Sunday, April 26, 2015

Gregor Brown and Cthulu Seuss

What happens when a graphic adapter chooses to emulate -- nay, to inhabit -- the precise style of another artist? One may well ask, what kind of element is style, either in writing or in art, or music? Does using someone else's necessarily compromise one's work? In music, as we've recently seen, there are quite a few "blurred lines," between the style of one artist and that of another -- is imitation a compliment? or a copyright violation? Bear in mind that, technically speaking, copyright protects only the work itself, not its subject, its style, or even its title (titles are specifically excluded from copyright protection). It gets even trickier, of course, when the artist being imitated is dead.

In that light, what do we make of Franz Kafka meeting Charlie Brown in "Good ol' Gregor Brown," or of seeing H.P. Lovecraft's "Call of Cthulu" drawn as though illustrated by Dr. Seuss? Do we feel betrayed? Amused? Confused? And, as iconic artists whose work is so central to many of our childhoods, how might the late Charles Schultz or Ted Geisel feel if they had lived to see these works? And how do either of them compare with the numerous new graphical interpretations of the classics that, whatever their merits or lack thereof, did not lean so heavily on the style of another?

15 comments:

  1. I would say these adaptations confused me more than anything else. When reading them, I kept imagining the original creations. The stories were totally different than anything the original creators would have written but the drawing style was basically the same. It made me think of a more mature version of the normal stories. For example, Dr. Seuss books are normally given to children because they are entertaining, easy to read, and teach a lesson. "Call of Cthulu" is harder to read, longer, and a lot more difficult to understand, which makes it aim more towards adults. Since the writing was more mature, the illustrations had to reflect that as well. This story had many creepy looking monsters that would be unsuitable for the eyes of some children, in fear of scaring them. It is definitely not something that would have been drawn by Dr. Seuss. This is what confused me most. I kept thinking this was by Dr. Seuss, even though it was so different. I feel this makes the author of the writings disappear because we are all so accustomed to seeing this style of drawing and equating it to another creator.

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  2. Franz Kafka’s “Good ol’ Gregor Brown” like H.P. Lovecraft’s “Call of Cthulu” came across as being very familiar. It was only the case because of the imitated style of artwork. When reading Kafka’s adaptation it was very confusing for myself because I couldn't wrap my mind around the fact that it wasn’t actually Charlie Brown, but Gregor. I kept to an allusion that the last frame would be of actual Charlie Brown waking up from a bad dream. If Kafka hadn't used so many of the familiar characters from the comic strip, then perhaps I could’ve looked at the piece in a different way. There was just too much of a similarity (text, style, characters, etc…). This particular adaptation, as a result of the imitation, lacked originality and any defining characteristics that could’ve been attributed to the artist. As for Lovecraft’s adaptation, I was able to see the piece as a separate entity away from Seuss. Yes, the artwork and tempo were similar, but because the artist didn’t completely copy any of the known Seuss characters it came across as a more original piece than Kafka’s. I was able to appreciate the imitated style while simultaneously acknowledging the fact that this wouldn’t be a piece by Seuss. The tempo was similar, but the actual text told my mind that this was something different. I think the use of Seuss’s style added to the adaptation because of the story itself. The story had a type of flare that and child-like message to it, so the style and story blended well together. Depicting the Cthulu like a Seuss character brought a less severe depiction of it. I couldn’t image it being presented by using realism. Kafka’s piece didn't succeed at this because the adaptor used a comic based upon children and transformed it into a message about adults. Linus as an agent? It just doesn't fit.

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  3. When I read Dr. Seuss, it reminds me of my childhood. His books have had a large impact on the world and the children who have read them. They teach both technical and moral lessons to growing children. Dr. Seuss's style can be recognized by just about anyone who has ever read a book. It is iconic and loved by many. To me, something this important in society should not be toyed with. It is safe to say that because I feel this way, I do not like H.P. Lovecraft's "call of Cthulu." However, I do think that he did a very good job imitating Dr. Seuss's style. It looks identical and could probably be mistaken as a work of Dr. Seuss. The rhyming rhythm was similar but the text and the message being put forth could not be more different.

