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Moby Dick

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A masterful adaptation of the timeless literary classic, faithfully and beautifully rendered by an award-winning artist. In striking black-and-white illustrations, Chaboute retells the story of the Great American Novel. Captain Ahab strikes out on a voyage, obsessively seeking revenge on the great white whale that took his leg. This hardcover edition collects both of the A masterful adaptation of the timeless literary classic, faithfully and beautifully rendered by an award-winning artist. In striking black-and-white illustrations, Chaboute retells the story of the Great American Novel. Captain Ahab strikes out on a voyage, obsessively seeking revenge on the great white whale that took his leg. This hardcover edition collects both of the Vents d'Ouest volumes, printed in English for the first time.


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A masterful adaptation of the timeless literary classic, faithfully and beautifully rendered by an award-winning artist. In striking black-and-white illustrations, Chaboute retells the story of the Great American Novel. Captain Ahab strikes out on a voyage, obsessively seeking revenge on the great white whale that took his leg. This hardcover edition collects both of the A masterful adaptation of the timeless literary classic, faithfully and beautifully rendered by an award-winning artist. In striking black-and-white illustrations, Chaboute retells the story of the Great American Novel. Captain Ahab strikes out on a voyage, obsessively seeking revenge on the great white whale that took his leg. This hardcover edition collects both of the Vents d'Ouest volumes, printed in English for the first time.

30 review for Moby Dick

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sam Quixote

    Artist Christophe Chaboute adapts into comics what is considered to be THE Great American Novel, Herman Melville’s classic Moby Dick. What’d I think? Call me… ambivalent! Chaboute’s adaptation is faithful to the original, including all the major themes/scenes/characters and hitting the same story beats, bar the most famous opening line in all world literature - “Call me Ishmael” - which is cleverly relocated. The story, if you’re somehow unfamiliar with it: set in the 19th century at the height Artist Christophe Chaboute adapts into comics what is considered to be THE Great American Novel, Herman Melville’s classic Moby Dick. What’d I think? Call me… ambivalent! Chaboute’s adaptation is faithful to the original, including all the major themes/scenes/characters and hitting the same story beats, bar the most famous opening line in all world literature - “Call me Ishmael” - which is cleverly relocated. The story, if you’re somehow unfamiliar with it: set in the 19th century at the height of the whaling industry operating out of Nantucket, New England, our humble narrator Ishmael sets sail on what turns out to be the tragic final voyage of the doomed whaling ship, the Pequod. Its captain is the mad Ahab whose obsession with hunting down the vicious white sperm whale who ate his leg, Moby Dick, threatens to kill his entire crew. It sounds like a way cooler story than it actually is. I thought Melville’s original wasn’t bad but very overrated. The writing style is outdated, the pacing is near glacial, the symbolism is far too heavy-handed (the life raft is a literal coffin!), and it’s overstuffed with laborious passages detailing the utterly boring pedantic minutiae of whaling. By far the best aspect of reading Chaboute’s comic over Melville’s original is the absence of these dreary chapters, not least because visually showing the whaling process instead is vastly more effective at giving you an idea of what it entailed. Some of the pages are quite haunting with its black and white aesthetic and moody silence due to Chaboute’s choice of having a largely unobtrusive narrator, but I found the art mostly unimpressive. Also, the characters designs were unmemorable with too many characters looking alike. I’m probably overfamiliar with the story which is why I wasn’t that engaged with the narrative. It’s not a standout version of the tale but on the whole it’s a decent book. New readers looking to read Moby Dick quickly without having to trudge through Melville’s thick prose will be well-served by Christophe Chaboute’s adaptation.

  2. 5 out of 5

    David Schaafsma

    250 page black and white tome, a solid graphic/illustrated/comics adaptation of the central action of one of the Great American Novels about Captain Ahab obsessively seeking revenge on the Great White Whale (uh, that would be your titular character, Moby Dick) that took his leg. The original novel, much admired and much hated, is not just an adventure story, it’s a wonderfully messy and wide-ranging exploration of ideas. Charcoute enacts a version of the tale that visually gets at the madness 250 page black and white tome, a solid graphic/illustrated/comics adaptation of the central action of one of the Great American Novels about Captain Ahab obsessively seeking revenge on the Great White Whale (uh, that would be your titular character, Moby Dick) that took his leg. The original novel, much admired and much hated, is not just an adventure story, it’s a wonderfully messy and wide-ranging exploration of ideas. Charcoute enacts a version of the tale that visually gets at the madness and obsession of Ahab. I was reminded of Pablo Auladell’s Paradise Lost, another literary mountain to climb. Charcoute, like Auladell, largely turns the text into a visual poem, and does an admirable job ob it visually, especially of the madness of Ahab. And with confrontations with Starbuck. And the actual action scenes with the whale! Reminds me a bit of the black and white adventure comics of Jacques Tardi or Hugo Pratt’s Corto Maltese: The Ballad of the Salt Sea. It falls short of the glory of the original, but if you like adventure stories/comics, here you are, a powerful rendition. A YouTube preview, 1:45 minutes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wdoEL... Gregory Peck in 1956 film version: http://www.tcm.com/mediaroom/video/33...

