Other Forms of Adaptation – “The Boat” by Nam Le (Recommend Watch/Read)

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Source: https://medium.com/dst-3880w-spring-2019-section-2/formal-analysis-of-the-boat-5ba222b8f0bf

By: Peggy Sue Wood | @pswediting

LINK: http://www.sbs.com.au/theboat/ 

In one of the classes I’ve taken for part of my animation certification program, we were asked to look at different forms of adapting stories to visual mediums. Comics are an obvious example, as are games and movies. The point is, there are several ways to adapt to a graphic medium. 

One thing I like about Webtoons, for example, is the introduction of music play to chapters. Tapas, as another example, allows for moving visuals (like gifs). 

While reviewing other forms of adaptation for an assignment, I learned about SBS’s adaptation of the short story in Nam Le’s anthology, The Boat. It’s SBS’s first interactive graphic novel and is completely free to view online. 

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Source: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0018ZDAUS/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

In a short run-through, you can probably race through in about 20 minutes, but can also spend several hours reading the different pages and interacting with materials. 

You have the movement of a slow scroll with musical elements and partial comic visuals that help to enlighten the overall feel of the text. I was reminded of some of my favorite games as a child which relied on these sorts of movement-focused play, although this was more of a story than the games I’m thinking of right now. My favorite element was probably the addition of singing by the character(s), which is paired with leaves moving in a way that implies wind. The times that this happens are also when the characters are trapped beneath the decks of the ship, implying that the music is an escape from the emotional terror of events and an escape from the trapped feeling of the crowded holdings.  

It is truly a masterful approach to adapting such emotional stories to a 2D visual medium. While I still enjoy being able to simply watch such stories, the interactivity of this is something I recommend as a unique learning experience. 

To learn more, I also recommend reading SBS’s dive into the creation of the adaptation. In the link below, you can find classroom material for teaching the story, but also interview clips with the artist who talks about making this adaptation, character development, and more. 

https://www.sbs.com.au/programs/go-back-to-where-you-came-from/article/2015/07/14/boat 

I hope you enjoy it as much as I have! 

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