    Lovecraft attempted to put his own twist on Seuss's style by making up his own characters and own lines. Kafka did not try to do this as much. He used the same characters from "the Peanuts" like Charlie Brown and Linus. Linus looks exactly the same, and cockroach is wearing Charlie Brown's iconic yellow shirt with the black zig zag. He even uses the phrase "good grief."

    I think it is really hard to take something that is recognized so widely as popular and try to make it your own. I am not too sure why someone would want to do this anyway. Why take someone else's style when you can make your own?

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  4. Some say copying or imitating is a form of flattery. However, to some it may seem like an easy way out,or a lack of individuality. Many people oppose the idea of collaborating different styles because it may come off as a bit confusing. I however disagree. I feel that in a way, adding well known author's touches to a piece can add charm, as well as a bit of appreciation.
    In order to understand a literary piece to its fullest, the reader must be open to all considerations.
    I was amused by Gregor Brown. I thought it was very comical and creative. The change in word play of the main character gave the piece its own identity while still linking it to Charlie Brown. I did not get the impression that this rendering was completely identical, but rather a story of a an odd scenario. I feel that the artist did a good job in regards to linking the stories together and incorporating the members of the Peanut Gallery. When referring to Charlie Brown, obviously some copying needs to be taken into consideration, or else the reader may not understand the link.
    'Call of Cthulhu' on the other hand, seemed more like copying in my opinion. I honestly thought this was a piece done my Dr. Seuss himself, simply due to the typography in the cover page, as well as the particular style, format, and character expressions.

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  5. I find it a very interesting choice to use these pop culture icons mixed with these specific stories. It brings a nostalgia factor but it also brings a "ruined childhood feel." While Call of Cthulu is creepy and weird because it is a combination of Seuss and Lovecraft, Good Ol' Gregor Brown is scary accurate to Shulz's illustrations of The Peanuts. I love the accuracy of the word play in the Lovecraft adaption, especially with some of the rhyming words, but the font of Good Ol' Gregor Brown makes the comic strip more believable.
    another scary thing is the fact that both are very believable. If you didn't know these were merely adaptations within adaptions then your views of both Seuss and Shulz could change. There is the friendly Charlie Brown and the comical Peanuts in a very morbid situation, then there is the Call of Cthulu with the art of comical characters such as Cat in the hat or the lorax. It can be very confusing, but above all, a mutual feeling between the two adaptions is "Creepy"

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  6. "ruined childhood feel" -- I quite like the sound of that!

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  7. As discussed in class Intellectual Property is such a new field, it births potential problems within problems. I think as the the field evolves, drawings/art will be the hardest to confirm stealing intellectual property. I do think H.P. Lovecraft's "Call of Cthulu" was drawn similar to the work of Dr. Seuss and in fact was an example of stealing the likeliness of Dr. Seuess to illustrate a story. I do feel the same way with Charlie Brown elements in "Good ol' Gregor Brown," as well.
    Disclaimer: I recently took mass media law and not knowing anything about Intellectual Property before, I think students/more people should take it more seriously. It may seem ridiculous to some, but IP is something to take seriously, especially with the use of internet.


    Nathan Silva

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  8. Both stories just brought back memories of my childhood and i remember always reading about it. I love the pictures in the stories because you don't actually see stories like that anymore or pictures in a book like that. Its represented my childhood in a way and made me think about how much has changed over time. I enjoyed Dr. Seuss story and Good ol’ Gregor Brown the most. - Brandon Men

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  9. While I do love the fact that inside the literature world a lot of authors can play off one another words and ideas, and be able to create something new and exciting on their own, I think that these adaptations are taken a little to far, some might even call them plagiarizing. The ideas of the adaptations were kind of out there and twisted, although unique the illustrations closely resembled that of the originals, so to me it was just really confusing. I am a big fan of Charlie Browns comics as well as the movies, but to me this adaptation was just creepy.