  3. 4 out of 5

    Trish

    Moby Dick is considered one of the great American novels. Many also consider it a terrible drag what with all the details the autor, Herman Melville, included about whaling and living on a whaling ship. This is an alternative, or an addendum. A graphic novel version in black-and-white panels with gritty art. Personally, I think it's a great way to ease readers into the story (or replace the novel form). The gritty art underlines the harsh life of whalers and the horrible things they did to those Moby Dick is considered one of the great American novels. Many also consider it a terrible drag what with all the details the autor, Herman Melville, included about whaling and living on a whaling ship. This is an alternative, or an addendum. A graphic novel version in black-and-white panels with gritty art. Personally, I think it's a great way to ease readers into the story (or replace the novel form). The gritty art underlines the harsh life of whalers and the horrible things they did to those poor animals (yes, I'm team whale all the way). It also puts an emphasis on the determination and obsession of Ahab, his spiral down into his psychological abyss. So yeah, this is about Nantucket and Ishmael and Ahab and the whale and the sinking of the whaling ship and the fate of the remaining crew that we know of from the novel. However, at least as important as the story told is the story shown in the panels. These, however, were my favourites: So yeah, the book is as dark as the story, complimenting the transferred words of the novel wonderfully.

  4. 4 out of 5

    J. Kent Messum

    *Review originally published in the New York Journal Of Books: http://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/book-... Adaptations of classics can be tricky things. Television and film often come up against the usual suspects: problems with length, translation, or the fact that some novels don’t lend themselves well to other art forms. Whether a reinterpretation or a stickler for source material, updated versions of literature’s great works have their work cut out for them. Christophe Chaboute’s graphic novel *Review originally published in the New York Journal Of Books: http://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/book-... Adaptations of classics can be tricky things. Television and film often come up against the usual suspects: problems with length, translation, or the fact that some novels don’t lend themselves well to other art forms. Whether a reinterpretation or a stickler for source material, updated versions of literature’s great works have their work cut out for them. Christophe Chaboute’s graphic novel of Herman Melville’s masterpiece Moby Dick is no different, though it makes a valiant effort and harpoons a good deal of the targets set before it. Chaboute’s version follows Melville’s book closely, particularly in spirit. This is no small feat as narrative is almost nonexistent and dialogue dominates the pages. He effectively says more with less, letting his pictures paint thousands of words. Drawn in a stark pen and ink pared-down style, the work has a throwback vibe that works well in the context of a classic. It’s got a sharp edge and bleak tone to it, helping to render characters as the hard seafaring men they are, as well as showing the relentless pursuit of Moby Dick as the cold, calculated, vengeful act it is. The panels are often tilted, giving a superb off-balance sense of life aboard an old sailing ship on the open ocean. Chaboute often speaks only in silhouettes to great effect. The black and white also recalls a time and era when people thought much more in terms of such. Captain Ahab’s madness and single-mindedness of purpose are reflected commendably, as well as the alternating loyalty and increasing worry of his men aboard the Pequod. The tale of the great white whale moves at a good pace in this form, granting a fair amount of valuable insight to a sailor’s lonely life as well as the savagery, courage, and often misguided heroism of whaling in its early days. This graphic novel was not without a few faults, however. Right off the bat, the introduction written by John Arcudi is a bit presumptuous. The heaps of praise and endorsement are to be expected, but there are some substantial claims made before a reader has even got to the first official page. Arcudi takes great pains to insinuate (if not downright tell us) what we should think of the book before judging for ourselves. By the finale of this version of Moby Dick it seems obvious he was off the mark on a couple things. As the introduction is the first thing read, it proves to be a slight turn off going in, while also setting the bar a little higher than appropriate. The expectations set are not entirely met. The minimalist artistic style of Chaboute has its merits, but at times one can’t help but think that Moby Dick deserved more, maybe even simply some needed shades of grey. The sheer black and white lacks depth after a while, something that Melville’s original book had plenty of. Also, someone needs to educate Chaboute in a more nuanced use of the exclamation point. Practically every sentence of dialogue (and it’s almost all dialogue) ends in an exclamation point, giving the impression that all characters are constantly raising their voices, even when they’re clearly not. It seems a trifling complaint at first, but becomes increasingly annoying as the pages wear on, soon establishing a monotonous feeling of forced volume throughout the novel. This overuse feels a bit childish, akin to a cheap comic book, a detraction that could have been easily rectified before publication. Despite these setbacks, Chaboute’s adaptation is well worth the time of any fan of Herman Melville’s definitive classic. In the hands of this artist, the graphic novel proves a compelling vehicle for a retelling of one of the world’s greatest stories. In fact, it is one we can all get on board.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sud666

