistics, graphic novels, adaptation


Over the last few years, a growing number of graphic adaptations of literary works have been published, and they seem to differ from comic book adaptations like the Classics Illustrated series or the more recently published Saddleback, Campfire, and Classical Comics in their not being specifically targeted to younger readers as simplified versions of the literary works they derive from (see Tabachnick and Saltzman 2015; see also Pizzino 2016, for a current analysis of the “status problem” of contemporary comics). Recent graphic literary works such as Hyman’s authorized adaptation of Jackson’s “The Lottery” (2016), Duffy and Jennings’ adaptation of Butler’s Kindred (2017), and Hamilton’s authorized adaptation of Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 (2009), offer a unique opportunity to reflect upon how the textual component changes according to the two different media. Through the creation of a corpus made by a selected number of recent graphic novel adaptations and their literary counterparts, this paper aims at understanding the interactions and negotiations in the adaptation process from literature to comics in terms of lexical selection and semantic analysis by using corpus linguistics software such as AntWordProfiler (Anthony 2018) and Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC; Pennebaker et al. 2015).


Anthony, Laurence. AntConc (Version 3.5.7) [Computer Software]. Tokyo: Waseda University, 2018.

Available from
Baker, Paul. Using Corpora in Discourse Analysis. New York: Continuum, 2006.

Bavaro, Vincenzo and Donatella Izzo. “Comics, fumetti, graphic novels: dialogo intergenerazionale su un medium indisciplinato.” Il graphic novel negli Stati Uniti. Ácoma - Rivista Internazionale di Studi NordAmericani 38 (primavera 2009 – anno XVI): 7-26.

Booker, Keith M. (ed.). Encyclopedia of Comic Books and Graphic Novels (2 Vols.). Santa Barbara: ABCCLIO, 2010.

Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2003.
Butler, Octavia. Kindred. Boston: Beacon Press, 1988.

Drnaso, Nick. Sabrina. Montreal: Drawn and Quarterly, 2018.

Duffy, Damian and John Jennings. Octavia E. Butler’s Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation. New York: Abrams ComicArts, 2017.

Hamilton, Tim. Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451: The Authorized Adaptation. New York: Hill and Wang, 2009.

Hutcheon, Linda. A Theory of Adaptation. Derby: Routledge, 2013.
Hyman, Miles. Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery: The Authorized Graphic Adaptation. New York: Hill and Wang, 2016.

Jackson, Shirley. “The Lottery” (1948), from Ann Charters (ed.) The Story and Its Writer. Ninth Edition. Boston: Bedford / St. Martin’s, 2015, 624-630.

Karasik, Paul, and David Mazzucchelli. City of Glass: The Graphic Novel. New York: Picador, 2004.

Mitaine, Benoit, David Roche, and Isabelle Schmitt-Pitiot, eds. Comics and Adaptation. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2018.

Pennebaker, James W., et al. Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count: LIWC2015. Austin: Pennebaker Conglomerates, 2015. Available from

---. The development and psychometric properties of LIWC2015. Austin: University of Texas at Austin, 2015.

Pizzino, Christopher. Arresting Development: Comics at the Boundaries of Literature. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2016.

Stein, Daniel, and Jan-Noël Thon (eds.). From Comic Strips to Graphic Novels. Göttingen: De Gruyter, 2013.

Tabachnick, Stephen E., and Esther Bendit Saltzman (eds.). Drawn from the C






Articles (general section) - English language and linguistics