Reviews for Jungle
Booklist Reviews 2004 November #2
The biographical sketch at the end of Kuper's visualization of the most famous muckraking novel says that it was intended not as an expose of the meatpacking industry but as a pitch for socialism. Kuper and coadapter Russell restore Sinclair's original intent by concentrating on the odyssey, from green Lithuanian immigrant to horribly saddened but finally wiser nascent Socialist Party member, of the book's protagonist, Jurgis Rudkus. It is a story of the highest possible pathos. Jurgis is a working-class Job and worse, for he loses almost everyone he loves to the grinding jaws of industrial capitalism (the coup de grace comes when his dead wife's little brother is eaten by rats) and becomes a strikebreaker and ward heeler before he absolutely bottoms out. Grimmer than Dickens' books, Sinclair's agitprop classic seems tailor-made for Kuper's spectacular color artwork, in which Chagall's buoyant Old World fantasias meet the intense expressionism of Munch and, above all, the cubist-derived constructivism of early Soviet poster art, with a smidgen or two of 1920s German cinema in the compositions. Magnificent. ((Reviewed November 15, 2004)) Copyright 2004 Booklist Reviews.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2004 December #2
Originally published in 1991 as part of a short-lived revival of the Classics Illustrated line, this adaptation of Sinclair's muckraking socialist novel succeeds because of its powerful images. When Kuper initially drew it, he was already a well-known left-wing comics artist. His unenviable task is condensing a 400-page novel into a mere 48 pages, and, inevitably, much of the narrative drama is lost. Kuper replaces it, however, with unmatched pictorial drama. The story follows Lithuanian immigrant Jurgis Rudkis and his family as they are eaten up and spit out by capitalism (represented by Chicago's packing houses). Kuper uses an innovative full-color stencil technique with the immediacy of graffiti to give Sinclair's story new life. When Jurgis is jailed for beating the rich rapist Connor, a series of panels suffused with a dull, red glow draw readers closer and closer to Jurgis's face, until they see that the glint in his eye is fire. Jurgis, briefly prosperous as a strong-arm man for the Democratic machine, smokes a cigar; the smoke forms an image of his dead son and evicted family. Perhaps most visually dazzling is the cubist riot as strikers battle police amid escaping cattle. Kuper infuses this 1906 novel with the energy of 1980s-era street art and with his own profoundly original graphic innovation, making it a classic in its own right. (Nov.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
VOYA Reviews 2005 February
In this arresting and visually stunning graphic novel, artist Kuper adapts Sinclair's hugely influential novel set in the stockyards of Chicago. Young Lithuanian immigrant Jurgis Rudkus has come to America with his family in search of prosperity. Instead the Rudkus family is taken advantage of by a corrupt system that exploits workers. After the loss of several jobs, prison stays, and the death of his wife and son, Jurgis falls victim to despair and drink, until he finds hope and purpose in the union movement Kuper does an outstanding job of fitting Sinclair's dense novel into a slim and cogent graphic format. As a matter of necessity, some characters from the original text are removed here, and others are given a less prominent role, but the basic plot outline and the spirit of the book remain the same. Kuper's artwork, angular and vividly colored, does an exceptional job of bringing to life turn-of-the-century stockyards and tenements. Although this graphic novel would appeal to fans of historical fiction as well as those interested in the labor movement, getting them to read it could be a problem. Neither Sinclair nor Kuper are big draws, but those teens who can be persuaded to pick up this volume will be richly rewarded.-Meredith Jenson-Benjamin 4Q 2P S A/YA G Copyright 2005 Voya Reviews.