A picture may be worth a thousand words, but sometimes seeing a work performed live can be an incredibly powerful experience, too. In honor of the Broadway run of Fun Home, based on the graphic memoir of the same name by Alison Bechdel, we’ve rounded up five other graphic memoirs we wish would be adapted into plays. Whether you’re well-versed in graphic memoirs or totally new to the genre, these picks are masterpieces with charm and narrative pizzazz to spare.
It’s conventional wisdom that there can be a very fine line between creative and crazy. Ellen Forney knows this, and grapples with this distinction in the wake of her diagnosis with bipolar disorder in her late twenties. Forney’s quest to understand herself better is both funny and sad, and will leave the reader with a more nuanced historical perspective of the relationships between mental illness and the artists who have battled it. We think Forney’s black-and-white cartoons would come to life in an entirely new way on the stage.
Every family has a story. For GB Tran, that story has to do with his parents’ flight from Vietnam during the fall of Saigon. GB was born in South Carolina, but his parents’ past has continued to shape his life even from the other side of the world. In this stunning and intricate memoir, GB grapples with his family’s difficult history and the stories that bind them together. We can only imagine how the visually striking text would translate to the theater, and how powerful GB Tran’s words would be when spoken aloud.
If you haven’t been reading Allie Brosh’s Hyperbole and a Half blog, then you have been missing out, big time. Read this book: You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll want to go out and get a dog if you don’t already have one. If you’re a twenty-something in the midst of an existential crisis, you’re particularly likely to fall hard for Brosh. Despite this the fact that this makes an excellent book, we would LOVE to see it onstage, and not just because it would require some dog-actors. Allie Brosh, if you’re reading this, make our wish come true? We would like it Alot.
Aging is unavoidable. No one knows this better than Roz Chast, the beloved New Yorker cartoonist who chronicles her parents’ precipitously declining health and eventual death in this darkly funny volume. Chast normalizes a lot of the complicated feelings people have about their parents getting older, and manages to encourage the reader to laugh in an otherwise harrowing situation. We think a Broadway adaptation of this book could go a long way in helping us all deal with a very sad and inevitable part of growing older.
David Small didn’t know he had cancer. All he knew was that when he woke up from surgery, he couldn’t speak, and his throat had been gruesomely cut and sewn back together. His father had attempted to treat David’s respiratory illness with radiation, which likely caused the cancer to begin with. This is a dark family drama about repression, a medical thriller, and a coming of age tale all rolled into one. It’s great on the page, but we can only imagine how riveting this gripping story would be on the stage.