Calamos Supports Greece
GreekReporter.comGreek NewsCultureStory of Zorba the Greek Retold in Comics Illustrations

Story of Zorba the Greek Retold in Comics Illustrations

Zorba the Greek comic book illustration.
Zorba the Greek comics illustration. Credit: Antonis Nikolopoulos (Soloup) / Dioptra publications

Zorba the Greek, the world-famous novel by celebrated Greek author Nikos Kazantzakis, has been published in comics illustrations for the first time by Athens-based publisher Dioptra.

Titled “Zorba, beautiful green stone,” a nod to one of the novel’s most emblematic phrases, the new book was presented to the public at a special launch event hosted at the Benaki Museum in Athens on November 13, 2023.

The graphic novel is signed by acclaimed Greek caricaturist Antonis Nikolopoulos, also known by his nom-de-plume, Soloup. Speaking at the launch, Soloup told attendees how challenging it has been to change the form of an original “work of art” and create a graphic novel out of an iconic piece of literature.

Soloup’s comics illustrations for the book have maintained the original texts and the exact language used by Kazantzakis in Zorba the Greek.

Greek caricaturist Antonis Nikolopoulos (Soloup)
Greek caricaturist Antonis Nikolopoulos (Soloup) retells the story of Zorba the Greek in a graphic novel. Credit: Dioptra publications

Zorba the Greek’s charm over international audiences

Zorba the Greek was first published in 1946 under the original title Life and Times of Alexis Zorbas, but the story became an international sensation seven years after Kazantzakis’ passing, thanks to its cinematic adaptation by Michael Cacoyiannis. It starred Anthony Quinn in the role of Alexis Zorba.

The accompanying music by Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis and its choreography made the Greek syrtaki folkdance equally famous on the international scene. It became known as Zorba’s dance, otherwise also known as the Zorba or “the dance of Zorba.”

Cacoyiannis’ film won three Academy Awards that year, but the story of Zorba remained so captivating for international audiences that, besides the original novel being translated in numerous languages around the world, it continued to be retold in various versions over the years.

Hence, Zorba the Greek was adapted into a Broadway musical in 1968, a German-language telemovie in 1972, a ballet by Theodorakis in Italy in 1987 to 1988, and a two-part radio play by the BBC in 1993.

A new storytelling approach for the modern reader

Dioptra’s comics adaptation, published in the original Greek language as it was used by the author, is the latest novel way to tell Kazantzakis’s story of Alexis Zorba to the world.

Caricaturist Soloup does not make a simple metaphor but attempts to retell the episodes of Kazantzakis’ original novel, written in 1946, the book’s description observes.

According to the description, “He intervenes in the flow, rearranges the bombastic stories while at the same time trying to avoid the strong stereotypes of the cinematic Zorba. Thus, following the spirit of the Kazantzakis text, he proposes a new narrative of word and image, a new journey, philosophical, grotesque, tragic, to the modern reader.”

Book signing of Zorbas graphic novel by Soloup.
Book signing of the Zorbas graphic novel by Soloup. Credit: Dioptra publications

“Zorba, beautiful green stone” is part of Dioptra’s vision for carrying Nikos Kazantzakis’ work into the twenty-first century.

In 2022, the publishing house signed a comprehensive publishing rights deal with Kazantzakis’ inheritor, Niki Stavrou, who is the copyright owner of the author’s works and director of Kazantzakis Publications.

A few months later, Dioptra published the celebrated author’s last remaining unpublished novel, Aniforos (Uphill).

See all the latest news from Greece and the world at Contact our newsroom to report an update or send your story, photos and videos. Follow GR on Google News and subscribe here to our daily email!

Related Posts