Graphic Novel Adaptation of “The Lottery” Now Available for Order

Shirley Jackson's The Lottery: A Graphic Adaptation

Hill and Wang will be releasing a graphic novel adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s famous short story “The Lottery” in late October.

The tale, in case you didn’t read it in school, is a simple piece about a small farm community executing a yearly ritual involving all the families. It’s not until far into it that you realize it’s really a horror story about conformity, tradition, and the unwillingness to question “how things have always been done”. Reportedly, the author was shocked by the hate mail she received after its initial publication in The New Yorker in 1948, another element that has strange echoes in today’s world.

This graphic novel has been adapted and illustrated by Miles Hyman (The Black Dahlia), who in addition to providing the art for several French graphic novels, is also Jackson’s grandson. He includes a preface about his famous grandmother, her life, and family memories.

Shirley Jackson's The Lottery: A Graphic Adaptation

Hyman’s style is suitably old-fashioned, with plenty of shadows throughout, lending a spooky, overcast feeling to the down-home community. It’s evocative of a woodcut. Turning a short story into a 140-page graphic novel is a good choice, as it allows the piece to breathe, with plenty of establishing images, often wordless, to build the idea of a community of regular folks. Most of the story, until the drawing begins, is told through captions or silent images, adding up to a creeping feeling of dread. It’s the horror of the mundane, of what seemingly normal people will do without questioning.

It’s interesting to note that the lottery ritual isn’t questioned by a particular family until it affects them. That’s human nature, of course, to only care about what’s a problem for you, but it also smacks of selfishness. For a protest to work, those not yet affected have to agree that it’s a bad idea, and it can be hard to get people to empathize or realize.

Libraries and similar customers will want to know that there are several nude panels of one of the wives, likely placing this book out of the younger education market. I found that element unnecessary but explainable by the European history of the author.

The book is available in either paperback (list price $16) or hardcover ($30) and can be preordered from your local comic shop with Diamond codes AUG16 1700 or AUG16 1701, respectively. You can find out more about the project on its Facebook page. (The publisher provided a review copy.)

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