Seymour Chwast’s Adaptation of Dante’s Divine Comedy (2010)

seymour-chwast-adaptation-of-dantes-divine-comedy-2010“‘I, Dante, will tell you the story of my trip to the after world… but will I come back?’ So begins Seymour Chwast’s noirish graphic adaptation of what is perhaps the world’s most famous tale of spiritual tourism, the Divine Comedy. The list of artists who have tried their hand at visually interpreting Dante’s epic is both long and distinguished, but it would be safe to say that Chwast, a co-founder of Push Pin Studios and a longtime contributor to The New Yorker, may have had the most fun with the subject since Dante himself. . .
The book is more than an original take on Dante, though. It also represents Chwast’s fresh take on the graphic novel. Chwast eschews the expected rhythm of comic panels in favor of stunning drawings that leap and tumble all over the page. One of my favorite moments is a glorious two-page spread depicting the Emperor Justinian and a chorus line of flappers and vaudeville performers as they dance a welcome to Dante (and us) across a divine expanse. Justinian, of course, is dressed to the heavenly nines in a nineteen-thirties-style pinstripe suit, vest, and bow tie, and is sporting what one can only assume is his trademark pencil mustache.”    –Jordan Awan, The New Yorker, November 15, 2010

Ty Templeton, “Stig’s Inferno” (1980s)

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This 1980s series ran for 8 volumes and was loosely based on Dante’s Inferno. See the full book at Templetons.

Gary Panter, Jimbo’s Inferno (2006)

gary-panter-jimbos-inferno-2006“Panter is a legend of independent comics; considered the father of punk comics, he has influenced many, including Matt Groening, and warped the look of children’s television with his sets for Pee Wee’s Playhouse. Jimbo’s Inferno is the prequel to his critically acclaimed Jimbo in Purgatory, which came out in 2004. Inferno originally appeared as part of a short-lived line of art comics published by Groening, but here it’s been reformatted to the terrifyingly deluxe oversized standards of Purgatory. Like that volume, this follows the outlines of Dante’s Divine Comedy, but combines and conflates specific events, looking at them all with a satiric rock and roll flair. The erstwhile hero, Jimbo, guided by the boxlike Valise, travels into Focky Bocky, a subterranean mall that spirals downwards, containing a modern vision of hell. The art is a Boschian mishmash of grotesque and comic, all in Panter’s signature proto-punk style. The dialogue borrows as much from Dante as from Lewis Carroll and Frank Zappa. Together, it is a dizzying re-envisioning of Dante. Perhaps because of its earlier format, it lacks the intricate polish that made Jimbo in Purgatory a groundbreaking comic, but as a rough sketch of twisted genius, it still amazes. (Apr.)”    –Publishers Weekly, Amazon