    How does someone take a massive tome like Moby Dick and then adapt it to comic graphic novel format? Witness "Moby Dick" by Chaboute. Instead of trying to emulate the prose of the classic book, Chaboute instead tells the story of Ishmael through his eyes. The comic doesn't just focus on the hunt for the whale- it delves into the life of a harpooner during these times. Ahab is wonderfully represented as a dark, brooding, obsessive captain that has no real feeling for his crew save that they get How does someone take a massive tome like Moby Dick and then adapt it to comic graphic novel format? Witness "Moby Dick" by Chaboute. Instead of trying to emulate the prose of the classic book, Chaboute instead tells the story of Ishmael through his eyes. The comic doesn't just focus on the hunt for the whale- it delves into the life of a harpooner during these times. Ahab is wonderfully represented as a dark, brooding, obsessive captain that has no real feeling for his crew save that they get the elusive White whale. This comic really is about a voyage. It's Ishmael's voyage and his adventures that we see. In this state-everyone and everything else is viewed through this prism. It works very well. The artwork is black and white. It works for this tale and the lettering style is also good for understanding the gravity of the words between characters. In short-it is always difficult to adapt a classic to GN format. Few do it well. I would add Mr. Chaboute to that list. Even if you are familiar with Moby Dick-this is a great way to be introduced to a classic that can often turn the average reader off with this ponderous style. The GN doesn't do that. A visual medium to describe the sensation of being a whaler is well transmitted through the words and art. Ahab is a great character and I appreciated the GN version of Ishmael as we see the world of whaling during the 1850's. So if you're a huge Moby Dick fan or someone who was curious what the fuss is about-this is an easy and wonderful way top be introduced to one of the great classics. Well done Mr. Chaboute!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    I have absolutely no desire to read the original Moby Dick, so I'm glad this comic exists. As a comic fan, I liked this quite a bit, but I have no idea how it stacks up to the original. From what I've seen in other reviews, this adaptation is more straightforward and focuses on the action/plot instead of the philosophical musings of the original. I'm okay with focusing on the action, but I do admit I wouldn't have been mad if this was written a little more densely. I think where the adaptation I have absolutely no desire to read the original Moby Dick, so I'm glad this comic exists. As a comic fan, I liked this quite a bit, but I have no idea how it stacks up to the original. From what I've seen in other reviews, this adaptation is more straightforward and focuses on the action/plot instead of the philosophical musings of the original. I'm okay with focusing on the action, but I do admit I wouldn't have been mad if this was written a little more densely. I think where the adaptation really works is how it handles depicting the ins and outs of whale fishing. From what I know of the novel, Melville goes into exhaustive detail about fishing and sea life - Chabouté does a really great job at illustrating this, eliminating the need for tedious prose. Chabouté's b&w is wonderfully expressive and stylistic enough that it captures Ahab's mad energy without being cartoony. The action scenes are also well-drawn and evoke excitement. The only thing about this work that gave me pause was the depiction of the Queequeg - a primitive tribesman who's also tattooed and a cannibal. I understand that he's a character from the original novel and that Chabouté wouldn't want to stray too far from Melville's characterization of him, but his characteristics are cliché (ie. his broken English) which put me off a bit (though it should be noted that *none* of the characters get a lot of development, due to the narrative being more focused on action). Overall, this was an enjoyable read and a nice digestible way to read Melville's intimidating classic. I look forward to reading more of Chabouté's work.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jakub Kvíz

