Réal Godbout

Translated by Helge Dascher
Graphic Novel / Literary
ISBN 1-894994-81-7
7.5×10 inches, 184 pages, b/w
trade paperback, $20

May 2014

Based on the novel by Franz Kafka


In his adaptation of Amerika, which took seven years to achieve, Godbout has tried to remain as faithful as possible to Kafka’s novel, while using the clear line aesthetic he perfected in his series Red Ketchup. Unlike the common cliché of Kafka’s work, Amerika is not a dark and sinister novel, but a dynamic and colourful story, with a touch of absurdist humor. Perfect for an adaptation into a graphic novel. It tells the story of the young immigrant Karl Rossmann who, after an embarrassing sexual misadventure, finds himself “packed off to America” by his parents. Expected to redeem himself in this magical land of opportunity, young Karl is swept up instead in a whirlwind of dizzying reversals, strange escapades, and picaresque adventures. Despite the fact that Kafka never set foot in America, his novel was uncannily prescient about certain aspects of the country that advertised itself, particularly during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as “the promised land.” Godbout provides a unique perspective, as a quebecois artist and outsider to America.

Montreal native Réal Godbout was at the forefront of the rebirth of the graphic novel in Quebec in the 1970s. He’s widely known as the illustrator and co-creator (with Pierre Fournier) of the cult series Michel Risque and Red Ketchup, originally published in the satirical magazine Croc (1979–95). Godbout also works as an illustrator, and created a series of educational comic strips for Les Débrouillards magazine. Since 1999 he has taught comic art in the fine arts program at the Université du Québec en Outaouais. He was inducted to the Canadian Comics Hall of Fame in 2009. Amerika is his first work in English.

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