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A Graphic Novel Adaptation Of Octavia Butler's 'Kindred' Is In The Works... Again (Movie Next?)

by Tambay A. Obenson
May 7, 2013 7:13 PM
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Octavia Butler Sci-fi

Catching up on my emails and saw this announcement (via press release) sent to me a few days ago. 

In short, publisher Abrams ComicArts has announced that the company will publish a graphic novel based on Octavia E. Butler’s classic novel Kindred

Abrams acquired rights to the novel from Writers House literary agent Merrilee Heifetz, and will be edited by Carol Burrell under the direction of Abrams ComicArts editorial director Charles Kochman

The graphic novel will be adapted by Damian Duffy and illustrated by John Jennings, with a fall 2014 publish date planned under the Abrams ComicArts imprint.

I should note that, as maybe one of Butler's most *commercial* novels, this isn't the first time that an attempt at a graphic novel adaptation of the book has been made. 

My research tells me that in 2007, literary agent Merrilee Heifetz, who represents the Butler estate, announced that she’d received permission from the estate to seek out publishers to produce comics adaptations of Butler’s novels. At the time, there were no deals in place, but Heifetz had begun shopping the idea to graphic novel publishers, stating that “The estate wants to make sure that Octavia’s audience continues to grow... they want to make sure she has younger readers.” 

2 years later, in 2009, Beacon Press, marking the 30th anniversary of the novel, announced a collaboration with the Butler estate to produce a graphic novel adaptation of Kindred, and they released a call for proposals from cartoonists/illustrators to work on the adaptation.

In my research, I couldn't find any evidence that Beacon Press did eventually publish a graphic novel adaptation of the novel. But if anyone knows otherwise, do share. 

But today's news from Abrams ComicArts suggests that Beacon likely did not, as agent Heifetz apparently moved on to another publisher.

I can only imagine what the delay is in getting this done. It's been 6 years since the project to adapt all of Butler's novels was announced, but, as far as I can tell, there has been no progress since then.

What could the problems be, especially when the estate really seems to want to get this done? 

If I learn more, I'll share here.

As for a movie adaptation of not only Kindred, but for any of Butler's works... I wouldn't hold my breath. However, graphic novel adaptations of her novels is a step in the right direction, if only because, as reps for her estate said above, they might become more accessible to the young audiences that Hollywood studio production decisions target most often - especially where the more expensive movies are concerned.

And the more popular they become, they more likely they are to get the right kind of attention.

Although I should also note that Ernest Dickerson has long been trying to raise funding for his adaptation of Butler's 1984 novel Clay's Ark.

Let's hope that, this time, definite progress will be made on the graphic novel adaptations.

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  • Writrrgrrrl | July 26, 2013 11:41 AMReply

    Wow! I love her books I'd love to see this expand her audience she's brilliant.

  • bashe | July 6, 2013 10:47 AMReply

    As much as I like film, I can't help but wish Kinderd would get made by HBO or Showtime into a dark, disturbing series... (And hey---the whole pairing-a-black-female-with-a-white-male angle is baked into the originl source

  • ayesha | July 6, 2013 8:50 AMReply

    I wish you turn this book into a movie one of the best books

  • Donella | May 24, 2013 6:22 PMReply

    Tambay, I'm so excited that you shared Dickerson's working on Clay's Ark which is true to Octavia Butler's writing style. I love the book's structure and how it jumps backward and forward to tell the same story from three or four different perspectives. The only struggle I have is that the book is so violent and downbeat and hopeless and despairing. I really wouldn't mind if Dickerson found some way to insert an element of hope and uplift.

  • urbanauteur | May 9, 2013 1:46 PMReply

    Her DAWN Trilogy would make a excellent movie, something on the lines of Lord of the Rings.

  • Donella | May 8, 2013 8:56 PMReply

    I've been tracking Kindred, too because I'm highly interested in all aspects of Butler's work. I learned of the same from Butler's estate. I don't have anything new to add to what you discovered, Tambay, but Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents would also do well as accessible science fiction films with fundraising and marketing across the African diaspora.

  • James Madison | May 8, 2013 12:12 AMReply

    Curious to see what develops. I am hoping for something to be done with her last book Fledgling.

  • Melody | May 7, 2013 8:28 PMReply

    Loved this book! Hopefully it can go the way of The Walking Dead and finally get some film treatment later

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