    Since I haven't read Melville's novel I am not able to say if the adaptation is good or bad but I suppose that everyone somehow knows the story. Chabouté's graphic novel adaptation is fine and captures the atmosphere very well. Unfortunately, Dark Horse had a terrible idea to print it on glossy paper which completely ruins the charm of Chabouté's black & white art at it was bugging me all the time. If you want to read the story about the White Whale but can't be bothered to read the actual Since I haven't read Melville's novel I am not able to say if the adaptation is good or bad but I suppose that everyone somehow knows the story. Chabouté's graphic novel adaptation is fine and captures the atmosphere very well. Unfortunately, Dark Horse had a terrible idea to print it on glossy paper which completely ruins the charm of Chabouté's black & white art at it was bugging me all the time. If you want to read the story about the White Whale but can't be bothered to read the actual novel I am pretty sure you won't be let down. But if you want to explore the work of Chabouté, try something else (Alone would be my recommendation).

  8. 5 out of 5

    Rick

    Stunningly beautiful. Just stunning. Chaboute does a fantastic job adapting this Great American Novel. This is the best adaptation I've seen.

  9. 5 out of 5

    S. M. Metzler

    This was the epicest graphic novel I've yet read (actually, wait, it's the first graphic novel I've ever read, if you exempt manga and comics). I am already familiar with the story of Moby Dick, but never understood a lot of what was going on, so it was awesome to have many things cleared up. Full review coming soon once it's up on Constant Collectible!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Joshua

    What compels someone towards the White Whale? Why do people still read Moby Dick? And I ask his question genuinely after having read the original novel twice during the course of my life. I suspect on one level there are some who approach reading Moby Dick for Bragging rights, the chance to say they've done something many consider impossible or pointless. But I do believe with sincere conviction that for some, there is an idea in the passages of Moby Dick. There is some great message about What compels someone towards the White Whale? Why do people still read Moby Dick? And I ask his question genuinely after having read the original novel twice during the course of my life. I suspect on one level there are some who approach reading Moby Dick for Bragging rights, the chance to say they've done something many consider impossible or pointless. But I do believe with sincere conviction that for some, there is an idea in the passages of Moby Dick. There is some great message about humanity and our desire to overcome some overwhelming power outside of ourselves to find some sort of satisfaction, or redemption, or at least vengeance. Christophe Chaboute has done an amazing job with this graphic novel because rather than try to recreate the entirety of Moby Dick (We thankfully were spared the Cetology chapter) he instead tries to recreate the feeling and spirit of the novel Moby Dick creating a hauntingly beautiful narrative about one man's desperate longing, and another mad quest for redemptive vengeance. I would give this book to any fan of Melville's novel, and even to someone who had never read the book before. While not a fan of graphic novel transfers of classic works generally, they often are half-assed affairs designed only to spare grade-school kids the task of reading the original work, Chaboute's book is a real attempt at translation and recreation. The white whale maims and tortures those who pursue it, but there are some who manage to find salvation and return to tell the tale once more. And Chaboute has emerged floating on Queequeg's coffin ready to offer a new take on the epic.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Erin the Avid Reader ⚜BFF's with the Cheshire Cat⚜

    It is what it is. An abridged graphic novelization of Herman Melville’s classic Moby Dick which is a pretty difficult feat in its own right considering the novel is about 800 pages long and full of verbose descriptions and layered metaphor. I like the original novel quite a bit, so I went into this knowing the plot and the character’s motivations. I will say that overall Chaboute did a rather good job with both. There were a few chapters in the original novel that I felt were rather pointless, It is what it is. An abridged graphic novelization of Herman Melville’s classic Moby Dick which is a pretty difficult feat in its own right considering the novel is about 800 pages long and full of verbose descriptions and layered metaphor. I like the original novel quite a bit, so I went into this knowing the plot and the character’s motivations. I will say that overall Chaboute did a rather good job with both. There were a few chapters in the original novel that I felt were rather pointless, such as whole chapters that discusses the boring minutae of whale-hunting and the removal of the valued spermaceti. Here, we get a brief showing of whale spearing and the process behind extracting the wealth from the whale’s carcass, which I thought was a good idea on Chaboute’s part. I like the lurid black and white this was drawn in, but one of my gripes was the design of the characters. I thought most of looked the same and were difficult to differentiate from one another. Considering they all sounded the same and overall didn’t say much at all, the process of differentiating their personas was frustrating—unless it was a person of color like Queequeg or Tashtego. Overall, not bad at all. I certainly got enjoyment out of this one, and I appreciate the challenge people take when adapting monstrously long and complicated books such as this one. I recommend this to anyone who likes graphic novels and classics.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    This adaptation sticks to the source material in an odd way. You have some of the chapter titles along with a small quote from the book and then the key events in the chapter in illustrated form. That, even if it makes you happy with no experiments or liberties concerning the plot, lacks coherence and narrative flow. The illustration style is beautiful though, Chaboute plays exceptionaly with B/W techniques and the uses of shadows and lighting are superb.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tobias Langhoff

