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