Since its release in 1960, Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird has remained one of the United States' most beloved novels, selling more than 40 million copies; Harper Lee herself, until her death in 2016, remained one of the United States' most reclusive writers, uninterested in publicity or contemporary re-boots of her work. But because, hey, it's 2017 and anything is possible, Harper Lee's estate just endorsed a To Kill A Mockingbird graphic novel. Get ready to cry real good.
In a statement earlier this week, Harper Lee's estate announced that the story of Scout Finch, whose childhood in small town Alabama is punctuated by a racially-charged trial and the heartbreaking aftermath, will soon hit shelves in a graphic re-telling. The project will be helmed by artist Fred Fordham, who recently collaborated with Phillip Pullman on The Adventures of John Blake: Mystery of the Ghost Ship. "Adapting a story that means so much to so many – and finding the appropriate art style to give it life in a long-form visual medium – is a great honor and responsibility, and, mercifully, also a great pleasure," Mr. Fordham told The Guardian.
Though the work is still in the storyboard phase, an initial illustration has been released by the publisher, William Heinemann, an imprint of Penguin Random House - and like, yeah, my heart immediately started hurting.
It will be interesting, certainly, to see the adaption of a written work into a graphic novel - how do you parse what to illustrate and what to leave alone, when the original author is gone? How will a visual re-telling affect a story that on a basic level revolves around differences in appearance? Even the film adaption, released in 1962, was in black and white.
...okay also what is Boo Radley going to look like? I'm nervous.
In addition to the upcoming graphic novel, Harper Lee's hometown of Monroeville, Ala. has announced plans to open a series of tourist attractions later this year, including a museum within the courthouse where Lee's father kept an office, and replicas of the three houses where so much of To Kill A Mockingbird took place - Scout, Boo Radley, and Dill Harris' homes. Whether this is keeping with Lee's legacy is certainly murky, but the projects are being overseen by her lawyer, Tonja Carter, so it is legal.
The graphic novel will be released November 2018 through William Heinemann.