    The main focus of this adaptation is, perhaps unsurprisingly, Ahab's madness. The story's pacing is excellent, and really helps to show his monomaniacal nature, like how he wins over the crew and how Starbuck grows more and more disillusioned with the crazy old man. The omissions and changes from the source material all seem sensible and logically considered. The character of Pip, for example, is omitted, but an unnamed (and unseen, except for in silhouette) falls overboard at one point and is The main focus of this adaptation is, perhaps unsurprisingly, Ahab's madness. The story's pacing is excellent, and really helps to show his monomaniacal nature, like how he wins over the crew and how Starbuck grows more and more disillusioned with the crazy old man. The omissions and changes from the source material all seem sensible and logically considered. The character of Pip, for example, is omitted, but an unnamed (and unseen, except for in silhouette) falls overboard at one point and is seen no more. This was presumably a nod to Pip. His death is used to set up an important plot point: The crew throw out a buoy for him, but fail to retrieve him, and it's the loss of this buoy that prompts them to refurnish Queequeg's coffin canoe into a makeshift buoy. All in all, though, a lot of the plot remains intact (which cannot be said for Will Eisner's 32 page adaptation). The relationship between Ishmael and Queequeg gets the room it deserves. Many pages (although not as many as in the novel, perhaps just as well) are spent on presenting the whaling business, such as a long scene with no dialogue where the crew turns whale blubber into oil. The three gams with other whaling ships are also present, which help focus the story on Ahab's descent into madness. The art is fantastic. The stark black and white wood carving style drawings make it stand among the classical Moby-Dick illustrators like Rockwell Kent and Barry Moser (as well as the modern Evan Dahm), and many of the comic panels in this book could very well be singled out and put into a regular, illustrated version of the novel. I was also reminded of Mike Mignola. Shortly put, one of (if not the) best comic adaptations of a novel I've ever read. Great stuff.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Rod Brown

    I spent the entire summer after I graduated high school forcing myself to read the Moby Dick novel. It was a dreadful experience, and like the compulsive need to pick at a scab, I keep picking up the inevitable graphic novel adaptations that come out every five years or so to revisit the pain. I was hoping Chaboute would lean toward a mostly wordless adaptation like his The Park Bench GN, but he still included sentences that seem to come directly from the novel, and each time I came across one, I spent the entire summer after I graduated high school forcing myself to read the Moby Dick novel. It was a dreadful experience, and like the compulsive need to pick at a scab, I keep picking up the inevitable graphic novel adaptations that come out every five years or so to revisit the pain. I was hoping Chaboute would lean toward a mostly wordless adaptation like his The Park Bench GN, but he still included sentences that seem to come directly from the novel, and each time I came across one, I felt sickened. Chaboute probably does a decent adaptation, but I just cannot be impartial enough to judge that separate from the source material.

  15. 4 out of 5

    George K. Ilsley

    Have to agree with the publisher's foreword: this classic is more amenable to adaptation as a graphic novel than as a movie. Here text and drawings are both put to good use. A fascinating rendering of the classic novel that captures the essence of the obsession. Rereading an an accompaniment to a novel about the relationship between Melville and Hawthorne (“The Whale”).

  16. 4 out of 5

    Glenn

    Absolutely fantastic rendering of Moby Dick by French graphic artist Chabouté. I've been tempted to get this for some time based on the 8 pages or so I could read on Amazon but it's a pricey hardcover and it's always wrapped in plastic in stores. I just discovered Hoopla and was able to read it online for free. Wow. I think it's worth buying. Chabouté really nails it. The end is beautifully done.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Geoffrey

    Chabouté has very successfully taken a several hundred-page great American novel and condensed into graphic novel format, all while successfully retaining its core pieces. If one wants to read Herman Melville masterpiece's but is daunted by its size, length, and language, you can do surprisingly well by turning to this adaptation instead.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ian Ridewood

    A beautiful adaptation of the novel, centering on Ahab's obsessive and destructive quest for revenge, with amazing panelling and monochrome visuals. Now to staple some chapters about whales in the middle ...

