Famous Antarctic book comes as a graphic novel | Polarjournal
The author of the book “The Worst Journey in the World), Apsley Cherry-Garrard (1886 – 1959), processes in it his partly traumatic experiences of the Scott expedition of 1910 – 1913. Sarah Airriess (right), illustrator, is now turning the book into a graphic novel series after hearing the story as a radio drama. Images: Herbert Ponting / Sarah Airriess

In the golden era of Antarctic exploration, it was common to publish in books the experiences made during expeditions to this unknown wilderness. Mostly it was financial reasons why Shackleton and others had written books. But in the case of one of the most famous books, namely The Worst Journey in the World, the reasons were different. And it is precisely this book that will now be published in a new, modern way.

Scott’s “Terra Nova” expedition, which took place between 1910 and 1913 and culminated in the death of Captain Robert Falcon Scott and his companions on their way back from the South Pole, provides ample material for books, films, paintings, and drawings. Much of this has also already been implemented. All the books written by the survivors of the expedition and the pictures taken especially by expedition photographer Herbert Ponting serve as a basis. But illustrator and author Sarah Airriess takes a different approach to her work. She will publish Apsley Cherry-Garrard’s book The Worst Journey in the World in a graphic novel series. The prologue is downloadable for free (donations appreciated) and the first part of the series is scheduled for release on November 24. A German edition is already planned for next spring.

Sarah Airriess is not a historian, a scholar, or a book author. The Canadian is a animation illustrator who worked successfully at Disney Studios for a number of years and was involved in projects such as Winnie the Pooh and the Oscar-winning animated film Kiss the Frog. This is also evident in the implementation of Cherry-Garrard’s book. For the style is indeed reminiscent of a Disney film. But instead of singing animals and gaudy backgrounds, the graphic novel fascinates with beautiful and colors and an enormous attention to detail in the pictures. The artist does not simply reflect the story of the expedition, but really brings it to life.

In the video, Sarah Airries explains what prompted her to turn Cherry-Garrard’s book into a graphic novel (in English). Video Tealin – Sarah Airriess

To that end, she, like Cherry-Garrard and his expedition companions, left her old life in Los Angeles behind and moved to Cambridge, England, to study extensively about the expedition and its details at the Scott Polar Institute. She also made a trip to the Ross Sea and was able to take a very close look at living conditions at Cape Evans, where Scott and his men had their base. “I do definitely understand better what they went through when I’m standing right in that hut” she explained in an interview. Inspired by a BBC radio play about the book, her work aims to give a deep insight into the story of the expedition from Apsley Cherry-Garrard’s point of view, while also taking a closer look at the science that had made up a large part of the “Terra Nova” expedition. Moreover, on her Patreon page Sarah Airriess not only presents her work, but also lets the visitor dive deep into the history of the expedition, presents the people featured in the book with their life stories, summarizes the expedition historically and garnishes it all with her unique pictures.

Sarah Airriess’ graphic novel, with its colorful and beautiful images, does contrast somewhat with the tone of the book. Apsley Cherry-Garrard had written it later under the impressions of the expedition, when he had already suffered from severe depression and post-traumatic stress syndrome. These and some severe physical damages he had suffered with great probability in the course of the “Terra Nova” expedition. In particular, the deaths of two close friends, Henry Bowers and Edward Wilson, on their way back from the South Pole, and the fact that he had discovered them, must have weighed heavily on his mind. However, in the opinion of many experts, his descriptions of the expedition are among the best and also the most unsparing from the era of the “Heroic Age”.

The pictures of the Canadian artist seem almost too beautiful at first glance, for example beautiful hand-drawn penguins standing on the ice in the soft light of the low-lying sun. However, the level of detail in the images, including the facial expressions of the characters as they go about their activities and the situations they find themselves in, gets to the heart of the characters’ traits.

The Worst Journey in the World is considered a classic of polar literature. And Sarah Airriess’ graphic novel really does credit to the book and its author more than 100 years after its publication.

Dr Michael Wenger, PolarJournal

Pre-orders for part 1 of the series here

To the website of Sarah Airriess

Featured image: (C) courtesy of Sarah Airriess

More on the topic

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
error: Content is protected !!
Share This