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  10. No matter where we are in the world there will always be some form of imitation from different artists. It is simply a result of the times. What is popular is usually recreated and altered just a bit from the last artist so they can pass it off as there own. In some ways, H.P. Lovecraft's "Call of Cthulu" and Franz Kafka's "Good ol' Gregor Brown" are perfect examples of this. While I think that both adaptations were drawn to remind us of a past time, i think that both of the missed the mark. I found "Good ol' Gregor Brown" and "Call of Cthulu" both off to me. They seemed rather odd and creepy. Maybe it is just because i am used to traditional Dr. Seuss illustrations and seeing someone try to create it made me upset. I am amused at the fact that they tried to recreate something that was so popular that people may get offended by. I personally, was not offended by the illustrations i was just offended that people think that anybody can live up to Dr. Seuss. In reality, Dr. Seuss has always been a huge part of my childhood so I think that's why i don't think anybody could live up to him.

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  11. Franz Kafka's adaption of "The Metamorphosis" Good Ol Gregor Brown was a bit strange to me. While I understand the whole comic feel, the way it was interpreted threw me off. I love the original Charlie Brown, and this to me was just weird. I don't think it was more or less plagiarizing the original, but some of the aspects definitely were the same, because you need to have some of the main story or else the reader wont understand it. H.P Lovecrafts " Call of Cthulu" was too similar to Dr. Seuss. If you didnt know it was an adaptation, it would be as if Suess did the illustrating. I was not really a fan of either adaptations.

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  12. I have always liked comics in any shape or form, these stories reminded me of when I was younger. I found the metamorphosis to be very amusing, and liked the art style it had. I think personally if you were to have a story such as this one without illustrations it probably would not even make it to the shelves. Stories like this one and most comics are worshiped because of their art, so much so that there is anime conventions and comic-cons. Another wonderful thing about comics like this one are that the characters never get old that means we can have comics basically forever. Overall I thought it was a great story and a perfect way to end the class.
    Bryant Ayala

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  13. Corey Carvalho

    I would not necessarily say I feel betrayed or confused. While these adaptations do have a familiar feeling to them, I can't say I feel any negativity toward either of them. I found it rather amusing that the adaptations looked so childish and so Dr. Seuss like. I am not one to feel offended easily. This is not to say that I don't believe intellectual property is not important, I just do not know enough about it, and have not studied enough about it to have a grounded opinion.
    I did enjoy both adaptations, not because of their familiarity. I enjoyed them independent of the fact that they stole the style of classic authors.

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  14. Despite some of the common themes between The Metamorphosis and Charlie Brown, Sikoyak’s fusion of the two works loses much in translation. When left to stand on its own, “Good ol’ Gregor Brown” does not convey some of the most important messages of Kafka’s original work. Charlie Brown and Gregor Samsa possess many similarities in terms of character. They are both nervous and lack self-confidence, which makes one character an acceptable substitute for the other. However, by doing this I think we lose important elements of each story and do not really gain anything in return. In Sikoryak’s adaptation the use of the characters of Charlie Brown might incite a laugh from the reader, but it lacks the depth that both of these works possess when they are in their original form. In Sikoryak’s adaptation, we do not learn how hard Gregor works to support his family or that his death causes his family to learn to do things for themselves. Using Charlie Brown to tell the story of Gregor Samsa may add humor to the story, but this is not what Kafka originally intended. Each of these works became famous and beloved for their original versions and therefore I believe the fusion of them is unnecessary.

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  15. Reading Good Old Gregor Brown I can't help but feel I am missing a lot of information> Information that I am expected to know in order to understand what is going on in this adaptation. I feel l-like this combination does not offer anything to someone who has not read the original text. It leaves me confused and annoyed that I can not follow what is going on.

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