  19. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    I really appreciated that this follows the actual story of the book, and not simply the well-known vengeance plot. Artwork is very well done, I especially loved the images of the boat from afar with dark backdrop.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Laura Fusaro

    This graphic novel is pure art! The black and white drawings are so well done and the dialogues so easy to follow that you grasp the plot and the characters’ psychology without any problems. I am so glad I found a great, alternative way to get familiar with the story of Captain Ahab and his crew. After starting Melville’s book without being able to go past page 10, I can now say that I read it If you are into comics, go for it! This graphic novel is pure art! The black and white drawings are so well done and the dialogues so easy to follow that you grasp the plot and the characters’ psychology without any problems. I am so glad I found a great, alternative way to get familiar with the story of Captain Ahab and his crew. After starting Melville’s book without being able to go past page 10, I can now say that I read it 🤗 If you are into comics, go for it!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie (aka WW)

    I cannot imagine a more successful graphic retelling of Moby Dick than this one. Chaboute’s bleak, jagged black-and-white illustrations are filled with detail and atmosphere. Several chapters barely have words, yet still convey all the grim meaning of the book. And, Ahab. Ahab actually feels much more menacing and alive in this book than in the original (which I just finished reading for the first time). This is a must read, for Moby Dick fans, for those who are curious, but haven’t been able to I cannot imagine a more successful graphic retelling of Moby Dick than this one. Chaboute’s bleak, jagged black-and-white illustrations are filled with detail and atmosphere. Several chapters barely have words, yet still convey all the grim meaning of the book. And, Ahab. Ahab actually feels much more menacing and alive in this book than in the original (which I just finished reading for the first time). This is a must read, for Moby Dick fans, for those who are curious, but haven’t been able to talk themselves into reading Moby Dick, and for graphic novel fans in general.

  22. 5 out of 5

    The_Mad_Swede

    I will begin this review with a confession: I have (as of yet) never read Melville's classic novel in full (though I have read snippets, as well as other texts by Melville). But having said that, I would also add that I have had encounters with the story itself via other adaptations, in film and comics. And any way one looks at it, Christophe Chabouté's version does stand out. In glorious black and white, and with an episodic structure that (in a manner of speaking) cherry-picks from Melville's I will begin this review with a confession: I have (as of yet) never read Melville's classic novel in full (though I have read snippets, as well as other texts by Melville). But having said that, I would also add that I have had encounters with the story itself via other adaptations, in film and comics. And any way one looks at it, Christophe Chabouté's version does stand out. In glorious black and white, and with an episodic structure that (in a manner of speaking) cherry-picks from Melville's novel, while allowing the narrative to breathe in a manner quite different from many other adaptations, and as such (to my understanding) mimicking the source text itself. Yes, this is Ishmael's story and Captain Ahab's obsession still permeates these pages to be sure; but Chabouté sees that this obsession is not the end-all and be-all of the text, despite its central significance.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Derek Royal

    A solid adaptation of the classic novel. I would have liked it better if it had retained more of Melville's philosophical musings -- for example, in the "Quarterdeck" section there is a conspicuous absence of Ahab's "pasteboard mask" speech, and existential horrors embedded in "The Whiteness of the Whale" are nowhere to be found -- but that would make this a much longer narrative. Still, I'm waiting for an adapter who will not only take on the action, but the philosophical adventures embedded in A solid adaptation of the classic novel. I would have liked it better if it had retained more of Melville's philosophical musings -- for example, in the "Quarterdeck" section there is a conspicuous absence of Ahab's "pasteboard mask" speech, and existential horrors embedded in "The Whiteness of the Whale" are nowhere to be found -- but that would make this a much longer narrative. Still, I'm waiting for an adapter who will not only take on the action, but the philosophical adventures embedded in Melville's original narrative.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Noelle

    Exquisite scrimshaw-like illustrations allowed this graphic novel adaptation to work well. Although it cannot span the entire length of the novel, this proved to be a very thorough adaptation of the classic in so much that the characters were well portrayed and Ahab's insane obsession over the white whale was captured quite well.

