“So it goes.” In September 2020, BOOM! Studios is set to publish a graphic novel adaptation of the late Kurt Vonnegut‘s classic novel Slaughterhouse-Five through its Archaia imprint. Ryan North is writing the script, with art and colors by Albert Monteys and color assistance by Ricard Zaplana. This marks the first time Vonnegut’s work has been adapted into a graphic novel, though his body of work has maintained popularity and relevancy for the last several decades.
Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death is an anti-war story infused with science fiction. The book follows the “unstuck in time” World War II soldier Billy Pilgrim through war and post-war times, centering on his capture by the German Army and his survival of the Allied bombing of Dresden in 1945; Billy’s experiences as a Prisoner of War are based on Vonnegut’s own. Slaughterhouse-Five is told in a non-linear way, with Billy appearing to travel through time and space, including a stint where he is held in an alien zoo on the planet Tralfamadore.
“Like most people, Kurt Vonnegut has been one of my favourite writers since I first read his books decades ago, and it’s been such an honour—and challenge—to adapt his most famous work for a new medium. Slaughterhouse-Five is a deeply funny and deeply moving book, and my goal with this project was to keep all of that, while still making something that feels at home in this medium,” said North in a statement. “I picture it as a window into an alternate universe where Kurt (and Kilgore Trout) worked in comics instead of prose. Every medium can do things that others can’t, I’m beyond excited to share this new version of Slaughterhouse-Five with you very soon.”
Also in a statement, Monteys said, “What a challenge, what an opportunity! When I was presented with the chance to collaborate in the graphic novel adaptation of Slaughterhouse-Five my first reaction was ‘this is one of my favorite books and it can’t be adapted.’ That was until I read Ryan North’s script, nodding enthusiastically at every great idea, every moving moment, every scene that made me want to grab my pencil right away. A good adaptation shines new light on the original, I hope we managed to do just that. I think we did, somewhat, in the telegraphic schizophrenic manner of tales of the planet Tralfamadore—which is what comics are, after all.”
North is known for his work on The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, the Adventure Time comics, and his choose-your-own adventure William Shakespeare books, as well as his humorous strip Dinosaur Comics. Monteys is also known for his humorous work, in particular his illustrations for the satirical weekly magazine El Jueves, of which he was the director from 2006 to 2011. Seeing as Slaughterhouse-Five is celebrated for its bleak humor and sharp satire, this creative team is perfect to take on a graphic novel adaptation.
BOOM! Studios Executive Editor Sierra Hahn said, “The trust and support shown by the Vonnegut family [in the production of this adaptation] is gratifying for everyone who poured their hearts into ensuring we could best represent Kurt Vonnegut’s seminal work while creating something new in the graphic novel space. We believe we’ve created a gateway book for new Vonnegut readers and a book any longtime fan will admire and want on their shelves.”
Slaughterhouse-Five is slated to hit shelves from Archaia in September. The book is also in development as a TV series at Epix, under Happy! showrunner Patrick Macmanus.
You can pre-order the graphic novel from your local comic shop or bookstore, or online through the BOOM! Studios webstore. For more information, visit boom-studios.com. You can check out a seven-page preview below.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article ran with a misspelling of Ricard Zaplana’s last name and listed him as the sole colorist on Slaughterhouse-Five. We apologize for this error.