  25. 5 out of 5

    J

    Most graphic adaptations of novels work overtime to cram as much of the novel into the pages as possible, bogging down the sleek visual media with dense text boxes that are basically cut and paste jobs from a copy of the original. This is, obviously when you think about it, a terrible way to go about creating an adaptation. Instead you get a kind of illustrated classic, the worst of both worlds being both too literal and not literal enough. (A successful example of a wordy adaptation is Stéphane Most graphic adaptations of novels work overtime to cram as much of the novel into the pages as possible, bogging down the sleek visual media with dense text boxes that are basically cut and paste jobs from a copy of the original. This is, obviously when you think about it, a terrible way to go about creating an adaptation. Instead you get a kind of illustrated classic, the worst of both worlds being both too literal and not literal enough. (A successful example of a wordy adaptation is Stéphane Heuet's In Search of Lost Time: Swann's Way: A Graphic Novel, as the author's circuitous sentences are so internal that without them the story simply becomes a mushy doomed romance as seen by a kid outside of it.) Christophe Chaboute, who successfully pulled off the mostly wordless Alone, tackles the pinnacle of American novels here and does it justice, the first time I've read a graphic novel that could manage something this ambitious with success. Shorter, pulpier works are easy enough. Darwyn Cooke's Parker adaptations are frankly great (except for the final volume, Slayground, which tried for too much story compression). Horror comic adaptations practically cry out for the medium (like I Am Legend and loads of H.P. Lovecraft. Here Chabouté lets his evocative black and white images handle the emotional thrust of the story, keeping to dialogue and a scene change bit of text, like the title cards in a silent movie, and the effect is realized to near perfection. The men's faces, hard, then softening, during one of Ahab's mad rants when the sailors begin to realize he's mad. The sinister side eyes of Fedallah. The childish out-thrust of Ishmael's chin at the start when he's trying to prove his toughness, an almost annoying look that he loses subtly over the course of the art. Queequeg's unblinkingly harsh gaze. And Ahab's wild starting eyes and scarred face. Obviously some of the novel has to be jettisoned and Chabouté is judicious in his paring down, leaving a thick book but lean enough to keep the propulsive nature of Melville's adventure in constant motion. Best of all, the adaptation lit a hunger in me to return to this book, as I have time and again, because it is life in all its richness.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Oisin

    This is a magnificent adaptation of a, quite obviously, brilliant novel. This graphic novel already sets the scene with some superb cover art. The monstrous, unknown, menacing figure lurking in the deep fills you with foreboding long before the ship ever sets sail. I found the artwork to be wonderfully emotive and it created an almost melodic rhythm to the story, with drama, excitement and long lonely silence flowing together to give the experience of the arduous journey at sea. The pace of This is a magnificent adaptation of a, quite obviously, brilliant novel. This graphic novel already sets the scene with some superb cover art. The monstrous, unknown, menacing figure lurking in the deep fills you with foreboding long before the ship ever sets sail. I found the artwork to be wonderfully emotive and it created an almost melodic rhythm to the story, with drama, excitement and long lonely silence flowing together to give the experience of the arduous journey at sea. The pace of each peak and trough in and between the dramatic scenes was set to perfection allowing the reader time to contemplate events before the next charge to find the white fiend! Given the otherwise familiar story, the retelling here feels fresh and lends a new perspective on Melville's tale. The use of select extracts of texts to lay the scenes and tone worked a charm and the descent into madness of the captain unfolds beautifully. All round, I think that this is a very successful adaptation and well worth the time of any fan of the original and of the graphic novel format. For the uninitiated I also think this is an exciting and enthralling book to introduce them to one of the great pieces of literature.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    What a tasteful reminder of how fascinating and crazy the original novel is! With stark black-and-white panels and select dialogue, Chaboute conveys the passage of time, the growing sense of doom, and the black obsession of Ahab for the white whale. The chapters all begin with appropriate quotes from Melville’s text, such as “Drink and swear, ye men that man the deathful whaleboat’s bow - Death to Moby Dick! God hunt us all, if we do not hunt Moby Dick to his death!” for The Quarterdeck, the What a tasteful reminder of how fascinating and crazy the original novel is! With stark black-and-white panels and select dialogue, Chaboute conveys the passage of time, the growing sense of doom, and the black obsession of Ahab for the white whale. The chapters all begin with appropriate quotes from Melville’s text, such as “Drink and swear, ye men that man the deathful whaleboat’s bow - Death to Moby Dick! God hunt us all, if we do not hunt Moby Dick to his death!” for The Quarterdeck, the famous chapter any reader (or movie watcher) will remember in which Arab nails the doubloon to the mast. Or the chapter entitled The Musket when Starbuck contemplates killing the sleeping Ahab: “It would make him the willful murderer of thirty men and more, if this ship come to any deadly harm; and come to deadly harm, my soul swears this ship will, if Ahab have his way.” It’s been 40 years since I read the novel and this makes me want to embark again on that voyage knowing full well what a long and arduous trip it will be to set foot upon the deck of the Pequod.

  28. 5 out of 5

    DJL

    Here is yet another confession. The only version of Moby Dick that I have EVER been able to finish was the Great Illustrated Classics edition. I was in love with that book so much that I can't even remember how many times I re-read it on road trips as a youngster. Only Black Beauty was the other title in that collection that made as many road trips for obvious horse-lover reasons. Both in high school and college, I attempted to read the original unabridged edition... for my own entertainment. It Here is yet another confession. The only version of Moby Dick that I have EVER been able to finish was the Great Illustrated Classics edition. I was in love with that book so much that I can't even remember how many times I re-read it on road trips as a youngster. Only Black Beauty was the other title in that collection that made as many road trips for obvious horse-lover reasons. Both in high school and college, I attempted to read the original unabridged edition... for my own entertainment. It was never required reading in either setting for my English classes, but I wanted to try and read Melville's original work. I failed both times and have thus given up attempting. For now. Now, based on my experience with the version I have read and know, I believe Chabouté has captured the spirit of the story Melville penned. He establishes and builds the ominous atmosphere present in the story throughout the graphic novel culminating into the fateful clash between the obsessive Ahab and Moby Dick. The black inky drawings along the white pages are a stark contrast that really fits from starting with Ishmael's arrival in Nantucket to finishing with Ishmael on the coffin/life-buoy. The only drawback I see is that while the main characters (Ishmael, Queequeg, Starbuck, etc.) are all present, there doesn't seem as much interaction or development as was present even in the Great Illustrated Classic. (This hurt the most for Queequeg, a favorite of mine, though I liked how Chabouté depicted him here.) It's difficult to put an entire novel into graphic format, especially in a single volume, so I can understand cutting somewhat. But it felt odd because readers are hearing this story from Ishmael (I mean, all versions start off with "Call me Ishmael.") yet beyond the beginning and the end, he seems to merely fade into the background. I suppose Ahab's obsession must be placed in the foreground as that IS the story. It would have been good to see these familiar characters and hear their voices more than was present. Overall, I do recommend Chabouté's graphic rendition of Moby Dick, both for those who have finished and appreciate the original and for those who, like me, cannot finish the original for now.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Elle Kay

    A beautifully illustrated version of the classic tale of Moby Dick. While I enjoyed the art and the overall presentation of the story, I struggled to enjoy the story itself as I find Captain Ahab such a confrontational character and very much self-centered and oblivious to the lives around him, for whom he is 100% responsible for. Yes, I know it is all just a story but I know what I like and Ahab's character is definitely not it. It's a pity Moby Dick himself doesn't have a voice in the story as A beautifully illustrated version of the classic tale of Moby Dick. While I enjoyed the art and the overall presentation of the story, I struggled to enjoy the story itself as I find Captain Ahab such a confrontational character and very much self-centered and oblivious to the lives around him, for whom he is 100% responsible for. Yes, I know it is all just a story but I know what I like and Ahab's character is definitely not it. It's a pity Moby Dick himself doesn't have a voice in the story as I suspect his motivation and thoughts would be very interesting. So, I give this 2.5 stars for the art and declare myself not a huge fan of this classic.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Manish

    I read Melville’s Moby Dick a couple of years ago and the vividness of the work still lingers. Hence, any work around the great novel was always going to be tempting to savour. I picked up Chaboute’s graphic retelling of this in ths spirit. While the drawings in stark black and white images were well executed, the limited pages of the work failed to bring out the obsessive suicidal aspect of Ahab or the umpteen detailed on-board tasks and activities of the men onboard the Pequod. This was I read Melville’s Moby Dick a couple of years ago and the vividness of the work still lingers. Hence, any work around the great novel was always going to be tempting to savour. I picked up Chaboute’s graphic retelling of this in ths spirit. While the drawings in stark black and white images were well executed, the limited pages of the work failed to bring out the obsessive suicidal aspect of Ahab or the umpteen detailed on-board tasks and activities of the men onboard the Pequod. This was anyways understandable considering that the original work spanned around 500 pages!

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